BT, Vodafone kick-start enterprise FMC in Asia

Claudio Castelli/Ovum
18 Jul 2008

For different reasons global telcos are starting to offer enterprise Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) services in Asia-Pacific. BT and Vodafone Australia are starting to address the high demand for voice over Wi-Fi in the region with launch of convergence services that will increase pressure on incumbents to consider the FMC path.

As a fixed carrier BT doesn't lose when services shift from the public mobile networks into enterprise Wi-Fi networks. As a result, it is increasing its presence in the enterprise FMC market and is now extending its Corporate Fusion product to Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Korea.

Taking advantage of its international coverage, BT is initially targeting multi-site organizations, linking MNC branch offices in these countries, and supporting their mobile users in these places. Through a client-based solution that supports both GSM and CDMA, and is agnostic with regard to PBX vendor and mobile operator, BT will potentially reduce costs as employees travel between different offices.

The solution will allow mobile devices to access the local corporate network for making international calls instead of relying on outside roaming support, addressing a major MNC cost concern. Our survey research has shown that the biggest gap between MNCs' mobility priorities and service providers' capabilities is on international roaming costs.

In contrast to BT, Vodafone doesn't have a fixed infrastructure. However, Vodafone sees the FMC path as an opportunity to differentiate against its rivals in Australia and increase its currently small presence in the national enterprise market. This is worth the risk of some cannibalization.

Vodafone joined Cisco and Research In Motion (RIM) to launch the Business One product. The package will be totally managed by Vodafone and, unlike BT's solution, will focus on SMEs. It will offer a single point of contact for telecom services including fixed and mobile, voice and data, and equipment. The fixed broadband connection will be provided through an agreement with fixed operator AAPT.

If there are great opportunities for market entrants, on the other side, the dominant mobile operators normally see FMC as contra-revenue threat and are delaying their entry into this market. However, with a broader range of enterprise premises solutions available and new services being launched by their rivals, we expect incumbents will sooner or later also release their FMC products.

At the moment, while the dominant mobile operators struggle to find compelling business cases enterprises also see opportunities. Our research shows that more than 30% of SMEs in the region have plans to use voice over Wi-Fi and 15% to adopt dual mode phones in the next two years. It also shows that 70% of MNCs expect to be using dual-mode phones within two years. This suggests that many companies are willing to extend PBX features and functionality to mobile devices and reduce their mobile costs while in the office.

The difference is now that enterprises have another option. If in the past they had to manage and deploy their FMC solutions by themselves or rely only on vendor and SIs, now there are service providers willing to support them.

Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst

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