Australia’s voice communications market is on the brink of two changes that mean opportunity for the channel, and could usher in an alternative to Telstra as the voice provider for Australian Office 365 users.
The first change is the NBN, which by replacing current copper-based phone connections will see plenty of businesses upgrade their voice telephony.
The other is the demise of ISDN, which has already seen carriers stop selling new connections and in the year 2022 will end entirely.
Both changes mean that businesses using old-school PABXes will need to change their ways. And according to Rohan Milne, chief executive of cloud telephony and SIP trunking company Switch Connect, that means opportunities for the IT channel.
Milne believes that some in the channel entered the voice market without much enthusiasm, and partnered with PABX vendors to do so.
But he argues those partnerships don’t have a future, because they create silos of voice at a time customers are more interested in newer communications tools.
In Milne’s take on recent IT history, end-customers bought videoconferencing services to improve the collaboration possibilities offered by voice alone, then added unified communications, and ended up with three tools to manage.
Now the likes of Microsoft Teams let buyers put voice, video and other forms of collaboration into a single client.
While there’s an upgrade path from legacy PABXes into this new collaborative world, Milne feels that NBN and the death of ISDN will give businesses impossible-to-ignore reasons to revisit their voice infrastructure.
“People are forced to make the decision,” he told CRN. “If they don’t their phone will stop ringing. They can’t sweat that PABX anymore.”
So what’s next? Milne thinks MSPs are in the box seat.
“Teams is a very expensive SIP client,” he said. “But there is a big revenue stream setting it up right”. So while cash will flow when MSPs make arrangements to route voice traffic into the public switched telephone network (PSTN), Milne said that setting businesses up to use collaboration tools has a better long-term payoff.
MSPs need to understand collaboration, he added, because telephony-centric partners know they must do so to survive the advent of NBN and passing of ISDN.
“I see three pillars to the MSP business,” Milne said. “IT, data and telco. Unless you own all three, you risk losing the customer.” And with the telco slice now requiring collaboration expertise, Switch Connect thinks that education is key.
“Where we try to educate partners is to educate partners is around how to use Teams best,” Milne added. “If an MSP just does the voice connection, they miss the job.”
Milne’s not alone in his beliefs: Ingram Micro likes Switch Connect’s offering so much the pair have partnered.
And together they’re taking on the combined might of Telstra and Microsoft. The two giants are currently the only game in town for Office 365 voice. Working with Switch Connect, which can take calls from IP networks to the PSTN, means Ingram can route Office 365 calls without Telstra touching a packet.
Milne thinks that will give many-a-partner another reason to consider Microsoft’s voice offering, because avoiding Telstra removes the fear that the giant telco will gain leverage over a client.
And if it also helps MSPs to score some telephony business, all the better!