The make-or-break factor in any mobility solution is the connectivity – and relative connectivity costs – associated with it. According to eNerd’s Jamie Warner, Australians have the choice of the incumbent with great coverage but high costs, or other providers with enticive pricing schemes but inadequate bandwidth.
“You put yourself in the shoes of the business owner, who is driven by cost – I have clients that moved their entire infrastructure from Telstra to another [smaller] provider but the coverage wasn’t there. We had one customer who was connected to a time-based mobile connection and left it on, and they’re now trying to negotiate a $7000 bill on one device. The cost is crazy,” he said. “So in terms of achieving mobility and delivering it, the whole connectivity piece is such a big part.”
Vodafone’s Philip Parker admitted data connectivity and the pricing structures hadn’t caught up with traditional voice services. Vodafone continued to face challenges selling its PIM [Personal Information Management] solutions to small business and corporates, he said.
“We’ve noticed that while we can get about 60 per cent of our business customers to buy data services from us, in terms of individual penetration, it’d be sub-10 per cent,” he said. “Convincing businesses that there are merits – whether it’s email or some sort of application – of bringing that down to the masses, is still incredibly challenging. Cost is the huge one.
“We have had some unbelievably bad customer experiences with over usage, and how much it costs for 1MB to go over our networks. I think it will come down to a point where you might get a large telephone bill, but you won’t get these kinds of $7000 bills now being faced on an iPhone,” he said.
This complexity and billing factor have turned many IT resellers off selling the connectivity piece of the equation to their customers.
“The fundamental reason is who wants to be the guy who issues a $7000 bill?” Nexus’ Sean Murphy claimed. But for Anittel’s Conrad Hilder, becoming a Telstra dealer was a natural extension of its role providing ICT services to regional SMBs.
“It tends to be combinations of data, landlines, mobility and so on. It’s part of a solution. We got into that not because of mobility, but because we were targeting mid-market and regional Australia,” he said. “In regional Australia, the telco and integration competitors aren’t there, so what you need to do is provide the full spectrum. Organisations in regional Australia will do nothing, as opposed to going to someone they don’t know. When they want you to do it, they want you to do it all.”
Warner claimed more resellers could jump on-board if selling and managing carriage services became easier.
“Once you bring out unlimited and capped solutions, it’s a natural extension for us to go down this road,” he said. “We are already doing it to a small degree, because as the businesses get more sophisticated, or just the philosophy of the people running the business changes – they want to have one person to deal with for that sort of thing. Convergence will eventually happen there. You need to have the infrastructure in place to do time billing, but once unlimited services are there it’s easy.”