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GENBAND Tells Its UC Story

June 10, 2014

GENBAND continues its efforts to help service providers leverage their network assets and expertise to better serve customers and grow their revenues in the process. This week at GENBAND Perspectives14, RealTimeCommunications spoke with Greg Zweig, director of solutions marketing at GENBAND, to get an update on the company’s efforts on that front in the areas of unified communications and enterprise services.

The traditional PBX market is under a lot of pressure because customers these days are less interested in investing in hardware and are more mobile, notes Zweig. Delivering new UC capabilities can help service providers respond to such changes in the market.

“The focus of our UC offer is to enable service providers to capture a marketplace that continues to be robust and from a hosted perspective is growing nicely,” says Zweig of GENBAND, which is expected to announce other initiatives shortly that will help service providers monetize their networks.

SMART OFFICE is part of GENBAND’s strategy to enable UC services. Zweig explains that SMART OFFICE is the name of a set of business services delivered as a full hosted UC solution. It’s available as a platform or a service to both service providers and via GENBAND channel partners to enterprises.

Earlier this year, GENBAND introduced SMART OFFICE 2.0, a WebRTC-enabled unified communications platform that delivers voice, videoconferencing, chat, presence, and collaboration via a browser. And in February, GENBAND announced a patent on Call Grabber, which is based on SMART OFFICE and allows people to move a live call seamlessly from one device to another.

GENBAND’s UC strategy has also been bolstered by two fairly recent acquisitions: the company’s purchase of fring last fall, and its move to buy uReach in February.

As Zweig notes, fring is an over-the-top consumer offering that GENBAND bought to outfit service providers with a turnkey capability they could implement without buying any hardware.

Bouygues in France is using fring to help world travelers avoid expensive mobile roaming charges. While the service provider does charge for fring, which involves the download of a client to the user’s mobile device, that cost is far less than what it would cost for travelers to use their cell phones without fring. And, for the service provider, fring provides a new revenue source and sticky customer experience while at the same time, being low risk for the network operator.

As for uReach, that acquisition addresses the problem of aging service provider voicemail systems and the need for telco network transformation. Zweig explains that the uReach solution, which has a long history of use in large deployments (including by Verizon), can enable even the biggest service providers to migrate to virtualized lightweight voicemail. But more importantly, he says, it allows for network transformation – by letting service providers deliver voicemail in a smaller footprint, using COTS hardware, and with location independence. This GENBAND capability, which is available via the SaaS model or as a software license, is now referred to as Converged Intelligent Messaging.

Speaking of COTS and network transformation, Zweig says the move by telcos to embrace network functions virtualization and software-defined networking is a big plus for unified communications. One of the big challenges service providers face in building UC solutions is that they need to be able to scale to support peak use, but they don’t want to have to overbuild. NFV addresses that conundrum, he says, because it enables network operators to dynamically scale as needs require.

GENBAND prefers to talk about solutions as opposed to technologies, but another technology it’s embraced to enable new solutions is WebRTC. Zweig says GENBAND is one of the market leaders in the WebRTC space, pointing to SMART OFFICE as evidence of that fact.

“WebRTC has the potential to allow service providers to re-monetize their networks,” says Zweig.

It does that by putting service providers back into the application value chain – moving the power into the network rather in the application.

Creating immersive user experiences is another big theme GENBAND has been pushing recently. Zweig says the company has invested a tremendous amount of resources in the past couple of years building a new set of user experiences across multiple device types.

One example of such an effort is GENBAND’s partnership with Samsung, through which the companies are doing KNOX certification for SMART OFFICE. Knox is a security module Samsung created for Android devices. It’s based on the concept of containers, so individuals can have separate business and personal containers on their wireless devices. That way, Zweig explains, if you download a game with a virus on it, it doesn’t touch the business applications and content on your device. That improves the user experience, notes Zweig, by enabling end users to continue to use the applications they prefer while providing businesses with a higher comfort level relative to BYOD.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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