Making an actual phone call is one of the last things most of us do with our smartphones, and when we do place a call, it’s usually important. Voice calls are often reserved for the most personal, complex or time-sensitive communications – the ones we care about the most. Professionals want to be able to make and take those important calls on their smartphones, even if they come in on a work number. The market for unified communication services that marry smartphones with desk phones is projected to be worth $96 billion by 2023.
AT&T recently enhanced its unified communications solution with network-based native dialing, meaning that users don’t have to download an app to use a desk phone number on a company mobile device. The solution uses AT&T’s VoLTE network and several of the software capabilities developed as part of the company’s Domain 2.0 network function virtualization program. It offers standard desk phone features like four-digit dialing for internal numbers, and enables companies to control caller identification so that a business name is displayed when employees make outgoing calls.
“You don’t need a desk phone,” said Rick Shaw, VP of voice and collaboration at AT&T. “We really think it can help [our]customers transform themselves, especially small and medium businesses that are looking to provide an increased level of customer service.”
Shaw envisions small companies with mobile workforces operating with limited or no reliance on desk phones, but most larger businesses still need landlines. Even at large companies, employees sometimes use mobile devices as work phones, and Shaw said some customers are relying on voice-over-Wi-Fi when cellular coverage is weak.
“We have positive feedback from customers in terms of the flexibility that comes from Wi-Fi calling and Wi-Fi use,” he said. “It boils down to how customers intend to use it, and the accessibility.”
It’s clear that workers intend to use wireless devices for corporate communications, and are relying less and less on landline phones. AT&T’s most recent quarterly report showed revenue from wireline voice and data services for business down 15% from last year, while wireless revenue from business customers was essentially unchanged. Carriers know the workforce is moving to mobile, and they’re working to decouple wireline services from wired phones.