Vodafone launches flat-rate service for business

8 Oct 2003

Vodafone Ireland is today expected to announce details of a new service that introduces unlimited national in-company calls for a fixed monthly fee.

Called Wireless Office, the system allows all the users on one ‘network’ to call each other for free, so long as the monthly tariff is paid. The customer can also nominate 10 fixed line numbers that can be phoned for free from any of the nominated mobile numbers.

The cost of the service varies by size of company but an average small and medium sized business can expect to pay €40 per user per month, according to Vodafone.

The service is expected to be of most benefit to small and medium sized companies with large field sales forces and which currently face large and variable monthly mobile bills. The system is currently being trialled by a number of businesses, including the e-tailer Buy4Now, which has 35 subscribers including 22 truck drivers, using the service. According to Katriona O’Leary, marketing manager at Buy4Now, the system has worked well and resulted in substantial cost savings. “In the two months the system has been in operation, we’ve seen significant decreases in bills. Just as importantly, it allows us to budget in advance as we have a better idea what our mobile bills are going to be.”

To set up the system, the customer just gives Vodafone a list of mobile numbers of employees that will use the service. The system works by creating a virtual private network (VPN) within Vodafone’s network for each new Wireless Office customer. VPN-based services have been offered to Vodafone’s largest customers for the last fours years but it is the first time the offering has been broadened to include smaller companies.

“SMEs want to control costs and keep overheads low. Wireless Office allows them to do this,” said Daniel Johnson, product marketing manager for corporate and business voice at Vodafone. Ireland will be only the second European country after Sweden to launch the service.

As well as flat-rate tariffs, Wireless Office also features several call management systems. Mobile Attendant is software program that is installed on the PC of a selected employee to allow them to act as a receptionist. This is seen as appealing to small organisations that want to manage incoming calls without investing in a PABX system. A second technology, Personal Agent, enables all employees to manage contacts, calls and text messages through their PC. A third software program, Bill Manager, allows a company to analyse mobile call usage within the company and identify users who have abnormally high bills.

By Brian Skelly