Rogers Communications Inc. is making a continued push to sell telecom services to small and medium-sized businesses with a new promise to eliminate the dusty desk phone.
The company is launching the first phase of a set of solutions that will let business customers use wireless devices integrated with the same features as traditional enterprise telephone systems, such as sophisticated answering systems and routing calls between employees until someone answers.
Canada's incumbent telephone companies – primarily BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. – have long dominated the market for business telephone and Internet services. But as legacy land-line services steadily decline, cable and wireless operator Rogers is hoping that products like this can help it win a bigger piece of what it believes is a $2-billion market, says Nitin Kawale, president of the company's enterprise business unit.
"We don't have any legacy profit pools to protect, so we can be the disruptor," Mr. Kawale said in an interview, adding that similar "fixed mobile convergence" products have been available in European markets for several years and can lead to productivity improvements and cost savings.
Mr. Kawale joined Rogers in late 2014 and was charged with overhauling the company's approach to all of its enterprise customers.
It's difficult to get an exact sense of how that is going. Rogers breaks out the numbers for its data-centre and wire-line business services through its business solutions division, but includes wireless and cable revenues from enterprise customers in its much larger wireless and cable units.
For several quarters, Rogers has reported a decline in legacy and voice services at its business solutions division, but enjoyed some growth in what it calls "next generation" Internet-protocol-based services, leading to a 2-per-cent increase in revenue at the unit in the first quarter, when it saw sales of $95-million. The company will report its second-quarter earnings on Thursday.
Mr. Kawale declined to provide specific numbers, but he said customers have responded well to some of the other products he has launched over the past year, most of which have focused on making life easier for small or medium-sized businesses .
Rogers is not alone in fighting for enterprise business – telecom companies across Canada have made a push into selling connectivity services as well as data-centre and cloud-computing products to business customers. And it isn't necessarily an easy market to play in as competition abounds from major U.S. and international tech and cloud-computing players, such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.
Earlier this month, Cogeco Communications Inc. said it was recording a $450-million writedown in the value of its business and information and communications technology division. Management said the division was "seeing increased competition … from large cloud-based offerings competing with traditional managed hosting providers."