Telstra has announced a new unified communications and collaboration solution called Liberate, allowing customers to transition from fixed to mobile calls natively within the Telstra core network.
Executive director of Global Products for Telstra Enterprise Michelle Bendschneider said the UC solution, announced during the annual Telstra Vantage conference in Melbourne, was "intuitively named" for what it is designed to do: "Liberate" the workforce by enabling greater flexibility.
"It is an Australia-first truly converged at the network layer fixed and mobile telephony solution for collaboration. Very relevant for our large enterprises with big front-line staff at managed customer experiences, customer care contact centres, and others, and it is also relevant to the small business which wants to have the skin of a large business for customer service.
"All of the features and the robustness of a fixed telephony-based collaboration solution ... are seamlessly available through a mobile solution as well, enabling our customers and employees to work wherever they want to, however they want to, flexibly."
Bendschneider said Telstra has long delivered individual UC solutions both in Australia and internationally for all segments of the market -- small businesses, midmarket, and large enterprises -- in traditional on-premises and in newer mobile- and cloud-based models.
But with businesses no longer wanting employees to be "anchored to their desks", she said Liberate is an overarching, native solution designed to take advantage of modern ways of working.
"At a grassroots level, it absolutely taps into our strengths as a great connectivity provider of fixed and mobile networks, brings the two together; at a business level and at a technology level, it allows us to put that together and to create an opportunity for our customers to shift their workloads seamlessly, to follow the pattern and the behaviour of how employees need to work and want to work," she explained.
Telstra director of Global Applications for Global Products Gianpaolo Carraro told ZDNet that Liberate has been in development for around two years, with both the internal Telstra team and the BroadSoft team working on the solution.
"The way it works underneath is we are pushing the call from the [Telstra network] to the BroadWorks environment, so that the call is itself managed by our BroadWorks implementation, and we also used our internal development resources to fine tune some of the experience," Carraro told ZDNet.
"So it's a combination of internal Telstra both at the application level and the network level of course, as well as BroadSoft as the telephony partner."
Telstra had in April announced entering a multi-year deal with BroadSoft to provide unified communications, collaboration, and contact centre services to Australian enterprises, deploying its UC applications across Telstra's IP Telephony (TIPT), Digital Office Technology (DOT), and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Connect solutions.
Telstra Enterprise group executive Brendon Riley told ZDNet that the key differentiator of Liberate from previous UC solutions such as these is that it's not an app; rather, Liberate sits at the network layer itself.
"The key with Liberate is the solution is integrated into the core of the network," Riley told ZDNet.
"It's not an app, and that gives it a greater set of functionalities. So we've taken a core piece of tech from one of our main partners, and then we've extended the capabilities of that, integrating our fixed capabilities into that mobile world.
"Probably the primary solution when you really get into Liberate is it's really going to facilitate, I think, particularly small and medium-sized business to put some really sophisticated solutions together for when you want to communicate with them, and it also provides some pretty flexible solutions for staff."
As a result, once Liberate is acquired by a customer, Carraro said it's all done on the back end, although there is a companion app to help customers transfer calls between desk and mobile phone; transfer calls into other department; and choose whether to display a fixed or mobile number to callers.
Users need to be a customer of Telstra on both its mobile and fixed-line networks to add the Liberate clip-on, with the telco to offer bundling deals with some mobile plans that include Liberate.
To launch Liberate internationally, therefore, Telstra would have to either build a mobile network overseas -- which Carraro said is not part of the telco's plans -- or partner with local telcos to integrate Telstra's intellectual property over the top.
While Telstra Liberate is a native, back-end solution, Optus launched an app-based UC solution dubbed "Optus Loop" in May, also working with BroadSoft on development and deployment.
A cloud-based telephony system for small and medium-sized businesses that provides hybrid mobile and fixed-line services, Optus Loop runs on BroadCloud to provide voice, instant messaging and presence, voice, file sharing, and video conferencing services, with a soft client for desktops and tablets.
Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Telstra Vantage in Melbourne as a guest of Telstra