Unified communications as a service continues to pick up steam. More than 45% of companies use UCaaS for their communications needs, according to Metrigy's 2022 "Workplace Collaboration MetriCast" global study of 900 organizations.
Earlier Metrigy studies found that, when IT buyers were asked to identify their primary UC service provider, carriers often ranked first. This is especially true for global, multinational providers that must meet local regulatory requirements.
Thanks to a competitive market -- as well as various go-to-market approaches by UCaaS vendors -- buyers have a lot of choices when assessing UC. These include buying "over-the-top" services directly from vendors, among them Dialpad, 8x8, GoTo, Microsoft, RingCentral, Vonage, Webex and Zoom. Or they can create their own packages. Service providers such as Comcast Business/Masergy, Lumen and Verizon, for example, offer their own UCaaS, as well as provide managed over-the-top packages from partners.
Carrier UCaaS packages provide efficiencies
For many companies, buying services from a carrier rather than directly from a vendor offers several benefits, among them the opportunity to bundle network and UCaaS services to ensure performance, integrated mobility, security and plain old telephone service (POTS) line migration.
Today, most service providers offer a bundle that combines UCaaS with network connectivity services. This approach lets customers buy UCaaS and the WAN services to support it. Because capabilities are bundled, UCaaS buyers can get service-level agreements that guarantee availability, as well as voice and video performance.
Additional bundles may include LAN provisioning and management, as well as managed Wi-Fi. Carriers, especially those that offer software-defined WAN, may also provide additional reliability and performance guarantees by optimizing network access connections for real-time applications. Moreover, many carriers offer public switched telephone network (PSTN) access for UCaaS -- known as bring your own carrier -- which provides further opportunity for cost savings, reach and reliability. Finally, by consolidating services to a single provider, customers know who to contact in the event of service disruptions.
Tying access to mobile phones
Service providers are now offering a new carrier carrot to prospective buyers: integrated mobility. Recently, UCaaS providers such as RingCentral, Microsoft and Cisco have delivered, in partnership with carriers, mobile integration between their UCaaS platforms and mobile phones. This lets users employ Android- or iOS-native dialers to make and receive calls, as well as send text messages, without being forced to switch to a mobile UCaaS app. Several carriers also offer mobile integration with their own native UCaaS platforms.
Carrier-bundled network and UCaaS security, meanwhile, protects customers from a variety of attacks, among them toll fraud and registration, DoS and spam calling.
Finally, even as POTS lines disappear in the United States and elsewhere, companies can tap carriers to provide analog PSTN access for alarms, fax machines -- yes, those still exist -- elevators and other use cases. Options range from analog-to-VoIP gateways to wireless services that rely on available LTE or 5G networks for analog connectivity.
Those considering UCaaS, or reevaluating their UCaaS strategy, should evaluate the various buying options and consider obtaining carrier UCaaS services that may offer additional value-added capabilities.