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July 07, 2006

North American Telephone System Manufacturers Go Global

By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, Access Intelligence LLC

North American telephone system manufacturers are increasingly offering telephony systems outside of North America in other world regions—Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).



 
Database publisher and analyst group TelecomTactics, part of The Telecom Intelligence Group at Access Intelligence, finds that approximately 70 percent of telephony platforms (Key, PBX and IP-PBX systems) from leading North American manufacturers are also available in the EMEA region, while more than 60 percent are currently available in the CALA and APAC regions.
 
Telephony manufacturers are making international expansion and worldwide distribution a priority for several reasons, including increased market presence and a globalization of business and the economy. Leading market research firm InfoTech projects that total global shipments of converged telephony systems (telephony systems that support both packet and circuit switching) will grow 38 percent over 2005 levels through 2010.
 
According to InfoTech’s InfoTrack for Enterprise Communications 2005 global report, EMEA will continue to represent the largest opportunity, while APAC will have the largest rate of growth, equaling that of North America.
 
In addition to the opportunity for expanded sales, there is a trend toward distributed work environments as more and more companies open offices in multiple countries. The adoption and maturity of IP Telephony is making it possible to network locations around the world simply and affordably. The “international” versions of North American telephony systems are nearly identical with the exception of language selection, trunk interfaces and some variations in applications.
 
Some telephone “reach me anytime” features considered essential for North American businesses, such as external or internal paging or Off Hook Voice Announce, may not be widely utilized (though available) in foreign businesses. Also, a caller will likely reach a live operator when calling a European business office rather than an auto attendant or voice mail system.
 
The goal to have an international market presence is evident in the growing number of partnerships forming between North American telephony manufacturers and telecom providers, partners and distributors from other world regions.
 
A large number of leading North American telephone system manufacturers announced international initiatives during the past year, including Aastra, AltiGen, Avaya, Cisco, Inter-Tel, Mitel, Nortel, ShoreTel and Vertical Communications. Below are highlights of recent international acquisitions, distribution agreements and partner programs.
 
ACQUISITIONS

Canadian-based Aastra Technologies Limited has significantly expanded its presence in the global enterprise telephony market following its acquisition of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space (EADS) Enterprise Telephony Business now known as Aastra Intecom in North America (small to medium business telephony systems and larger enterprise and call center platforms) and the telecommunication systems business (DeTeWe Business) of DeTeWe Deutsche Telephonwerke AG & Co KG, a member of the Rochling Group based in Germany that sells PBX systems and DECT (News - Alert) wireless systems.
 
As part of Aastra Technologies, Aastra Intecom and DeTeWe Business will compete globally and benefit from Aastra’s expertise in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions. Indeed, this process has already begun since Aastra Technologies announced in April 2006 that it will sell, support and distribute DeTeWe telecommunications solutions in the Swedish market.
 
Recently, Avaya (News - Alert) Inc. announced the establishment of a “Global Centre of Excellence” in Frankfurt Germany, furthering its commitment in the European market. The new center combines Avaya Labs and Tenovis for research and development of products, including DECT technology, handset design and contact center applications.
 
In 2004, Avaya acquired Tenovis GmbH & Co. KG, a German provider of enterprise communications systems and services for small and medium businesses in Europe. Tenovis (now officially known as Avaya) and Avaya have been integrating products to benefit both Tenovis and Avaya customers, including the recently announced support for Tenovis digital phones on the Avaya IP Office converged telephony system.
 
Avaya is also establishing the Avaya DevConnect Solution Interoperability and Test Lab in Germany to test and co-market third party products for Avaya IP Office and Integral 5 and Integral 55 IP PBX systems from Tenovis.
 
Inter-Tel (News - Alert), Inc. announced the acquisition of  LAKE Communications Limited by Inter-Tel Lake Limited and affiliated entities, creating a new division focused on the small business market. The Ireland-based LAKE designs communications products for the “under 40 user” market, including OfficeLink, a modular Key, and PBX or hybrid solution for businesses with four to 40 stations.
 
Inter-Tel expects the acquisition will expand its presence in the international market since Inter-Tel’s platforms will be available to LAKE’s customer base. LAKE Communications develops the OfficeLink system for Inter-Tel in the U.S. (sold as EncoreCX) and for other customers in Europe, including BT, KPN, Telecom Italia, and Commander Communications PTY in Australia.
 
In December 2005, SpectraLink Corporation announced it would acquire KIRK telecom A/S of Denmark, a privately owned and well-established Danish company that develops and markets wireless communication solutions based on license free radio standards. Products are sold worldwide under the KIRK brand as well as incorporated into OEM solutions of several U.S. vendors.
 
The acquisition expands SpectraLink’s product portfolio to include DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephony) technology in addition to SpectraLink’s WiFi and proprietary enterprise wireless systems and furthers the company’s presence overseas via the addition of KIRK distribution channels in Europe and Asia.
 
DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENTS
 
Addressing the rapidly growing international market, AltiGen Communications, Inc. expanded its partnership with iFone S.A. de C.V. to distribute AltiGen IP telephony and contact center systems throughout Latin America. Previously, iFone focused on selling AltiGen products in the Mexican market, but now opens offices in Central America and South America, as well as in Brazil and the Andean region.
 
AltiGen is also partnering with Irish distributor Commtech to distribute AltiGen platforms in Ireland with additional focus in the United Kingdom. As a “specialist distributor” of AltiGen products, Commtech will also provide advisory and installation services to the AltiGen reseller channel community.
 
ShoreTel Inc. has identified international expansion as a top priority and recently announced that Connector Systems Ltd. of New Zealand will distribute ShoreTel's IP telephony solutions in Australia and New Zealand. Connector Systems offers a range of products that are complementary to the ShoreTel IP PBX, including VoIP Gateways, Ethernet switches, cabling solutions and routers, and now adds the full range of ShoreTel solutions - ShoreTel Enterprise, ShoreTel Small Business Edition and ShoreTel Converged Conferencing.
 
In addition to New Zealand and Australia, ShoreTel also distributes its IP telephony platforms in EMEA. New software for the company’s IP PBX touts international features, including support for international trunking, dial plans and several language packs.
 
Vertical Communications opened a new European headquarters in Germany, expanding the company's international presence in the fast-growing European market where the company anticipates increased demand for its TeleVantage and InstantOffice IP-based phone solutions. Vertical provides European partners with telephone equipment, training, certification, sales materials and tools, technical support and marketing.
 
In addition, Vertical recently announced a partnership with distributor VoiceWay SAS to offer Vertical’s IP PBX systems throughout France and North and West Africa.
 
PARTNER PROGRAMS

Many telecom manufacturers are striving to improve their market share in other world regions by developing partner programs with incentives that encourage international partners to push their products.
 
Avaya’s BusinessPartner Program is designed to assist partners in growing their business in EMEA. Once certified to sell Avaya solutions, applications and services, business partners achieve a Silver, Gold or Platinum status and are entitled to financial incentives, preferred technical and sales support and marketing assistance.
 
Avaya is also developing a multi-channel vertical market strategy throughout the EMEA region that targets SMBs in the healthcare, property, car dealership, education, retail, accounting and financial industries.
 
Cisco Systems (News - Alert) offers the SMB Select growth incentive, a program for SMB Select partners that provides financial rebates and Cisco Learning Credits. Available to SMB Select Partners in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the program aims to increase margins and improve technical skills through training. Currently, over 1,000 Cisco channel partners belong to the SMB Select Partner Program in EMEA (introduced in 2004) which includes more than 20 countries – Cisco will continue to add additional countries throughout 2006 and beyond.
 
Mitel sells its flagship 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) worldwide, operating from over 40 locations around the world and selling through a distribution network of over 1,200 channel partners. With a long-established presence in North America, EMEA and CALA, Mitel recently announced a new office in Puerto Rico with a state-of-the-art demonstration center, solidifying the company’s commitment to customers in the CALA region. Among many initiatives, Mitel has established a channel network of Certified Platinum Partners across the region, recently opened training facilities in Venezuela and expanded operations in Mexico to include a Tier 1 Solutions Demonstration Center.
 
Nortel’s (News - Alert) “Accelerate” partner initiative includes a Small and Medium Business (SMB) program designed to “make Nortel a more compelling and attractive proposition for resellers and distributors” in the EMEA region. In addition to the SMB partner program, Nortel’s Accelerate program aims to recruit channel partners with commercial offers and rewards for revenue growth.
 
Nortel offers various incentives and bonus schemes to motivate distribution partners and resellers to join the Accelerate program and sell Nortel’s solution portfolio. A new Partner Relation Management System or “portal” for partners provides faster access to Nortel’s Partner Information Center.
 
Editorial note: For more information on telephony systems, visit TelecomTactics. Details about leading manufacturers’ telephony systems distributed worldwide are currently available for review and side-by-side comparison, and a new regional search capability makes it easy to determine system availability in each region of the world.
 
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Sandra M. Gusavsen is an analyst for TelecomTactics and Access Intelligence, LLC. To see more of her articles, please visit the TelecomTactics column page.
 
 
 

(source: http://news.tmcnet.com/news/2006/07/07/1708654.htm)

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