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Reflections on Mobile World Congress and Saving Money With Your Mobile Overseas

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When I landed in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress this past week, I received an SMS message from my iPhone mobile operator that indicated the international-voice roaming rate was $1.39/minute. Thankfully I have a corporate unlimited international data plan, although even with the $50 plan that provides 125MB of roaming data, I still would have spent a significant amount on calls during the week I was traveling.

With the ShoreTel Mobility application, I was able to place VoIP over 3G calls that did not use any roaming minutes and only used my data plan. As an example, I called into one of my weekly project meeting with my colleagues in the U.S. and that 60-minute call using VoIP over 3G cost nothing while that same cellular voice roaming call would have cost the company $83.40. And that was just one of the many calls I did while overseas.

Now I can see why Barcelona is called the Mobile World Capital. The cellular data coverage was very impressive and I was able to make and receive all my calls as VoIP over 3G and save my company hundreds of dollars. The coverage for both Orange and Movistar was superb even when inside buildings and on the metro and I hope other mobile operators can learn from what they experienced during their time in Barcelona.

There was a high level of interest in enterprise mobility and being able to extend the office PBX capabilities to smartphones such as iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry. We had many excellent discussions and demos with large enterprises and analysts. Our product was being highlighted in the AT&T booth and we had a live demo with VoIP over WiFi calling since the ShoreTel Mobility solution makes up their Dual-Mode Mobile Voice (DMMV) solution. You can find more information on AT&T's website.

As expected the new smartphones were the center of attention at the Mobile World Congress event. In particular there was a high level of interest in larger displays on smartphones with the devices drawing the most attention including the 5.3" Samsung Galaxy Note, 4.7" HTC One, 4.3" Motorola Droid RAZR and 4.65" Samsung Galaxy Nexus. There was also a good level of interest in the Nokia Lumia 900, which is running Windows Phone 7.5 – a platform we haven't yet seen enterprise interest in, but we are monitoring.

The other interesting development on mobile devices is the availability of Wi-Fi only Android devices that provide a viable option for replacing dedicate Wi-Fi VoIP handsets and complement the Wi-Fi Apple iPod touch and iPad. These are interesting devices particularly for manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare environments where a Wi-Fi phone (with business applications) is needed and cellular calling is not needed.

Finally the other area where I saw changing strategies is that more operators have now started to embrace Wi-Fi networks rather than shun them as in the past. Wi-Fi networks are now seen for their benefit of offloading the mobile carrier networks rather than a threat of diminishing revenue. Our product is one of the examples of the benefits of leveraging Wi-Fi where you can extend wireless coverage in-building and provide higher call quality with the use of higher quality voice codecs on the Wi-Fi network when available. With the future growth of mobile video expected in the next two years, having a strategy to utilize Wi-Fi networks will be critical.

Mobility, smartphones, tablets and the convergence of carrier and Wi-Fi networks were key areas of interest this year at Mobile World Congress and these play well into our ShoreTel Mobility product, which enables you to mobilize the enterprise. For more information on how we can help your business improve productivity while slashing mobile costs, please check out our product page.