Telstra sticks its neck out for small business

Telstra has announced a new bundle of voice and data services that start at $120 a month and allow customers to share call and data quotas between fixed and mobile devices. The company has also improved customer service to support the bundle.

For some, Telstra’s latest offer may be something they’ve waited years to do: the giant telco wants to offer “one throat to choke” through a bundle of voice and data services aimed at businesses with up to 25 employees.

Dubbed “Digital Business” the new bundles start at $120 a month for a single user.

For that money you get a voice and data connection, unlimited calls, a decent download allowance, a domain name and use of hosted email facilities powered by Microsoft Exchange and delivered as part of Telstra’s T-Suite software-as-a-service offering.

Each extra user incurs charges that start at $35 a month.

The service comes with a shiny new Cisco router, plus Cisco IP handsets.

Clever call forwarding between fixed and mobile phones comes as standard, as does unlimited voicemail.

Deena Shiff, Telstra’s Group Managing Director, Telstra Business, said the offer will stand or fall on the service the telco delivers small businesses.

“Service is our be all and end all,” she said today at a Sydney press event.

“If we get service wrong, we will struggle.”

Shiff said Digital Business has therefore been the subject of intense effort within the company, as it seeks to “taken out processes that hampered good service.”

If you feel a tad cynical about that, there’s reason for some optimism: My Business asked how long it would take for a replacement router to arrive in case of failure.

Often at launch events companies don’t have a direct answer, but on this occasion Telstra not only had an answer – expect a replacement on the next business day – but said it is also working to get caches of spare parts into technicians’ trucks and Telstra Business Centres.

The new service also has some smarts: some plans allow sharing of call and data quotas between fixed and mobile devices, all with a single bill.

That feature is something Telstra is banking on as a lure for customers, as the event was littered with references to the opportunity cost small businesses incur when managing several telecommunications providers and their bills.

Cheap calls, plus less administrivia, is said to add up to savings of up to $3000 a month.

If that sounds tempting, hold your horses: Telstra said today’s event heralded a “soft launch” for the product (It’s the first time we’ve ever seen a soft launch attended by a Federal Minister, in this case Small Business Minister Nick Sherry).

You can order the product now, but don’t expect to wield it until June.

Many businesses will have to wait even longer as the product requires an upgrade to Telstra’s exchanges.

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