Mitel aims channel at home, small business

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IP telephony vendor Mitel wants to more than double its channel to take advantage of a projected boom in telephony sales as more small businesses and homes adopt broadband.

IP telephony vendor Mitel wants to more than double its channel to take advantage of a projected boom in telephony sales as more small businesses and homes adopt broadband.

Gwilym Funnell, managing director at Canada-based Mitel, said broadband sales to small businesses and homes were booming. Mitel wanted to add 40 resellers to its current stable of 30 to target that opportunity.

"Predominately this is about ones with voice and data skills, particularly those that have the ability to move an application or have some application skills already," Funnell said.

Small businesses -- with 50 users or fewer -- and homes were also a new market for Mitel, he said.

Resellers would get sales, marketing and support tools to help them sell "low cost" Mitel IP telephony, teleworking, collaboration and unified messaging offerings into homes and small businesses, Funnell said.

The bundles suited businesses with five users or more and organisations wanting to link staff working from home to the main site's voice system, he said.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commision (ACCC) has said there were 1.5 million active broadband internet services in Australia in December 2004, representing annual growth of 121 percent.

Mitel's own research had suggested some 61 percent of managers in companies of 20 to 49 staff had worked from home in the week before the survey. Seventy-eight percent claimed to have broadband at home.

Funnell said Mitel's new 3300CXi, starting from $3550 for eight users excluding handsets, offered advanced IP telephony smaller organisations could afford.

"You've got a complete voice and data solution. You have a layer 2 switch, an internet firewall and voice solution with over 600 features, more than your typical PBX," he said.

"From a channel perspective, you can provide a whole office from one single device, which reduces the management costs for a small business."

Funnell said application provision could be the real earner for resellers. And some VARs were creating packages that bundle in carriage with other components.

"Security is included," he said.

However, Funnell conceded that the traditional channel might not have the knowledge to effectively sell voice.

Mitel would provide training and assistance via its value-added distributors, Telstra Business Systems and Uptime Distribution, that would help address any gaps, he said.

"But it's going to be a case where some will make it and some won't," Funnell said.

Earlier this year, Mitel and HP ProCurve Networking allied to pool vendor resources, boost support and grow the number of system integrators and resellers. Results of that initiative were already showing, and should help this latest push targeting smaller customers, Funnell said.

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