Sprint today announced a turnkey wired and wireless communications service for small- and medium-sized companies that will cost $200 a month per worker.
Sprint will allow companies that sign up for the new Workplace-as-a-Service to use other carriers for wired or wireless communications, while Sprint will continue to manage all the various networks involved.
However, Sprint will offer its own Workplace customers discounts on basic wireless connectivity, such as unlimited voice, texting and data plans for smartphones for $40 -- $20 less than the comparable plan for consumers.
Certain pieces of the Workplace offer include actual connectivity, such as Wide Area Network connections, enterprise-grade managed Wi-Fi, voice connections, online collaboration, audio and video conference and instant messaging. But Sprint will also provide mobile device management across all carriers and bring-your-own-device support for laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst for ZK Research, called the Workplace offer unique. "There are plenty of managed and cloud services on the market today that deploy a particular app or service, but nobody has actually taken the time to figure out how to package a complete workplace service," he said in an interview. "It's truly turnkey."
Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization at Sprint, said the service is focused on businesses with 100 to 10,000 workers at multiple locations with perhaps 20 to 200 workers at each site. Still, he said, Sprint is using the same concept for its own 35,000 employees, an indication that Workplace will scale up for much larger companies.
The largest corporations will still want multiple providers on a global basis, Kerravala said. But Workplace will be ideal for branch offices, where there often isn't an IT professional around.
Fitz said that Sprint has a variety of Service Level Agreements to back a variety of Workplace services should a communications problem arise. "If you call that single number we provide, you'll get a live person and a trouble ticket will be started," he said.
The advantage to a single point of contact is that Workplace will help resolve the problem called "vendor bingo..., where customer service becomes a nightmare," Fitz said. "If you are on a Lync conference and there's a problem, who's even at fault? Is it the carrier or Microsoft, is it the Wi-Fi or the Internet backhaul? That's where we step in."
Sprint estimated its Workplace service would be half as expensive as more conventional ways of delivering similar services. The various services also include a single monthly bill from Sprint based on $200 a month for each worker. "That makes op-ex predictable," he said.
Sprint named Knoll, an office furnishings maker with 3,000 workers, as an early Workplace customer. Using the service has allowed the company to focus on its business instead of IT problems, with one number to call if issues arise.
SATO Global Solutions, a provider of RFID technology, is also using Workplace to manage voice and data networks with customers globally, SATO said in a statement.