Roadpost Inc. has a new program designed to make managing communications for road warriors easier, although one industry analyst says it behoves the enterprise to watch the bottom line with this sort of service.
Roadpost, a voice and data solutions provider, in September cranked up its corporate account program. It provides dialup, Wi-Fi, cell phone and satellite phone service on a subscription or rental basis for companies that need to keep in touch with employees travelling abroad.
According to Morris Shawn, Roadpost’s Mississauga, Ont.-based CEO, it’s difficult for companies to keep track of connectivity when staffers go overseas. The corporate account program is meant to mitigate headaches.
“The telecom and ISP costs associated with international roaming tend to be really hard to get your hands around. Your travellers will do different things. Some will dial direct from their hotel phone or dial back through their ISP, or use a calling card. It tends to be spread out….This offers a way to control those costs.”
Roadpost works alongside GRIC Communications Inc., a wholesale global communications aggregator. Shawn said GRIC powers the authentication and billing process, and sources connections, while Roadpost corresponds with corporations.
He said the GRIC-Roadpost combo means customers need only concern themselves with a single bill for global mobile voice and data. Roadpost provides the requisite equipment – perhaps a satellite phone from Iridium Satellite LLC, a GSM/GPRS handset for terrestrial cell service, or software for laptop computers that list dialup numbers for local ISPs wherever the user happens to be.
“That service offers over 30,000 local PoPs in over 150 countries,” Shawn said. “Those are dialup, but there are also over 2,000 Wi-Fi access points now and hotel Ethernet services as well.”
Roadpost says the charm of its corporate account program lies in the details. It provides enhanced reporting so network administrators know which employee used which service where. It offers volume discounts: order more phones for a lower price. And “we have the capability to really compartmentalize – do individual billing under a corporate-account umbrella, do individual billing but charge to one person,” Shawn said.
But companies considering Roadpost’s service should mind the costs, said Brownlee Thomas, a Montreal-based analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
“Roadpost’s hook for the enterprise is the rental for the occasional use for travellers, where it doesn’t make sense to buy the service,” she said, adding that in time Roadpost’s clients might want to deal with carriers and equipment vendors directly.
If Roadpost has a hook, it’s superior support, said Quentin Cobb, general manager, IT at Tesco Corp., a Calgary oilfield service and manufacturing firm.
Tesco buys remote Internet access from Roadpost, so roving employees can connect to the corporate network while exploring potential drill sites globally.
Cobb said Tesco used to source Internet access through iPass Inc., another global communications aggregator. But “if there was a problem, there was no single person to get a hold of to resolve it,” he said. By contrast, he explained, Roadpost takes responsibility for the fix ticket in times of trouble.
John Sidline, spokesperson for iPass, said Tesco works with a reseller, iRoam Services Inc., which has set up a meeting with the oil services firm.
“There is a temporary gap in coverage in one country with substantial regulation on how IP and telecom networks are used and resold, and it is for that one country in the Middle East that Tesco seems to be using Roadpost,” Sidline said. “But we are actively addressing this situation and believe we’ll have it resolved soon.”
Sidline said iPass operates a three-tier support system, wherein Tesco’s employees would call Tesco’s help desk first, then Tesco would call iRoam and finally iRoam would call iPass. Sidline said iRoam has never called iPass concerning Tesco, “so we have no further visibility into any difficulties they may or may not be having. But it would appear for a company of their size and for the amount of usage, they are having good connection success rates based on our data.”
Sidline also said it’s unfair to compare Roadpost to iPass, as the former is a reseller and the latter, an aggregator that has direct contracts big companies.
Thomas said iPass and GRIC, Roadpost’s wholesale partner, “will…compete very aggressively in this space as the two global aggregators.”
For more information about the corporate account program, visit Roadpost’s site at www.roadpost.com.