The move into hosted PBX services by carriers of all sizes is well documented. Carriers see great opportunity for revenue growth by targeting small and medium business (SMB) customers with a cloud based business communications service that can replace legacy PBX and key systems. Cloud based systems allow carriers to easily go out of their incumbent market and target SMB customers virtually anywhere, creating a fast evolving competitive dynamic. Frontier’s Frontier Anywhere is the latest offer to enter the fray.
Frontier Anywhere is based on the Mitel MiCloud Multi-instance platform. “The Frontier AnyWare Cloud PBX is customized for Frontier and provided jointly by Frontier and Mitel,” says Keith Blackmon, Frontier Vice President-CPE Sales & Support in an emailed response. Although Frontier Anywhere is cloud based, customers who prefer a premise based system can use the same platform.
Frontier Anywhere comes in three different flavors, Extension Only, Lite, and Advanced, all of which offer a variety of hosted PBX features. The Extension Only version is a basic office phone, while the Lite and Advanced versions have more of a unified communications (UC) feel. UC features include what Frontier calls Mobile Twinning, which allows a subscriber to move seamlessly between an office phone and a mobile smartphone, which share a single number.
Frontier says Frontier Anywhere is available nationwide as of February 27th, based on “service qualification.” Frontier did not elaborate fully regarding what service qualification actually means. “Frontier can now provide a single, integrated solution for our customers who may have locations both in and out of Frontier’s Territory,” said Blackmon. Pricing starts at $20 per seat per month and increases based on features and functionality. Frontier Anywhere is offering about six different Mitel office handsets, an attendant console, and a conference room phone for equipment options. They also offer a softphone client.
Frontier Anywhere enters a growing field of hosted PBX offers from traditional carriers to new IP entrants like Ring Central and others. Companies including ANPI, Metaswitch, and GENBAND, among others, offer platforms of varying degrees to help carriers execute a hosted PBX strategy in the same way that Frontier has enlisted Mitel. When asked what will set Frontier Anywhere apart from these many competitive offers, Blackmon says they like their chances. “Frontier AnyWare is not ‘shared,’ each customer is provided with a dedicated, virtual instance of a Cloud PBX, delivered as a service by Frontier.” He also says giving customers a cloud or premise based option should add some differentiation as well.
Hosted PBX is becoming a land grab of sorts. As it should. In the aggregate, there are billions of dollars at stake.