The new world on the horizon

Andrew Bale, president, Tango Networks, caught up with Comms Business about how the communications market is shifting, and what this means for channel partners.

The way we live and work is changing, and channel companies have a huge opportunity to guide their customers through their options. Some businesses are accelerating a move to mobile-only communications in response to new work-from-anywhere requirements.

For Andrew Bale, president, Tango Networks, these changes in how technology is being used are coinciding with changes to the very ecosystem on which communications services are provided. Bale discussed the shift he is seeing within the enterprise communications market.

He contextualised the history behind today’s movements. Bale said, “I’ve been in the industry for quite a while, and I even remember the 1984 liberalisation of the telecoms industry in both the US and Europe. That was the point when monolithic public communications providers were split apart into infrastructure providers and value-added service providers. This split created the enterprise communications market.

“That separation of companies who provide the infrastructure from companies who provide innovation continued from there, right through until now. Now is the point of which that separation of monolithic providers and innovation is beginning to split apart. And it’s particularly beginning to split apart in what has now become the dominant modality of communications infrastructure, which is mobile communications.”

Bale outlined the factors that are in play here. He said, “Through a combination of deregulation, new technologies, and the rise of cloud-based communications, we’re seeing a completely different world appearing on the horizon. In this new world, mobile communications are increasingly dominating everything and those mobile communications are now being provided by an ecosystem of players.”

Bale pointed out the stakeholders in this new ecosystem. He said, “That includes some private players, some large-scale monolithic players, some over-the-top players, some API-driven value-added players. This is a much more complex ecosystem of communications providers.

“We’re starting to see the evolution of the global enterprise communications market, primarily with Microsoft Teams and Webex Calling, where a multinational organisation can now go to one place to get their enterprise communications for all their offices around the world. But it is still difficult is to stitch together mobility and those enterprise communication services.”

Effectively linking mobility

So, why has it been difficult to bring enterprise communications together with mobility? Bale explained his view that the Microsoft Teams mobile app, which is Microsoft’s solution for stitching together mobility and enterprise communications, expects an “old model of a local regional provider of mobility to partner up for services in the UK, services in the US, or services in Germany”, for example.

He said that this approach brings innovation in “combining mobile and enterprise communications”, but doesn’t “break apart that model of regional communications”.

Bale explained that Tango has a solution that looks to do just that. He said that “Tango is bringing to the party the ability to blend mobility wherever you are”.

In June, the company unveiled Tango Extend, a new eSIM offering that allows mobile phones to be an extension of a Microsoft Teams-enabled fixed line phone number. Tango Extend uses Microsoft Teams SIP Gateway technology to mobilise fixed line phone numbers, allowing users to make and receive Teams calls through the native dialler on their mobile phone.

Adding to the IT stack

Looking forward, Tango Networks is preparing for less separation between IT and communications services. Bale said, “We see a world evolving over the next two or three years, where an enterprise will be able to gain their communications from a combination of cloud-based value-added service providers blended in with infrastructure providers.”

This shift, Bale explained, will allow organisations to bring their communications more cleanly into their IT stack.

Bale said, “That allows the enterprise to finally consider communications in the same way that they consider the rest of the IT stack. The CIO can say: I have a fungible service, a platform that I can consume and shape to my own needs, and I can consider my enterprise communications to be a global fabric that I can control to my needs.

“[The CIO can ask] Do I need a high-quality low latency communication in a manufacturing plant? Do I need to have everybody in my headquarters to be able to walk in and have secure communications? I can blend all of these services as I wish.”

The channel, Bale explained, needs to prepare for a future where they can continue to succeed with new types of partnerships and business models.

Bale said, “The market is transforming and the pace of change is just going to accelerate. A lot of the technologies around 6G are not just about faster, faster, faster – they are about moving towards much more disparate ownership of the delivery of mobility. The next cycle of communications is going to be dominated by a fragmentation of supply into completely new business models.”

This interview appeared in our September 2023 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.