So far, 2021 has been a milestone year for the United Group. In February, Telemach Slovenia, one of United Group’s branches, officially became the leading provider of fixed Internet in its area, with a market share of almost 30%, and its mobile service base reached 600,000 users (in a country of only 2 million people!). Telemach also provides fixed telephony to 250,000 subscribers across Slovenia and serves one-half (!) of the country’s phone lines. United Group’s fixed telephony markets in Bosnia and Serbia also impress: it has 125,000 and 500,000 subscribers there, respectively, despite having started from scratch in those countries just nine years ago.
PortaOne has been an integral part of this impressive success. In 2010, Telemach Slovenia was the only company in United Group that provided fixed telephony (and back then, fixed telephony was only a basic phone call service, with no extra features like voicemail or even call forwarding). So, looking for new opportunities, United Group decided to migrate their fixed telephony from a legacy platform to PortaSwitch.
After all the proper groundwork, PortaOne was able to migrate all of Telemach Slovenia’s then-200,000 subscribers in just one night. From there, the company was finally in a position to sell the services it couldn’t offer with its legacy platform. “Before PortaSwitch, our customers didn’t even have caller IDs,” says Marko Miletić, head of fixed and mobile telephony with United Group. “After the migration, we enabled many things from PortaSwitch immediately: voicemail, fax to email, call forwarding, shortcode dialing. We also started selling B2B services that we couldn’t offer with the old provider: like cloud PBX service.”
That cloud PBX service became the reason many new customers switched over to Telemach Slovenia. “Before, they had problems with administrating PBX servers, with finding companies for maintenance and support of these bare-metal boxes in their offices. We offered them an IP Centrex solution with the PBX located in the cloud and gave IP phones for free, so they don’t have any costs on maintenance,” says Miletić. “And they also saved on subscriptions because we offered them lower prices – with better quality. With this kind of approach, who wouldn’t switch over?”
Choosing PortaSwitch also allowed United Group to scale their fixed telephony business with no worries. “With no per-customer license, you can grow and still keep your maintenance and support costs low”, says Miletić. “If you have the capacity in terms of hardware and bandwidth, you can make different environments, and host more than one thing on a given system. This has allowed us to avoid big initial investments when we start from scratch.”
Another PortaSwitch feature that Telemach Slovenia and the whole United Group have taken advantage of is its ability to be customized. The group’s in-house developers have written many custom modules to extend PortaSwitch, both to be able to offer more VAS options and to adapt to local regulations. “If PortaSwitch were a closed box with no access to the database or the source code, it wouldn’t be possible,” Miletić says. “Since the product is open and you know what’s under the hood, you can implement your pieces of code. This is a great flexibility that I’ve never found with another vendor.”
That same flexibility has also enabled United Group to offer one more popular – and profitable – service: integration with MS Teams. Customers of Telemach Slovenia can now make calls from their Teams application without a hard phone; they can also switch between calls, hold multiple-party conferences, integrate their communications with mobile lines, and more. It’s a big draw for new customers – and United Group also earns revenue-share from the MS Teams licenses and from leasing virtual private servers.
What does all this mean? It’s too soon to close the door on fixed telephony just yet. “For some parts of the economy, it will always be alive,” says Miletić. “And it’s so good to know that, in these times when companies, people, and markets are changing so much, we have a partner we can rely on.”