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Cisco Webex Calling, With 4M Customers, Beats Out Zoom Phone

“We do about 8 billion calls a month … We have exceeded our own expectations,” Cisco’s Jeetu Patel tells CRN on Webex Calling’s unprecedented growth compared to the competition.

The Cisco Webex Calling portfolio has hit a record 8 billion monthly calls as the company expands the offering into more countries.

The Cisco Webex platform has become best known for its video and collaboration features, but Webex Calling, a feature that debuted in November 2019, has also risen in popularity compared to the competition in the crowded cloud-hosted voice arena. Cisco has sold 4 million seats of its cloud calling offering, hosted by Webex. The number of cloud calling customers hosted by Webex, as well as Cisco’s partner ecosystem, totals more than 39 million cloud calling users globally, according to the company.

By comparison, Zoom Communications‘ cloud-based phone service, Zoom Phone, has sold 2 million seats as of August 2021, which climbed up from 1.5 million three months earlier, Cisco’s competitor said last month.

“We do about 8 billion calls a month, so the pace of growth is very, very healthy over here. We have exceeded our own expectations,” Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager, security and collaboration, told CRN.

Cisco announced on Tuesday that Webex Calling Plans are now available to UK business customers, bringing the total number of countries supported on Cisco’s Cloud Connected PSTN, or Public Switch Telephone Network services, to more than 65.

[Related: Cisco Product Bookings Boom As Component Shortages Continue To Impact Tech Giant]

Webex Calling, part of the Webex portfolio, is a cloud-based phone system that provides standard features such as voice, messaging, voicemail, as well as integration between desk phones, PCs, and mobile devices. Users can tap the Webex platform for their calling plans or choose a plan from Cisco’s carrier partners, and switch active calls from their desktop to a mobile device. Calls can also easily be escalated to video meetings using the Webex platform.

“Calling is particularly strategic, because many organizations‘ workflows are still very centered around calling,” Patel said. “But calling is pretty much a networking problem, as much as it’s a software problem, which is why they’re so uniquely positioned to add a lot of value. It requires a lot of networking and software expertise.”

Webex Calling can support a variety of Cisco deskphones, and partners can offer a bundled cloud and hardware voice solution to their customers. Cisco has also integrated many the same features that users are asking for from their video solutions into Webex Calling, including background noise cancellation, Patel said.

ConvergeOne, a Bloomington, Minn.-based solution provider and Cisco collaboration partner, has seen a more than 300 percent uptick in user adoption for Webex Calling this year. As customers emerge from the immediate demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and consider the hybrid solutions they’ll need for the future, adoption of cloud-base voice solutions has grown significantly, said Ryan Humble, managing director of ConvergeOne’s National collaboration practice.

“Cisco just continues to add capabilities that matches exactly what the market is looking for,” Humble said. “[Webex Calling] provides a functionality that matches exactly where business are trying to go.”

Cloud Connected PSTN is now directly integrated into Cisco Control Hub for cloud-powered management. This allows customers to change or set basic preferences and provision new numbers via Cisco‘s partnership with Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) provider IntelePeer. The analytics and management that’s been extended to cloud calling customers via the integration has also been key to customer adoption, said Adam Born, collaboration practice director for ConvergeOne.

“It’s a single platform for integration which also allows customers to [have a] hybrid-type environment. Some of our customers are migrating to the cloud and are using WebEx Calling as a way to get themselves there,” Born said.

The big opportunity in cloud calling for partners, said Cisco’s Patel, is in adoption. “Adoption is a prerequisite. You cannot add value to the customer if you don’t have adoption. One of the things that we encourage our partners to do is anything you can do to make it easier for customers to adopt the technology to get in the hands of the most number of people and to make sure that they can use more and more capabilities, the better off it’s going to be [for Cisco] to make the product more intuitive.”

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco will be providing more incentives to the partners that drive adoption, Patel added.

The tech giant has more than 1,000 partners globally providing local delivery, integration and calling plans and support to meet specific customer needs, Cisco said.

Cisco counts companies such as T-Mobile, Office Depot, and Cigna Health as Webex Calling customers.

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