With Martin Dunsby, vice president of sales and operations for inCodeTelecom.Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP) is a very good thing for businesses. While most people focus on price reductions, analysts point to a number of other benefits that conceivably could be as compelling.

This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on empowering a Mobile Workforce. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.

By Carl Weinschenk

Question: Enterprises can save money with WLNP. Are there other upsides?

Dunsby: I think it’s definitely a good opportunity to save money, but the bigger opportunity is on the services side, both service quality as well as features. This is all about standardizing on a single carrier. Changing phone numbers is the last big excuse most employees have to stop the procurement department from standardizing wireless spending on a single carrier. People say, “Everyone knows my number, I don’t want to change it, blah blahblah.” With WLNP, that has obviously gone away. The benefits of standardizing on a single platform with a single carrier with a small number of devices are very great and go beyond just cutting costs. It’s really about enabling the deployment of business applications.

Question: How should an enterprise approach WLNP?

Dunsby: In the framework we use, the first piece is a needs analysis. They should start that now. How many people have you got? How many devices do they have? Where do they use those devices and where do they want to use them and currently can’t? The last part is usually a pretty significant piece, which is where service quality improvement comes in. The second step is to engage with carriers to discuss an RFI or an RFP. What you are trading is standardizing on a single carrier in exchange for coverage in areas where you don’t have it. You probably want to standardize on maybe two types of devices. Where this is going is the kind of life cycle management Dell or Toshiba have on their laptops.

Question: Doesn’t standardizing on one platform preclude the redundancy that businesses want?

Dunsby: One thing to remember in negotiations with carriers is to require service levels. It’s a new concept for wireless. [Redundancy] doesn’t necessarily mean splitting the contract. In wireless, it’s relatively easy to switch between carriers. Maybe disaster recovery is 20 phones in the closet sitting somewhere [and is counted as part of] disaster recovery planning costs. The question is, how important is having an active [redundant] account as opposed to driving down to the store and picking up more phones.