Toshiba's plans to shut down its business phone division leave the digital market "very sparse at this point."

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

March 26, 2017

2 Min Read
Toshiba Telecom Dealers 'Blindsided' by Shutdown

Dealers across the United States, Canada and Latin America were caught off guard by Toshiba’s plans to shut down its business phone division.

In a letter this week, Brian Metherell, vice president and general manager of Toshiba America Information Systems’ (TAIS) Telecommunication Systems Division (TSD), notified dealers of the pending closure.

Toshiba has “deemed it necessary to wind down our Telecommunication Systems Division (TSD) business starting immediately,” he said. Toshiba Canada also will be announcing the wind-down of its telecommunications business, and TSD will no longer be selling in Mexico, he said.

TSD is a manufacturer of IP business telephone systems designed for small-to medium-size businesses and larger enterprises with multiple locations.

4db7a1608df249edaec66d2913d56dd4.jpgBen Stiegler, Snaptech IT’s vice president of business development for Northern California, said his company is one of about 250 authorized TSD dealers in the United States. Dealers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America were all “blindsided” by the news of the closure, he said. Snaptech IT has sold Toshiba IP and digital phone systems since 2002.

“Toshiba was one of the last manufacturers standing which built both digital and IP phone systems,” he said. “Although VoIP is the wave of the future, there are many campuses and environments where digital is still the best solution.”

Many environments, such as large education campuses and nonprofits which occupy large amounts of space with substandard network cabling, and retrofits into environments like retail where there are phones in many places that Ethernet doesn’t reach, cannot be easily rewired for VoIP for either physical or budgetary reasons, Stiegler said.{ad}

“The closure impacts all of our Toshiba customers,” he said. “Two months is a very short ramp-down time. Toshiba is going to honor extended warranties … but when you think about a customer who banks on the Toshiba name and plans … to open an office in Chicago in two years, their option to extend with the solution they have already committed to is not going to be open to them.”

Outside of Toshiba, the digital market is “very sparse at this point” with Mitel and NEC remaining as the major players who offer both digital and IP solutions, Stiegler said.

In his Talking Pointz blog, enterprise communications analyst Dave Michels said Toshiba’s decision to shutter the business is “both surprising and not at the same time.”

“Toshiba sales have been declining for some time and the company has become far less visible and innovative than many of its competitors,” he said. “It is a bit surprising they didn’t sell the company, but perhaps there were no buyers. Toshiba made an excellent PBX that competed with small business systems from the likes of Panasonic, Mitel, and NEC.”

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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