What can you expect from Channel Live 2024? Comms Business talks to the organisers, exhibitors and speakers to find out more.

Channel Live will return to Birmingham’s NEC later this month for a busy exhibition and insightful conference programme. The two-day event will be held between the 20th and 21st March and will bring vendors, distributors, MSPs, and other channel stakeholders together to discuss the key trends and challenges shaping the ecosystem.

Phil Glover, exhibition manager, Channel Live discussed his plans for this year’s event. He said, “It is our duty to continue to evolve the show and ensure we’re delivering the event that the sector needs. The Channel thrives on connections, and we’re introducing new tools and features to make it easier than ever to meet the right people.”

Glover explained that the Channel Live app will serve as a meetings tool, with visitors able to make connections and organise their day on site ahead of the show. There will also be more spaces for visitors to continue conversations away from the crowds due to the addition of dedicated networking and meeting areas.

This year’s edition will also feature Tech Tours, which will take visitors directly to exhibitors that are tailored to specific interests. Tech Tour themes will include: connectivity and networks, hardware, channel management software, unified comms and managed services, and channel support services.

There will also be a party at the close of day one so visitors and exhibitors can catch up in a more informal setting. Glover added, “Channel Live After Hours is our new party for 2024 and takes place within the exhibition hall at the end of day one, sponsored by the Federation of Communications Services. Be sure to join us for informal networking, refreshments, and entertainment. We look forward to welcoming you to the show in March.”

The Channel Live team (left to right): Phil Glover, exhibition manager, Jessica Szuts-Naranjo, sales director, and Dr Jane Watson, conference producer.

Speaker’s corner

The exhibition will also be complemented by an insightful conference programme that has been designed to bring the Channel together to discuss the most pressing challenges and opportunities across 2024 and beyond.

Dr Jane Watson, conference producer, Channel Live, explained, “The Channel Live conference programme this year is packed across two days and two theatres providing an invaluable platform for MSPs, network operators, resellers, vendors, distributors and service providers to discuss the industry’s biggest challenges, debate the latest trends, and take home the best solutions from the experts.”

Watson discussed the key themes and focus at this year’s show. In Theatre 1, visitors can find out more about the strategy and outlook for the Channel as we move towards the retirement of the PSTN. There will be insight into connectivity options, with expert advice on how to transition effectively to all-IP. The agenda will also look through the Channel to the end user to bring visitors ideas around what businesses want, as well as diving into the threats and opportunities for MSPs, resellers, partners, and entrepreneurs in the channel. Theatre 1 will also look to show visitors where the channel will be in 2030.

In Theatre 2, the conference content will look at: technical and resourcing challenges for the channel, cybersecurity options, the impact of AI on the Channel, sustainability and the circular economy, 5G, IoT and cloud solutions. The packed agenda will also examine the industry issues facing women in the telecoms and IT industry, as well as broader hiring, training and retaining challenges.

Watson added, “Be ready to quiz the experts at companies including: Babble, BT, Charterhouse Group, Chorus, CityFibre, Comms Business, Comms Council UK, the FCS, Fit To Switch, Freedom Fibre, the ITP, Larato, Microsoft, the NHS, Ofcom, Openreach, Three, Venture Corporate Finance, Virgin Media O2, Wavenet, West Midlands Combined Authority, and Zen Internet.”

On the show floor

The exhibition will also offer visitors plenty of opportunity to catch up with partners, colleagues and friends. There will be representation from wholesalers, distributors, vendors, trade associations, and network operators.

Lisa Chapman Smith, head of channel management, Three Business, explained what visitors can expect to find at the company’s stand. She said, “At Channel Live, we will showcase our offering and how we can work more flexibly with partners who don’t fit the traditional mould. We would like to invite partners to visit our stand and discuss their options to partner with Three Business.

“We’re passionate about our partner channel, and fully recognise the unique role it plays in the business market. This is why we’ve not only committed to expanding our team to ensure all our partners get expert and dedicated support, but also to our systems and capabilities to deliver the best foundations for growth.”

David Yates, sales director, wholesale, Neos Networks, commented, “We’re excited to attend Channel Live this year where we’ll be showcasing our network presence and our newly revamped self-serve pricing portal, Livequote, which many of our channel partners rely on for purchasing their connectivity needs.

“Our vision is to simplify business connectivity across the UK. We supply business-to-business connectivity solutions across our high-capacity network with services in more than 600 points of presence and over 90 commercial data centres. To this end, we’re excited to walk our reseller partners through our new features aimed at simplifying the overall buying experience.”

An MS3 Networks spokesperson said, “As a wholesale-only provider, MS3 Networks enables our growing network of ISP partners to provide up to 10Gb connections to end-customers. Our infrastructure enables wholesale partners to provide futureproofed connectivity options including gigabit broadband, ethernet and dark fibre services to homes and businesses. Partners are supported by MS3 Networks’ channel support offering, which includes a web portal and comprehensive APIs, financial support, and a consumer price comparison website to support order generation.”

M247 will be spotlighting its business connectivity, cloud, and cybersecurity portfolio. Estelle Cameron, head of channel sales, M247, explained, “We’re unveiling the relaunch of our partner programme, designed to significantly enhance partner benefits and empower revenue generation and customer retention. Our My247 Partner Portal reflects our commitment to seamless automation, streamlining processes for efficient business interactions.

“In today’s digital landscape, speed and reliability are crucial, and M247 [offers] high-speed, low-latency solutions, including quick-to-deliver radio services. We prioritise face-to-face engagement, building genuine relationships that form the cornerstone of the channel community. Our approach focuses on trust and mutual growth.”

Sophos will be showcasing its MSP partner programme. Zara Barton, channel marketing specialist, Sophos, said, “Come along to our stand at Channel Live to hear all things Sophos. [We] deliver superior cybersecurity outcomes by providing cybersecurity as a service to protect companies of all sizes from the most advanced cyberthreats. Our cybersecurity products and services include managed detection and response, firewall, email, endpoint, and cloud native security protection.

“We provide fully managed security solutions so you can manage your cybersecurity directly with our security operations platform. Or, you can supplement your in-house team with [our] products and services.”

NTA will be exhibiting at Channel Live for the 14th consecutive time. Tom Rogers, the company’s marketing manager, said, “We will be unveiling the magic of unified communications with NTA. Visitors to our stand will be able to discover how our UC solution can empower their business to sell more to their own customer base and new clients.

“They can also explore our white label offering, enabling them to promote and develop their business on their terms. You don’t need to be a magician to come up with a magical service. We have already done that; you just need to put your name on it.”

Nino Bešević, partner sales executive, Wildix, said, “Visit our booth to get the lowdown on everything Wildix offers under its umbrella. We’ve got a powerful unified communications solution called Collaboration that helps you… well… collaborate with anyone. Text, voice and video — it’s all there. But it goes beyond a simple communication solution. Our products are so flexible you can integrate almost anything through open APIs.

“The beauty of our system is not just in the SIP trunk, the hardware and the licenses. Nor even the incredible vertical solutions of x-bees and x-hoppers. It’s accompanied by a true partnership model. That partnership model puts you front and centre — we invest in you, we work with you to achieve more, and we don’t compete with you.

“We may not be the biggest. We may not be the leader in unified communications. But we work hard to give our partners and end users a truly unified experience that works for them.”

iTel is a digital adoption specialist focusing on unified communications. James Buxton, managing director, iTel, explained what visitors can find at the company’s stand.

He said, “Working in partnership with solution providers and vendors, our adoption platform drives UC adoption, reduces support costs and boosts customer retention. We have two main service streams: end user adoption and reseller enablement.

“Visit us to see how [we can help] enable the scale your UC delivery process. Evergreen content can be assigned to users and their progress monitored, prompting people to complete their individual learning journeys and ensure they fully embrace the many features and benefits that a UC system delivers. We will also be showcasing our new browser extension overlay for UC platforms, providing true in-app help and guidance, delivered at the point of need.”

Elsewhere, Dicota will be showcasing its extensive range of sustainably produced carrycase solutions. The company said 95 per cent of its range is made from recycled PET plastic bottles. IT resellers can sign up for Dicota’s partner programme: The Dicota Club.

Pax8 will be showing managed services providers and IT businesses how they can start selling cloud products. The company’s stand will showcase its platform, which consolidates billing, automates provisioning and integrates with PSA tools.

At the show, Comms365 will be spotlighting two new solutions. Mike van Bunnens, CEO, Comms365, said, “We’ll be showcasing and launching two new solutions that will help partners offer an enhanced portfolio of resilient and secure mobile data and fixed line connectivity.

“Visitors to our stand will be among the first to see and discuss these new solutions. Our team will outline how partners can secure more revenue from existing clients and win new clients, whilst enabling them to have access to always-on internet.”

Ellie Allseybrook, business development director, Inform Billing, added, “We are really looking forward to attending Channel Live again this year. We thoroughly enjoy the event, and it is always a pleasure to connect with new customers and of course, our industry peers.

“Complementing our existing billing services, we are delighted to display our brand-new business intelligence platform, Inform Analytics and look forward to talking to delegates at Channel Live about this brand-new and unique offering.”

Telviva will also be in attendance, with the company’s white-labelled cloud-based unified communication as a service (UCaaS) solution on display. The product offers integration into cloud CRMs including Salesforce, Zoho and Zendesk. The company will demonstrate Telviva One’s full-featured PBX, billing engine and all-in-one multi-channel functionality.

Toby Jones, senior marketing manager, Northern Europe, WatchGuard Technologies, explained, “Our team will be discussing the benefits of adopting a unified approach to cybersecurity and the revenue opportunities from [our] managed detection and response [solution].”

Memco will be at Channel Live for the first time, with channel companies able to help their customers with a lift replacement solution ahead of the withdrawal of PSTN services.

Matthew Davies, business development manager, Memco, said, “This is Memco’s first time attending Channel Live and we’re excited to be here. We have been a supplier of communications solutions to the lift industry for over 50 years. Our devices are currently installed on over 200,000 lifts across Europe, and this is ever increasing as we transition into a digital world.

“For edge cases like lift lines, the all-IP transition introduces very real challenges around resilience and management of the line – especially during a power failure. We’re thrilled to showcase our fully managed solution designed to support lift applications.”

This article appeared in our March 2024 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.