The temperature is rising for network services providers. Markets are becoming ever more competitive for connectivity and the outlook is for even hotter Times ahead with the planned shift to an all IP network on the horizon.
Comms Business has spoken to several key network services providers in recent weeks on a wide range of subjects. The current state of the market is always interesting to gauge and both TalkTalk Business and Daisy Wholesale have some interesting points to make whilst Zen is looking ahead to an all IP network.
How would you characterise the market for connectivity in the UK right now?
‘Buoyant yet highly competitive’ is how Garry Growns, Sales Director for Daisy Wholesale describes the market.
“Price still seems to be a deciding factor for far too many businesses. We are, however, seeing growth in terms of both connections and revenue but importantly the number of our resellers recognising that the lowest price and quoted maximum speeds are not the most important factors when selecting a service for the business world. With the increasing adoption of cloud services within the SMB market, factors such as mode speed (the most frequently achieved speed) and repair times (Service Levels) are much more critical.”
Alex Tempest, Director of Partners at TalkTalk Business, says that demand for connectivity is soaring and businesses in all sectors need access to high-quality, reliable services if they are to succeed in today’s economy.
“More and more businesses need to converge voice, data and video onto a unified communications network, and companies are having to evolve their strategies in order to support employees in accessing new technologies in an efficient and secure way.
Broadband is no longer just important to business it has become another utility; without it, businesses cannot survive. However, connectivity demands are evolving and the need for a fast and resilient connection is becoming ever more important. Next generation connectivity such as Ethernet and Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) will be the norm for businesses of tomorrow; delivering speed that opens up potential, drives efficiency and delivers greater stability to meet future needs and demands.”
Is it a correct assumption to say that DSL is no longer viable for business grade connectivity?
Garry Growns, “Not at all. It’s simply about choosing the right service for the particular business scenario. This would typically include elements such as the number of users and applications being supported. In particular, is voice being supported? What is the criticality of service availability? Geographical location (distance from the Exchange) is also a factor, as too far away and the resultant speeds on DSL may not be fast enough.”
Are the current SLA’s for data connectivity adequate and commensurate with needs of business today?
It’s a yes from Garry Growns at Daisy Wholesale.
“The challenge however, is getting resellers to effectively up-sell to the various enhanced options available. I’ve lost track of the number of times, as I’m sure most in the industry have, of hearing end-users talking about losing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost business because their £35.00 Broadband has been down for three or four days. As a channel we need to help educate the end-user of the options available and the significant benefits they can bring in the event of an issue.”
Where is resellers’ focus right now in terms of voice vs. data; where do you think they need to develop expertise and experience?
Garry Growns says his company is seeing some good cross selling within their reseller partners, with a significant number expanding their capabilities from voice to data and visa-versa, particularly into mobile.
“We are seeing significant interest on the whole SIP arena and this is a core area where greater expertise and experience is required across many of our resellers.
From our point of view though, focusing particularly on the SMB arena, I believe that the end-users are looking for an integrated communications platform that is simple to deploy and manage, easy (financially and operationally) to expand and contract, and which includes all aspects including mobility. The individual components are all there, it just needs the reseller channel to step up to the challenge and deliver this all-encompassing solution. The rewards are there; greater retention, less competition along with increased revenues and profit. This is where the wholesaler should really add value in helping and supporting the resellers to achieve this.”
Alex Tempest, Director of Partners at TalkTalk Business reports that the company is seeing growing demand, and businesses need support to scale quickly.
“At the same time, demand for data is growing exponentially, which means the connectivity market is becoming much more challenging.
Resellers need simplicity and dependability from suppliers, and are increasingly looking for a single provider for both voice and data, so they have one carrier responsible for the end-to-end service and one account manager for all their queries, helping reduce time wasted liaising with numerous suppliers.
This is exactly what we have looked to achieve with TalkTalk Business SIP Trunking powered by tIPicall; combining the UK’s largest next-generation network with tIPicall’s SIP expertise to deliver a unique end-to-end service for the partner community.”
Growth Areas and Trends
Staying with connectivity we ask Brian Iddon of network services company Venus Business Communications what have been their key growth areas during the past year and what are their growth expectations for the coming 12 months?
“Our key growth area this year has stemmed from the ubiquitous and immediate demand for increased bandwidth. With the launch of our 10 gigabit per second circuits we are seeing huge interest through our reseller channels and expect wide spread uptake particularly in multi-occupancy buildings where business tenants can be supplied with high speed connectivity cost effectively by the landlord.
The three main market trends this year are firstly, the take up of cloud services by smaller businesses who are ditching their inadequate IT systems. This requires reliable connectivity and they are turning to providers who can offer fibre to the premises for this recognising the benefits of an Ethernet leased line. The second trend is the growth in requirement for increased high-speed connectivity in the financial sector, particularly in the City where milliseconds matter in the trading environment. Our third trend is the media sector where there is increasing demand for data rich movement from the production of the latest television advertisement to the transfer of blockbuster movies from London editing suites to Hollywood studios.
We see channel partners moving increasingly from voice and reskilling into the new world of data connectivity. Venus is well placed to service these channel partners as they make this transition. Our reseller network continues to grow as we capitalise on the demand for superfast connectivity that only fibre can deliver. There are lots of opportunities for resellers partnering with Venus to offer a unique state of the art connectivity package.
Venus is attacking aggressively the demand for superfast connectivity as the first company to launch a 10 gigabit circuit. Our Dark Fibre network has been built with the capacity to handle even greater speeds than this and we continue to push into the superfast arena and champion the need for speed and reliability. We are also focusing on continuing to expand the Venus Dark Fibre network to offer even further comprehensive coverage expanding our market geographically.”
Iddon says that the company will continue to offer core services to their customers in addition to supporting their new services.
“Our reseller network will continue to receive first class support enabling them to offer a high quality service to their clients while adding value to our Dark Fibre Network proposition. In addition, we are beginning to see a demand for DFN backup lines for mission critical environments where high levels of resilience are required. This presents new opportunities to sell back-up fibre connections.”
Jody Kennedy, CTO at Olive Communications
The network is important but with the growing requirement from businesses for an ‘always connected’ experience, it’s what the network enables that is more important.
The smart communications providers have the ability to construct great solutions because they go beyond the technical integration piece and can demonstrate the importance of the consultative relationships they have with their customers.
Olive has chosen to set market leading SLA’s as part of our offering and drives our strategic partner networks to support and maintain these. Understanding priorities for our customers is what drives specific and bespoke SLA’s to give our customers a service that is relevant to the business operations. It is for this reason that our network partners choose to work with us and help to develop this end-to-end market leading capability.