The hybrid solution

The hybrid solution

Tom O’Hagan
Tom O’Hagan

Comms Business Magazine talks to Tom O’Hagan, Managing Director of network operator Virtual1, about his company’s unique channel offering.

Comms Business: Can you describe your company.

Tom O’Hagan: Virtual1 is a Hybrid Virtual Network Operator (HVNO) and leading provider of Wide Area Network Solutions and Internet connectivity to the channel. We run our own MPLS core network and have multiple resilient points of presence. We interconnect to all the major UK and International carriers of Next Generation Networks and also many of the UK LLU providers. We are hybrid in the sense that we do not own our own network infrastructure but do have POPs (points of presence) in Tele House North and East.

CB: So what is the benefit for resellers?

TO’H: All the major UK Operators now have their NGN proposition which means new technology is emerging i.e. Ethernet First Mile (EFM) and Annex M which is more cost-effective than traditional access and offers higher speeds with better latency performance.


We are starting to see the channel embrace this and I think the economic downturn has assisted with part of that. For example, SIP is now being taken up at a much higher rate as customers have more confidence in the access technology that is available and are looking at ways of reducing cost.

By having complete independence from carriers and by having interconnects with most we are able to offer our resellers’ customers solutions based upon satisfying what their real needs are rather than having to ‘sweat the asset’ of any particular carrier.

This tailoring of the solution also delivers a better cost structure for the client. In addition, there are some solutions or access methods that a particular carrier may not have in the locations required. For example, Ethernet availability. Virtual1 however is likely to have that form of access with an alternate operator.

CB: Tell us about the value you add.

TO’H: We don’t buy managed networks from operators – just the wires. Our infrastructure provides the class of service and management required by the client through our fully redundant MPLS core network.

Another example of our value add is how we interconnect into Gamma Telecom’s voice network. Many of our resellers are also Gamma partners and are now using our access technology to connect via a VLAN to Gamma to run multiple applications over the access connection. This service is all part of our service and attracts no cost.

As an operator and aggregator of networks we can split the Internet and Voice traffic whilst providing Class of Service which means the customer doesn’t need an ISDN line and an Internet line but can run everything down one pipe. We can also offer resilient circuits with other operators if required which offers additional peace of mind for resilience and continuity.

CB: In a nutshell why should resellers partner with Virtual1?

TO’H: Virtual1 is a channel-only organisation with no direct sales operation. As an HVNO we don’t own a UK or International Network and never will – However we are an operator and ISP. We aim to have every access mechanism available to our network and build our infrastructure solutions based on customers’ true requirements. This means, effectively, that we have a much larger footprint than any single network operator and can provide solutions across the UK and Internationally. We don’t have an asset ‘to sweat’ so we are truly independent of carriers.

One of the issues customers come up against when dealing with a traditional operator directly is they have limited footprint and will only sell what is ‘on net’ as that is the asset they have invested in – I am not saying that’s wrong but it can be inflexible, frustrating and expensive for customers. We overcome these issues as we build our networks using many different NGN suppliers using a blend of different technologies based on that specific requirement and all supplied under one Service Level Agreement.

The amount of carrier interconnects we have means that there isn’t anywhere we can’t get to including most international destinations. We are a network operator with a 24x7x365 network operations centre with real-time management portals for resellers and their customers.

The traditional lines and minutes business is declining and resellers need to transition to the converged voice and data world. Virtual1 can help those resellers make that journey.

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