Duncan Wilkinson, Head of Channel Sales at THUS says 2006 has seen a growing interest in converged services, driven primarily by larger enterprises and the corporate sector rather than the SME or channel world. Despite the slower initial uptake of converged services in these sectors,
“THUS has witnessed an increased ‘pull’ across a range of business sectors and sizes based on our NGN, in particular winning several strong accounts this year in the VOIP arena.
VoIP services are beginning to gain a lot of traction in the large corporate world, although the SME and smaller corporate arena are still reluctant to embrace VoIP technology . It is difficult to say whether this is due to the available products or an indication of a market which is not quite ready for change. This is supported by the fact that THUS’ voice minute sales have continued to grow throughout the year, suggesting that people are not yet ready to completely switch off from traditional voice to VoIP.
Despite slower than anticipated initial take up of converged services, resellers do now need to ensure that they are able to offer IP-based services to customers if they are to maximise the opportunity such services can offer. If a reseller isn’t ready or doesn’t have an IP convergence partner they risk losing potential customers who are ready to migrate. Resellers need to offer a broadband solution and actively sell that solution into its customer base. As ever, the more services offered by a reseller, the stickier that customer becomes. For example, customers taking just one service are usually subject to a 30% (approx) churn rate whereas for those customers taking two or three services have a significantly lower churn. The channel needs to partner with carriers that are able to provide solutions for both current and future IP services as well as those able to offer wholesale broadband. If they don’t, they will be subject to price squeezes as the world continues to march towards convergence.
It seems, therefore, that although convergence is taking longer to come about, there is no real stand off between the voice and data channels. Instead, resellers have taken their own approaches to prepare for convergence and are implementing them as best they can. Time will tell which channel is best placed to deal with the converged world, but it is clear success will depend upon traditional business ties. There will be winners and losers on both sides over the next few years. Those that will benefit from convergence will be those businesses which embrace the technology and move quickly to consolidate their share of the market, regardless of whether they were originally voice or data resellers.”