Source: Comms Business May 2012
For many reasons end user businesses have realised that they need consistently fast, symmetrical, reliable connectivity to the Internet. When connectivity fails it needs to be fixed quickly and preferably they need a back-up option that ensures continuity of service.
In the micro-SME market (below 5 users) standard broadband is still the only affordable choice but enterprises in the middle business market are upgrading in their thousands and this represents a significant opportunity for resellers looking to sign high value, long term recurring contracts.
Telcos have piled into this market to meet the demand and there are literally hundreds of products all purporting to be fastest, cheapest, all-purpose and super reliable supplier. From WBC, FTTC and FTTP to EFM, bonded SDSL and Fibre Ethernet the choice has never been better. But which one really is the cheapest and who is the most reliable? Which is best for voice or VPN traffic and who has the best record for fixing services when they break? What are the advertised lead-times for each carrier and what are they actually achieving? With 90% of the market now opting for 36 month contracts how are resellers protected if their customer goes bust within term?
From the moment a company asks a reseller for a quote for a leased line, the chance of the reseller winning that business starts to diminish. Resellers that cannot generate an informed quote with a choice of prices and options within one working day are probably wasting their time entering the market.
Once the service is installed how does the reseller know it is working optimally? Does it need QoS? When will the end customer be likely to need to upgrade?
It is pointless talking about who has the best, cheapest or most reliable products because by the time it goes to print all of these are likely to have changed. New products are being introduced every month and price leaders change weekly as networks are expanded and promotions are introduced.
For example in the next few weeks BTW will announce new ways of providing local access for Fibre Ethernet that will reduce the cost of that element of the service by 80%. Talk Talk Business and C&W are likely to adopt the same technology for their Ethernet products and average prices will tumble as the footprint grows.
In such a rapidly changing and volatile market most resellers are turning to specialist network integrators like Griffin where they can get a choice of every product in the market usually cheaper than they could buy from the Telco direct. The better integrators have automated quoting tools that generate not only a quote from every carrier for every circuit type in seconds but will also tell the reseller how each carrier is performing against their quoted lead times. The best integrators will be expert in navigating the leased line minefield and will be able to warn resellers of likely obstacles and suggest ways around them.
Integrators that run their own networks will also be able to offer the reseller a range of brand-able cloud products including MPLS, QoS, data backup, cloud security and network monitoring. These are not only useful ways to improve margins in a rapidly commoditising market. They are also vital for the reseller to keep control of their customers’ experience, be able to diagnose issues quickly and recommend upgrades and changes to accommodate specific applications and bandwidth needs.
Specialist sales and pre-sales teams are a costly investment particularly when a reseller is just experimenting with a potential product line. Choosing a channel-only integrator with an experienced and dedicated team removes this expense and gives the reseller their best chance of success.