Have we seen the death of the ISP?

The good old days

The good old days

I must admit, the telecomms sector is a fascinating sector to be involved in. Always changing, always evolving, always innovating. The market is almost unrecognisable to 8 years ago, when BT ruled the roost, and we were all left to pick up their scraps. However, the rise of LLU networks has really provided end users with a plethora of choice in terms of obtaining a service that is more suited to their needs. Now one can choose from a range of acronym-ed services to help them support their business. And that is exactly what these services are doing. With the increased pace traditional businesses have moved to obtain a presence on the web, it has become more and more important for them to assess their WAN, starting at the provision of bandwidth. This means agreeing SLA’s with suppliers, obtaining redundant links and having dedicated support lines to access, as well as other key issues. And service providers have responded. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of traditional ISP’s not only providing connectivity, but also diversifying into providing value-add through applications such as AV software, bandwidth optimisation modules and relevant hardware. But even more importantly, we’ve seen a rise in smaller ISP’s taking multiple feeds from multiple networks to increase their offering to their client base and substantiate upon their skill set.

Within the SME market, this was always going to happen, as clients tend to be more loyal to suppliers and consultants who have intimate knowledge of their business practices. However, within the Mid Market and Enterprise sectors, there was still a lot of scepticism around ‘placing all your eggs in one basket’. This is starting to change. With the rise of converged communications, larger companies especially are realising that placing their business with one supplier has a number of benefits that may outweigh the negatives. These suppliers however do not just provide their own solutions. Through a range of partnerships and arrangements with companies who recently may have been deemed as competitors, they have been able to penetrate their market with a unified solution that has a lot more credence than any offering they may have had previously. Take our Advance solutions. One IP range. One router. Two underlying networks. Should one of the networks fail, then traffic is seamlessley routed via the redundant network. Great for business critical applications. Great for the end user.

The rise of the VNO; who has multiple feeds from multiple carriers, has a VOIP offering through an arrangement with a SIP provider, who can offer video conferencing through one it’s partners and privatise a network by offering CPE through a trusted vendor, is becoming a lot more attractive. The key to this is the consultation that happens prior to any agreement. And this is key. In a market where consultants have always had a negative reputation, it’s interesting to see the role they are playing in driving convergence. Because of their expanding product suites, consultants now have a wide range of themes to discuss with their prospects, and more importantly, a wider range of solutions to offer them.

We’ve come a long way since the start of the noughties. And with issues surrounding convergence and virtualisation still unresolved, have a long way to go. To throw my 2pence into the mix, I still think that there is a lot of mileage yet, as ISP’s start to turn into utilities companies through their offering’s and pricing structures. So much to look forward to!

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