Adding value with broadband

Thought I’d include an article that I’ve recently written for the channel. It’s quite easy to read, but any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks

Broadband has come a long way since it’s inception. For businesses back in the day, it was seen as a key marketing and communication tool as companies paid through the roof to have a static website with 5 pages. Email was revolutionary, and was quickly seen as the main way to communicate with clients, with their permission or without.

Now with the advent of converged or unified systems, it’s not surprising to have a company use their broadband for phone calls, data, video and even an alarm system. The advance of broadband has been the key driver in so many industries, each with their own confusing terms and acronyms. FMC, UC, SIP, Telepresence, VOIP, IPCCTV. The list goes on, but the common factor is IP – Internet Protocol. All the aforementioned use the internet.

On it’s own, its a cost effective method to transfer data, and because of it’s universal acceptance, is widespread across a number of mechanisms. Packaged with an IP application, broadband becomes fundamental for the efficient use of the respective device. For the channel, it provides a number of opportunities for vendors, distributors and system integrators alike to provide a necessary value add to their portfolio, and this is further pushed by the rise of alternative networks to use. This in itself has promoted competition and innovation in product development, and the channel has inevitably benefited from the options available. Now technologies such as Annex-M can help a reseller by going to market with an ISDN alternative, whilst also aggregating two or more to attack the leased line market.

At the top end of the channel, mobile operators have got into bed with Telco’s to have a network of their own. Large system integrators are courting network operators for a primary service. And at enterprise level, the wrath of mergers and acquisitions have left some in the enviable position of being a one stop shop for your every need, budget permitting. At the lower end, traditional resellers and SI’s have forged relationships with mobile and network operators to get the best out of both worlds. This is where the value has been added, as now an integrator has a platform to showcase their primary offering.

Lets look at one industry where this is rife, voice. Hosted voice providers who have been brave in embracing SIP have realised from a very early age that the quality of broadband is key to their offering. Therefore they have been vocal in their search for network operators who have an offering that can allow for a high quality and a high volume of calls.

Enter DSL. In it’s various guises, it’s been able to offer a low cost platform to end users wanting access to the benefits of a hosted voice offering, as now the high upfront costs of an ISDN 30 can be waived for a similar DSL service. In this instance integrators have been quick to partner with network operators to offer their services as part of a package, adding to their bottom line by boosting their margins and increasing that customer ‘stickiness’ we all strive for.

The same is now happening in a number of industries. Integrators in the fast developing video sphere are reaching out to networks with a reputation for performance. Digital signage architects are holding hands with networks with good national coverage. And for the end user, this is compelling as they have one port of call for the majority of their IP requirements.

It’s an easy story to tell. To borrow a much used analogy, selling a road is pointless without drooling over the performance of the vehicle that’s on it. And to translate this to the internet, it’s hard to get excited about fibre to the home for example, without thinking about all it’s possible uses.

All these present the opportunity for more convergence, more applications, but over one central pipe, which is where the value is provided, as if you provide the central pipe, there is always the possibility to provide other services based on that. An old director of mine used to term this “The Whirlwind model”, where you provide something small, but essential, and then provide additional services required by that initial item. However you define it, the benefits of this are unparalled for all parts of the channel, as with the technological advances being made in the numerous access methods used to provide broadband, the channel now has a chance to offer a key value add to their IP applications.

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