UK Broadband and BT’s SoGGY

Comment on Broadband in Britain and BT's SoGGY

At Power Comms, we are building some new customer sites to promote UK Broadband Broker Services, as a result of which I needed to dive back into this market place and update myself with all the changes to the Broadband services and products.

As a small business owner for the last 40 years or so, I have regarded IT Departments and Marketing Departments with deep suspicion. Whilst they may be a necessary evil in large organisations, it seems to me that the inhabitants of these departments are working to protect their jobs by producing a large amount of b***shit designed to cloak their activities and promote their indispensabiliy to their bosses. One of the ways this is done is to come up with new and impressive names for simple functions or new services. The Telecoms industry is a case in point. 

And BT (British Telecom – the UK’s largest PSTN) does not disappoint. With the advent of the heavily promoted “Switch Off”, their replacement Broadband Service for ADSL and ISDN services is called SoGEA – which apparently stands for “Single Order Generic Ethernet Access”. Who the f*** came up with that one? What idiot in BT’s Marketing Department seriously thinks that the vast majority of BT customers (home-owners and small businesses) will be impressed? Which customer will give a s**t about “Single Order“? What the f*** does “Generic” mean in this context? Why use the technical term “Ethernet“?

Moving on to IT departments, the Broadband industry has spawned a whole new Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations. Some of the new stuff is fair enough – FTTC, FTTP, FTTH, FTTDP – where the FTT stands for Fibre To The …but do we really need GPON, EoFTTC, GEA etc. etc.?

And while on the subject of ridiculous names and abbreviatons, who the hell came up with the names “Openreach” and LLU (Local Loop Unbundling) to describe the sharing of BT’s UK Network, and The Channel to describe the UK Telecom Reseller Business?

So what opportunites are there for UK telecoms resellers in the new Broadband environment, where the news is all about faster and faster fixed broadband speeds, Fibre Roll Out (another dubious name) and 5G Networks?

OFCOM’s latest initiative will be a big help.

Fixed Line Broadband.
The market of potential customers in the UK for Fixed Line Broadband is broadly divided into two sectors: the large business (for example Corporations and Government Departments with 100s of employees and a giant appetite for Broadband) and secondly the end-consumer – Homeowner and Small Business.

The first sector – big business – is pretty much wrapped up by BT or Openreach. There are signs of some major city-based competiton for the provision of ultra fast broadband – for example Community Fibre in London, who recently raised £400 million to further facilitate their own independent fibre network. However, larger companies usually have their own IT Departments who have something to prove, and will be a hard nut to crack for the average Reseller.

The second sector – Homeowners and small business – is an easier target, even though many of those potential customers have existing contracts with the Incumbent (another dreadful word, which means BT) and the main competition wil be from SoGEA. One major difficulty for resellers will be in overcoming the normal antipathy of customers to changing suppliers, even though it would be to their clear advantage to do so. Resellers will be helped by the BT Switch Off  which will provide a unique selling opportunity, and may be able to persuade some of these customers to consider changing to Wireless Broadband  but I expect fierce competition from the BT salesforce, who will be tasked with doing whatever it takes to retain customers reaching the end of their contract periods.

What About Making and Receiving Phonecalls?
In all the excitement generated by “fibre optic rollout” and the “switch off” and “5G” it is often possible to overlook the fact that the majority of customers in the UK are not that interested in superfast broadband: most of them just need to know that they can continue to make and receive phonecalls and that their internet service will be at least as good if not better. So keeping their phone number is almost always important, together will the ability to make and receive local UK calls (for free if possible). They need to understand if a new handset or router is required, and if they have to pay for it, and how the new VOIP based services will affect them. 

Fixed Wireless Broadband
Although mostly controlled by the “Big Four” (Vodafone, O2 EE and Three), fixed wireless broadband offers good opportunities for Resellers in all customer sectors – including Big Business.

For data hungry companies, a line of sight 5G service to a nearby mast will offer seriously fast Broadband, often matching Leased Line and other FTTP services. Obviously, location and mast proximity will be key factors.

For small businesses and Home Owners, most locations will have 4G coverage, and the broadband speeds available via a suitable fixed wireless 4G or 5G router will often be more than sufficient. And a final mention of  prepaid or PayAsYouGo (PAYG) options, which are available for the purchase of Data in some Mobile Networks – thus avoiding the need for a Contract.

Mobile Broadband – Retail
By UK Mobile Broadband, I mean access to the Internet via a 3G or 4G connection using a SIMcard provided by the Network Operator. Normally, the SIM provided allows both Voice and Data, so that voice calls are made and received over the Network Operator’s routing which gives them control of pricing. There is normally a 12 month (or longer) contract in place which may also include the cost of a locked smartphone – giving the Network Operators another source of income. 

The opportunity here is that many data only SIM products are available from the same Networks, which can be used to provide the 3G or 4G Broadband via an unlocked smartphone or a dongle or MiFi (Wireless Router) on many wireless devices such as a Tablet or a Laptop. The data SIM can also be used with an unlocked wireless router.

VOIP services can be used to make and receive phonecalls to those devices independently of the Mobile Networks. And these SIM packages can be PAYG – so no contract required.

Satellite Broadand
Although Satellite Broadband has been thought of as a niche product, only suitable for consumers in rural areas – i.e. outside traditional cable network coverage or the range of wireless masts – the Broadband speeds and reliability of Satellite Broadband have markedly increased in the last 10 years. 
Providing the installation of a satellite dish prevents no obstacle (planning permission and/or cost) there are good reasons for considering Satellite Broadband, which include redundancy (as a back up service) and the international coverage available. So there are opportunities here for resellers.

Final Thoughts?
A Broadband reseller, will need to be familiar with all the Broadband options available and to be prepared to fight to win new customers by offering them something special. Only one thing springs to mind: first class personal service (one on one is always the best)

All serious comments replied to the same day !