Wrong Side of the Street?

Owen Rodgers copy

Comms Business Magazine talks to Owen Rodgers, Head of Channel Sales at Voipex about practical
solutions to a businesses located in poor areas for fast broadband services.

One of the criticisms that have been targeted at Openreach has been the lack of decent available bandwidth in many parts of the UK. Recent media coverage has highlighted poor broadband and access services is not however the preserve of rural areas. Often in urban locations poor access can be defined by just being located on the wrong side of the street.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): The average UK broadband speed is still a derisory 13Mbps which is next to useless for a business wanting to take advantage of modern communications technologies such as cloud based application services. So when you can’t even get close to this figure what are the options?

Owen Rogers (OR): …and this is an average! For a developed country like the UK to have such a low average speeds is both shocking and sadly understandable. It is shocking because of all the bold claims that the main culprit BT has made in the past about connecting the UK and the mandate it was given by government that it has failed miserably to deliver on. It is understandable however because BT is a PLC, answerable to shareholders so they will always follow the money and the money is in the major conurbations where fibre has been rolled out. That infrastructure is now being milked for maximum return on investment. Get outside the major conurbations and the picture is decidedly different. Should a small solicitors firm in a rural area get the same access to fast broadband as a solicitors firm in, say, Birmingham? In an ideal world yes. In the real world no. As George Bush often said ‘It’s just the way it is’.

Whatever the roll out plans of the major providers this problem will not go away anytime soon even if the government steps in. I am no fan of government intervention as this is a sure fire way of messing things up. Demand for broadband has always outstripped supply and will continue to do so as we not only increase our demand for bandwidth but we also perpetuate the inefficient ways that we go about using it. Rather than sitting, waiting and hoping organisations suffering from poor broadband delivery should look at ways of optimising what they have and seek solutions accordingly.

I am, of course biased in the technology example I will use but take our Voipex Elixir product as an example. This solution, based on the underlying UK developed technology ViBE, is one way of getting best bandwidth bang for your buck especially when looking at VoIP. Elixir does many things however I will focus on just two at this stage. First of all it uses only a fraction of the bandwidth required for VoIP underpinned by full ‘both ends’ (that’s important!) voice prioritization (QoS). Secondly with Elixir you can bond up to four connections into a set giving a fibre experience over something like ADSL. Two things are important to mention here first of all QoS only works properly when both ends of the link are managed and bonding only works properly when you can suspend any links dynamically that perform badly. If you don’t understand these subtleties ask you technical adviser. Elixir does both so the ability to run VoIP and data together at reasonable speeds and a reasonable price IS doable over a connection technology like ADSL!

Another consideration worth mentioning is for an organization to ask themselves if they really need a bandwidth intensive CODEC like G.711 or will G.729 do? The effects on bandwidth utilization are dramatic. With or without Elixir.

CBM: How simple are these applications to deploy?

OR: If we take Elixir as an example, the existing infrastructure can remain the same as we just overlay the service via the cloud. Customers can establish what they want and cherry pick the features required.

CBM: People say that these applications are at best only interim solutions to deploy before ‘Superfast’ access runs past their front door. Would you agree?

OR: The M25 will run fine with an extra lane. Yeah right! Demand will always outstrip supply as I have mentioned earlier. The Superfast of today will not be Superfast tomorrow. Customers need to deal with a problem that is not going to go away and utilise effectively the bandwidth they have available to them.

CBM: So can resellers make a good margin on these solutions and what next steps would you advise they take?

OR: There is a temptation to believe that resellers are only motivated by short-term profit. This is of course desirable but only tells part of the story. The Elixir solution presents a compelling case in terms of margin however there is a wider benefit to the solution. It allows resellers to reach customers they would otherwise have avoided, helps upsell existing customers and provides a mechanism for keeping customers longer. These things taken together make a an Elixir reseller partner a sound business decision for those resellers invested in offering value for money and good product and service delivery.