Opal Sees IP Communications Overtake Traditional Minutes

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Andy Hollingworth, Director of Wholesale at Opal says traditional minutes are declining and quickly being overtaken by IP communications.

“As a result, the traditional business model of selling voice minutes continues to come under margin pressure and switchless resellers are being forced to watch their revenues shrink.

The ongoing decline of PSTN telephony has caused analysts to predict that spend on fixed networks in the UK will continue to dwindle. The good news is that for those switchless resellers who want to replace their traditional voice connection methods there are numerous growth areas to be exploited in the form of IP networking, IPVPN, Ethernet, VoIP and internet/data services.

Next Generation services offer clear benefits to UK businesses both large and small and the same applies to resellers. For traditional voice specialists who now urgently need to diversify, there’s the opportunity to offer a managed broadband service, SIP trunks over broadband and to maximise the opportunities offered by the requirement to replace ISDN 30 with faster, more efficient Ethernet.

Once an organisation has connected to a resilient NGN, applications like VOIP and hosted applications become a reality, and at Opal we are seeing huge demand for these. Traditionally customers have used an ISDN or TDM service for voice, and broadband for their internet and email services. Opal SIP trunks, however, operate over a single converged voice and data network and this gives strong price benefits – which is a big selling point – costing end users less than running two separate networks. We are seeing strong demand from our resellers in this area, and expect this to continue to grow. There’s a whole host of end user benefits on offer from IP communications.

For example, making VoIP calls over an assured rate broadband connection gives end users a cost-effective additional line and access to advanced calling features, including voice mail, call waiting and call forwarding -offering greater flexibility and the opportunity to increase productivity by bringing voice, email, instant messaging and conferencing together in one place.

Crucially, what all Next Generation Network services offer to switchless resellers is the ability to offer scalable solutions for their end customers, increasing available bandwidth as required and adapting quickly to their customers’ changing business needs.

Understandably, many switchless resellers are nervous about making the transition to Next Generation services, but, with the right support and the right network, the partners who make the move will go from making money from minutes to creating long term sustainable revenues from connection fees, bandwidth and monthly access fees. This will also open the opportunity in consultancy and value-added services for more complex IP networking solutions The nature of Next Generation services also means that customers become ‘stickier’ with opportunities to create additional revenue further down the line as their usage requirements change and bandwidth needs inevitably continue to increase.

Switchless resellers must think beyond the traditional minutes model and look to Next Generation based technologies as the most viable source of revenue growth or risk being left behind. They should be looking at their current business models and asking whether they could be delivering more for the same price, or whether there is opportunity to increase the margin available.”