Fit for Channel

Fit for Channel

Gamma Telecom

“Gamma Telecom was formed with a view to being a ‘carrier’s carrier’. We purchased the assets of failed companies such as Atlantic Telecom and others which immediately gave us a high spec but low cost national network. We then went out to the international markets where there was a need for carriers to be able to terminate traffic in the UK but did not want to deal with BT. We progressed from having an empty network to

sales of £30m a year very quickly.

“Then in 2004 Telia decided to withdraw from the UK market. Telia was a channelcentric business and we were able strike a deal with the company whereby Gamma assumed all of their channel business. It was an interesting challenge as the resellers said at the time ‘who is Gamma Telecom?’. Bob Falconer, our current CEO, then joined the company as Chief Operations Officer with a remit to make Gamma a ‘fit for channel’ business.

“Bob made sure we delivered accurate and timely billing services, a great web portal for ordering and a reliable network. All the key elements that resellers needed to successfully conduct business with their customers.

“In 2005 we embarked upon a strategy of broadening our services portfolio starting with the introduction of wholesale line rental and broadband. The following year however we really started motoring with the introduction of a range of IP-based services.

“These included Featureplus, a fully whitelabelled, hosted telephony solution designed for both the small office and home office. This enables a business to administer and control its telephony, including a whole array of calling and network features, through an on-line control panel.

“For larger customers we introduced Communicator, a hosted telephony system designed for multi-site small businesses that offers powerful features to reduce total costs and improve the productivity and image of your business.

“To these we added IP DirectConnect, Gamma’s SIP Trunking service. This is one of the first true IP transit services on the market which connect resellers customer sites directly into the Gamma network using an IP backbone enabling them to have full PSTN connectivity.

“Resellers are now realising the benefits of IP trunking such as offering their customers free calls between sites and overall a lower call cost. Both reseller and customer benefit from the scaleability of IP trunks in that we can provide on a per channel basis yet still retain features they have been used to on ISDN such as DDI ranges, CLI presentation and emergency services support.

“SIP trunks are quick and easy to order and provision plays to resellers’ CPE and integration strengths. These IP services complement a converged network with lower costs and simplified architecture and open up the whole new world of IP telephony services to cross-sell.”

 

Retention

It is a measure of Gamma Telecom’s success in being a ‘fit for channel’ business that of the 90 resellers they assumed from Telia four years ago 88 of them are still with them.

“At the time of these IP services introductions however the reseller community was still coming to terms with a world that was moving to an IP infrastructure. They were worried on several fronts not least of which was recognising the skill sets they would need to develop in order to move into these new markets.”

“We also launched these services not really knowing which segments of the channel would sell them; voice, minutes or data resellers. In fact it transpired that there was to be no real pattern. The resellers that have been selling these services for the last two years are driven by their own individual visions for the market and the aspirations they have for their business.”

One such reseller, HIGHnet of Inverness has been very successful with Comms Business Awards 2008 Salesperson of the Year Kim Moran-Hogg commenting

“My role at HIGHnet incorporates overall responsibility for revenue and margin targets, through the recruitment, training and development of third party sales channels. These channels actively market and sell the complete HIGHnet portfolio of products. Network partner selection is therefore very important and we are pleased to be working with Gamma Telecom.“

Richard Bligh, Marketing Director, Gamma Telecom
Richard Bligh, Marketing Director, Gamma Telecom

Richard Bligh says that today the Gamma Telecom portfolio has something for everyone. “We chose not to go down the ‘one platform’ route and are putting out a message that our solution is scaleable from 1 to 1000 users as in these cases there is always a trade off in terms of functionality or price.

“Instead we chose to have two hosted telephony solutions; one for the sub-10 extension market and one for 10-100 users plus a SIP trunk service offering.

“We have also never taken the view that the PBX system is dead and that hosted will takeover the world – there is always room for both.

“However, IP services at Gamma are really taking off. Why? Because the technology is now proven and reliable, access has improved considerably and resellers are far more confident and comfortable selling the solutions.

“Yes, there are still a few issues that need attention such as number porting where we have just launched a new software-based service to make easier to port numbers which is trackable by the reseller. The interest in this new service was huge with nearly 200 resellers logged on to a recent webinar where we explained the new system and its benefits.”

 

100 Million IP Minutes

“We are now carrying more than 100 million IP minutes a month and that figure is rising rapidly through a range of resellers. The public sector is a big user of hosted services and we are actively seeking out partners who sell in that space.

“With regards to SIP trunks Gamma is well ahead of sales forecast. Resellers are confident about our features such as keeping existing numbers and seeking out sales in the recognised applications of disaster recovery, business continuity and greenfield sites. In fact many of our channel partners are selling SIP trunks in conjunction with ISDN where they are complementary in terms of a mutual back up scenario.”

 

Next Steps

The next step in the evolution of Gamma’s IP services portfolio is the launch, across all four product groups, of an ‘Assured’ version which provides an end-to-end connectivity service with guarantees.

“From the on-site router back to the Gamma softswitch we will be providing a guaranteed SLA with 24X7 technical support, 20-hour fix and guaranteed channel availability in terms of when we say you will get 10 voice calls over a particular circuit at peak times then that is exactly what you will get.

Resellers will benefit from having an endto- end service with a high specification router supplied. The peace of mind this service provides them will enable partners to look at a bigger market opportunity. We believe this service will convince IP ‘waverers’ who are considering taking hosted IP telephony into their portfolio to take the plunge as it gives them the ‘one throat to choke’ supplier they want.”

Bligh says that Gamma now has in excess of 300 active resellers with around 150,000 business customers billing almost a billion minutes a month and with IP services taking off Gamma is turning over approximately £160m a year.

“Gamma sees itself more and more as a provider of services to the channel as opposed to being just a network company. Our biggest asset is our trading relationship with our 400 (including carriers) partners and not the fact that we have Ericsson switches.

“We don’t want to compete with CPW, BT and C&W on the size of our network – we want to compete on the quality, breadth and fit of our products and services portfolio.”

 

Ed Says

Today Gamma Telecom is well positioned in the channel. They have a next generation network in place which is based predominantly on Ericsson soft switches and a growing portfolio of channel-friendly products. All of this makes Gamma a compelling choice as a partner for resellers looking to develop their own IP services offering to customers.

 
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