- Post pandemic reality means better services for SMEs are being sought
- Plus resilient, SLA-backed services from home for hybrid working will become increasingly important
- Expect to see more competition emerge in the broadband access market
Vodafone UK has announced an Ethernet service for businesses via it’s fibre access partner, CityFibre. The mobile/fixed operator says it will offer Ethernet at 100Mbit/ and 1 Gigabit in Cambridge, Coventry and Peterborough, with nine other UK cities, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester and Portsmouth to follow.
Vodafone currently delivers a home broadband service over CityFibre’s fibre, but the adoption of an Ethernet underpinning for its business services means it can offer extra levels of business-friendly resilience and service level guarantees - an important tick in the box for broadband access services.
“Vodafone is kind of unique in Europe because 50 per cent of its revenue comes from business. And it has firmly located its strategy in the convergence game,” says Kester Mann, Director, Consumer and Connectivity at tech analyst house, CCS Insight, “so I’m not surprised that it is branching out with its CityFibre relationship to offer Ethernet over fibre.”
Kester says that the rise of the cloud is dragging in the SME market which will increasingly be looking for reliable Ethernet connectivity.
“The SME market is a real battleground at the moment, brought on because, as SMEs stagger out of the pandemic and its lockdowns, they tend to have a new appreciation of the importance of tech generally and wider concerns around security and resilience,” he says. “But certainly there is more potential for the convergence of mobile and fibre to construct new services,” he adds.
The move highlights how quickly the competitive spotlight has moved on since the dash for fibre build kicked off in the UK about two years ago. With extensive fibre already in the ground and more on the way as companies - looking to launch services across their own or their partners’ networks - see reasonable numbers of potential customers hove into view for whom they can formulate new services and and offer applications.
“It’s good to see the fixed fibre network side getting some attention now as it’s become clearer just how expensive it is to roll out 5G,” said Chris Lewis of Chris Lewis Consulting.
Kester agrees: “At long last we’re seeing lots of funding and we’re seeing some innovation and acceleration of the services across the top of the fibre. “We can also see that there’s going to be a demand for better calls and connectivity from home in the wake of the pandemic. We’ve all been on those nightmare Zoom calls so services which can ‘consistently’ deliver enough bandwidth to support multiple callers are going to be thought of as a ‘must,” he says.
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