Despite woeful FTTP penetration levels the UK still has it both ways: Our channel and industry constitution is disrupting the incumbent like no other comparative nation, and UK cloud uptake is far outstripping European counterparts, emphasised Gamma CEO Andrew Taylor in his Comms Vision interview.
He also believes the short and long-term outlook for the channel is positive despite significant challenges and the surreptitious invasion of 'wolves in sheep's clothing'.
"When I look at some new entrants in the UK their general approach is to go straight to the end user," he stated. "They want to maximise the market. Like wolves in sheep's clothing they bear gifts, engage and get buy-in but ultimately their intention is to go over the top. Be wary of the wolves."
In flushing them out Taylor urges the channel to reconsider their business relationships with partners and dig deep to fully understand their motives.
It's a central problem that must be front of mind, he warned. "It should be about the channel owning the customer contract, it should be a wholesale relationship where the channel decides what competition looks like," stated Taylor. "The channel must be wary of this risk I see in the market today."
Against the backdrop of this territorial 'invasion' the channel occupies a land way beyond what you'd expect given the sorry state of the UK's underlying comms infrastructure.
We are 27th out of 28 countries - it's unbelievable. When you look at penetration and speeds we are not where we should be
Conventional wisdom holds that Digital Britain is dependent on a full fibre foundation – which is only just getting under way – yet Taylor credits the channel for great advances made in spite of the connectivity obstacles.
"The channel in the UK has been transformational in the move from legacy to cloud, and the migration opportunity has never been greater," added Taylor. "Cloud telephony in the UK sits at 20 per cent penetration, SMEs 11 per cent, the channel 37 per cent; but look across Europe and the penetration levels are between two and five per cent.
"The channel has also truly disrupted the incumbent. In comparing the UK experience to other countries we are well ahead in gaining market share from the incumbent."
These achievements are the litmus test of the channel's robustness and ability to make gains against the odds.
"A key observation of the channel is its diversity – small, medium and large businesses focused on local areas and having great knowledge of their business community, keeping them close to customers," stated Taylor.
In comparing the UK experience to other countries we are well ahead in gaining market share from the incumbent
It's an opportunity reflected in Gamma's plans to introduce new features and products that will enable partners to move into new verticals.
These include an addition to Gamma's UC portfolio – Horizon Collaborate – a conferencing and file sharing solution that has been under development for 18 months and is due to launch in Q1 2019.
Also in development is the UK's strategy to upgrade legacy technology and create a Britain fit for an all-digital future.
"From a regulatory point of view Ofcom and the Government are addressing the fibre issue," added Taylor. "The overall prognosis is positive, and it's important we catch up. The channel relies on strong foundations from an infrastructure perspective.
"Our penetration level for FTTP is three per cent. We are 27th out of 28 countries – it's unbelievable. When you look at penetration and speeds we are not where we should be.
"But the market is so disrupted now by new fibre players with deep pockets. We need that infrastructure.
"Openreach has an obligation, industry has an obligation, and I'm convinced the channel will meet the all IP switch over."