Comms Vision 2021: Channel reaches 'critical point' as fibre gathers pace

Richard ThompsonTalkTalk Business' name change to TalkTalk Wholesale Services reflects an evolved strategy focused around the critical requirements of channel partners as the UK leaps to full fibre, says Comms Vision Platinum sponsor Richard Thompson, Managing Director, TalkTalk Wholesale Services.

Our rebrand to TalkTalk Wholesale Services is much more than a name change. It marks a new chapter for our business, an evolution of the wholesale operation that has always existed in TalkTalk. And our long-term vision to deliver a fibre future has not changed, but we have positively refreshed our approach. In more exciting news, we recently became a private company, giving us the freedom to achieve our fibre goals more quickly. We have the undivided support of long-term shareholders who know us well and value what we have achieved and will continue to achieve. We can build for the long-term. It feels like starting all over again as a fresh challenger in a fast-changing market.

The full fibre future is a clear part of our strategy and as a private business we can focus on finding the best ways and the best partners to deliver that for our customers. We're proud to be the only major network-agnostic ultimate enabler, so we work with Openreach, CityFibre and many others because what's most important is availability and price to customers. TalkTalk Wholesale Services has also been working much closer with partners to sell with, to run campaigns together, to work out how to up-sell and how we unlock geographic capability as the footprint unfolds.

We are prioritising investment in all areas that matter for our partners and customers. Areas like our network, which we make sure is resilient and able to meet the 40 per cent surge in demand since the pandemic. We continue to ensure we have the headroom to withstand any peaks, which have been record-breaking over the last year.

Where some operators are operating in a commoditised marketplace, we are differentiating. We are already set apart from the rest by our network, our value and our overall offering and commitment to our Partners. And just recently we did more of the same by expanding our portfolio to include 10GB Ethernet. Partners and customers can future proof and scale their network with our new 10Gb bandwidth options: 1Gb, 2Gb, 3Gb, 5Gb and 10Gb. All options are available on a 10Gb bearer which allows partners to seamlessly upgrade their customers' network in line with their usage requirements. At a micro level partners will move end customers up the value chain towards higher bandwidth services either across FTTP or Ethernet.

Portfolio expansion

We've been busy trying to understand how we can provide a wider spectrum of services to our partners, reviewing what additional capability and expertise we can deliver to help partners win. This is where our Platform comes in, which powers TalkTalk Wholesale Services. Our Platform will provide partners with the ability to unlock services that can optimise their business, driving growth and cost efficiencies. Many of these services are ready to consume today, while others will be developed over time based on the requirements of our partners.  

TalkTalk Wholesale Services has always looked to be a challenger and disrupt the market, and that's no different in this period of change we're entering as we move towards the 2025 switch off of legacy services. This copper cliff edge sees TalkTalk taking a more focused perspective this year: Full fibre roll out, also marking a new era as a private company. Our number one priority is reconnecting with customers in-person, coming out of lockdown and taking a much deeper look at how we support them through this transition from copper to fibre. Our strategy and all the changes we are making have a focus on delivering this fibre future and supporting our partners as they make this transition.

Reconfiguring

The team across TalkTalk Wholesale Services worked closely with DCMS, Ofcom and Openreach to ensure that we were doing the right thing for our partners and their customers during these challenging times. This, as mentioned, includes on Ethernet. We offered a High Level Escalation pathway for all Critical National Infrastructure projects and are proud to have supported our partners in delivering many important CNI projects too, including a significant number of hospitals, care homes and schools.

Demand for our services rose, just as reliability and speed of connection became even more important than it had been before. Two of our colleagues were awarded MBEs for the work they did connecting Nightingale hospitals and other critical care centres. For something that normally takes months they got done in as little as 48 hours. Other colleagues had to work flat out delivering nationally critical infrastructure, in tough circumstances, and I'm grateful to all of them.

Reconfiguring for 2025

Today, as we emerge from the pandemic, partners need to be thinking in a 2025 mindset and reconfigure their capabilities and processes to secure future success. Looking at the great transformative companies as examples, they are really quite narrow in their focus. It's all about doing what you do brilliantly. Our ambition is to continue to do just that, turbo charge our growth while navigating partners through our changing landscape in jointly going to market.

Capitalising on rising demand

TalkTalk Wholesale Services is well positioned to continue its strong growth pedigree and capitalise on the rising demand for business and consumer connectivity, and take partners to the next level. Eighty per cent of our revenue is through the indirect channel and this strategy is unchanged. But as the technology landscape is radically changing the role of the carrier is evolving. The need for fast, reliable connectivity is more important now than ever before and the pandemic has only strengthened our mission to deliver a full fibre future.

We need to provide more than just the pipe. We need to provide thought leadership, marketing capabilities and the wider ecosystem around the pipe to enable the end customer and the partner to transition with confidence. We're making significant investments in our business and in our marketing to enable us to do this.

We are at a pivot point and how we support future growth and connectivity services is more important than ever. There is going to be this fundamental change in the underlying access technology, and whenever there's a period to change, opportunities need to be identified and exploited. This requires a close working relationship. We're engineering our sales, marketing, and product functions to execute that go-to market in best possible way. Everything starts and finishes with the customer.

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