For UK businesses and consumers, knowing that they can trust the supplier of their ultrafast connectivity is be vitally important
In the end, every business relationship is about trust. This is particularly true with respect to IT and communications. Most small businesses don’t know and don’t want to know much about the technology itself – they just want it to work.
They trust their supplier to make the right choices on their behalf. This is why it is important for resellers themselves to choose the right suppliers and partners. They are effectively making the decision for the end-user customer and need to know that their supplier can be relied upon to deliver the kind of products, services and support that will meet expectations and thus perpetuate and even strengthen that relationship of trust between themselves and their customer.
Should a product or service fail to live up to its billing, it’s not only the reputation of those products and services that will be sullied – the reseller that made the recommendation and / or provided them will also be in the firing line.
The almost complete dependency of organisations on their connectivity and technology solutions today has raised the stakes even higher. If they are to build a long-lasting relationship of trust with their end-user customers, resellers need to be able to trust their own suppliers of high-speed broadband, hosted voice and cloud-based services completely.
This is why big brand names do so well in technology markets. When it comes to communications and connectivity, for example, BT (and by default Openreach) remains the most trusted name in the business. This is despite the close scrutiny that the company is subjected to every time it announces results or further investment in the expansion of its network.
The recent announcement of plans to make ultrafast, ultra-reliable and future-proof broadband available in 227 smaller towns and villages across the UK, most of them in rural areas, is a good example. While reporting on the headline news in a fairly straight-forward manner, many were also noted that the UK is behind many other developed countries when it comes to broadband coverage.
Towards full fibre
In defence of Openreach, rolling-out a full-fibre broadband network across the whole of the UK is a considerable challenge. It is bound to take time and massive investment. And while the government wants to drive the UK’s advancement towards a full-fibre infrastructure, it also wants most of the money to come from the private sector.
It is relying on competition to accelerate progress. But the very high cost of putting fibre into the ground and then distributing traffic and monitoring and managing and those networks, means there are only a handful of competitors. These businesses can only move as fast as their investors will allow them to; and those investors are only going to see a return on their investment in the longer term, so they are, understandably, being a little tentative.
Investors are perhaps, all too well-aware that things can change very quickly at a national level when it comes to critical infrastructure like broadband. The Labour Party’s policy announcement in the run-up to the December 2019 General Election, that it would give every home and business in the UK free full-fibre broadband by 2030, if it was to win, saw the share prices of all providers of ultrafast communications services fall sharply.
A safe pair of hands
While the subsequent result of the election will have allayed any investor concerns for now, the potential for change remains. This only serves to strengthen the hand of the trusted players in the market – and if customers trust a brand, resellers and solutions providers would always be wise to offer it as at least one of the options. While the media might always find ways to criticise the approach being taken by BT and Openreach, business and domestic consumers continue to trust these brands.
To date, over two million premises already have access to ultrafast services and by March 2021 that should have doubled, and will be up to 15 million by the middle of the decade. Many may see this as being too slow, but given the physical and cost demands, it is hard to see how it could be done much faster. And despite any misgivings they or the media might have, the UK’s businesses and households, are always going to prefer such critical services to be placed in what they see as a safe pair of hands. A name that they trust.