O2 Wholesale shuts down channel business

Just months after it had senior execs calm partner fears over the acquisition of its consumer business by BSKyB, Telefónica’s O2 Wholesale has ditched the channel altogether

In a sudden reversal of its previous position, business broadband provider O2 Wholesale has told channel partners it will be closing down its wholesale broadband service offering next year, claiming it no longer sees a viable strategic fit.

In a brief statement, O2 Wholesale said: “We can confirm that as of February 2014 we will no longer offer wholesale broadband services. The delivery of fibre broadband currently requires a level of scale and investment which does not fit with our strategy to focus on digital services and experiences”.

Earlier this year the future seemed bright for O2 Wholesale. Following the sale of both O2’s consumer broadband customers and the technical operation of its LLU network to BSkyB, parent Telefónica trotted out senior executives to soothe channel brows.

At the time it said it remained focused and committed to the operation, and head of customers and strategy Dan Cunliffe told MicroScope that there were no plans to alter the branding of the firm, and reassured partners that its services and were not changing in any way.

Indeed, he said, O2 Wholesale was now getting ready to move onto “the next phase” of the business’ development.

The overarching aim of this push was intended to be to get the business working more closely with its partner base to bring them more relevant services, with a particular emphasis on BYOD and cloud relevant services.

Despite this, Darren Farnden, head of marketing at O2 Wholesale partner and network provider Entanet, said O2’s departure from the channel was not altogether a surprise – given the BSkyB deal – but said it would cause concern for a lot of smaller ISPs and resellers, and revealed he had already been fielding questions from a number of them.

“We have plans in place to ensure our existing customers have suitable options that meet their requirements,” said Farnden, “so it’s not something that we are overly concerned about.”

Farnden predicted that the closure might well prompt a number of businesses to reconsider their network options, and said Entanet had already ramped up its base of BT products to offer more options.

O2 Wholesale had provided no further comment at the time of writing.

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