Nikolai Sorokin -

Virgin Media Business Wholesale shines light on network upgrade opportunities

The shift to home working and operating online has underlined the need for customers to upgrade networking infrastructure, but the channel must overcome some resistance to unlock that business

Virgin Media Business Wholesale is urging the channel to recognise the potential it has to make a difference with improving user networks.

The comms player has released the findings of a survey that indicate legacy networks have been one of the problems faced by customers when dealing with the coronavirus, and more flexibility will be needed as they start to recover from the pandemic.

Although the opportunity is clear, the channel will have to do some work to get in front of customers and convince them that they have the answers to networking problems.

The Virgin Media Business Wholesale survey revealed that one-third of senior IT managers viewed their channel partner relationships as purely transactional.

A similar number said they felt their channel supplier lacked the knowledge and expertise to guide them through their networking challenges and 27% said their partner did not have the right technological solutions to meet their current demands.

The research found that almost half of the CIOs quizzed (48%) were finding it difficult to support remote working with their existing infrastructure, and the same volume were struggling to meet customer demand. Even though the world has changed over the last nine months, there is still plenty of reluctance to upgrade networks, with less than a quarter viewing it as a priority.

Any channel player going in to pitch network improvements needs to be aware that customers view the costs of making improvements as the most off-putting reason to upgrade.

The Virgin Media Business Wholesale study did find some areas where there was more willingness to invest, with more than half of respondents indicating that they were looking at how they could use internet of things (IoT) tech over the next couple of years to boost supply chain management and customer service.

Just under half were also keen to understand how they could integrate 5G into the business. But the accompanying warning is that those advantages will not be realised if existing equipment is not refreshed.

“These findings show that legacy networks are holding UK plc back,” said Dale Parkinson, sales director at Virgin Media Business Wholesale. “Inadequate infrastructure is preventing businesses from meeting challenges around remote working and omnichannel customer demand, and holding them back from embracing newer, more innovative technologies.

“By adding more flexible and agile connectivity solutions to their product portfolio and getting closer to their end-customers, the IT channel can play a critical role in ensuring organisations benefit from the lightning-fast speeds, flexibility and agility provided by solutions like national high-capacity services.”

Parkinson said the firm was investing significant amounts in trying to help businesses recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. “We’re investing millions in our core network capabilities and digital services so that our 10Gbps portfolio will be available in many more locations and can support even more businesses,” he said. “We’ve cut the price of our 10Gbps portfolio by up to 38% and improved our Engage portal to ensure channel partners receive a first-class experience.

“With our future-proof network, knowledge and expertise, we’re standing by to support our partners, so they can play their part in helping businesses to rebound and recover from Covid-19.”

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