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Channel warned comms contracts not flexible enough

Comms player highlights a negative reaction from some customers to mutli-year contracts

The comms world is in a state of flux at the moment, as a consequence of changes caused by the pandemic and thoughts turning to how to deal with the forthcoming ISDN switch-off.

As a result, there are plenty of channel partners encouraging users to develop a comms strategy, but they risk alienating them if they pitch inflexible contracts.

Findings from Virgin Media O2 Business, a joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica which started life in the UK at the start of the month, focused on the contracts that were being offered by the channel.

The headline findings will make uncomfortable reading for those that try to encourage customers to sign up for multi-year deals, with 42% of those senior IT managers quizzed by the comms player reporting that they viewed multi-year contracts as “risky” in the current climate. A similar number (44%) also claimed they were paying for services they didn’t need.

If that is the bad news, then the positive is that 94% of customers accepted that investing in digital services would help their businesses recover from the pandemic.

More than half, though, felt that their business was not currently agile enough which underlined the potential opportunity for those channel players that went in with the right pitch. “Businesses are crying out for more flexibility, certainty and value to unlock the power of digital technology and bounce back stronger,” said Mike Hallam, director of fixed wholesale at Virgin Media O2 Business.

The sharing of the thoughts of the IT leaders is not random, with Virgin Media O2 Business keen to promote the launch of its UltimateFlex proposition, which is a contract that offers anytime cancellation as standard for managed ethernet, internet access and high capacity services.

Costs removed

The comms player has also removed installation charges as part of the UltimateFlex offering to remove upfront costs that might put users off.

“After a bruising year, we’re giving partners a leg up with our radical new model which abolishes upfront fees, provides lifetime price confidence and comes with anytime cancellation so they have the tools they need to thrive whatever comes next,” said Hallam.

Research from various sources over the past year has consistently shown that many customers, particularly SMEs, are still unaware of the need to rethink their comms in light of the ISN switch-off, which is coming in 2025.

Last week, Spitfire Network Services was the latest to sound the alarm with a warning that two-thirds (66%) of UK SMEs haven’t considered how the switch-off will impact remote workers.

“With the pandemic shifting the way businesses operate in terms of remote working, it’s quite concerning to see that these workers could be severely disrupted yet businesses don’t actually know how and when,” said Dominic Norton, sales director at Spitfire Network Services.

“Clearly there is a long way to go, so once again our message is to take action now and avoid disruption further down the line,” he said. “If you’re a business that will have people remote working long term, this is as important to you as it is to office-based companies.”

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