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Altnets a target for the channel

Experience of EfficientIP indicates that this is a market sector that could benefit from working with partners

There is a large community of altnets across the UK that should be a channel target because of the need those players have for local sales and delivery.

The growth in alternative network providers, outside the large two of BT and Virgin, has given people in non-urban areas access to improved web connectivity, and the players in that market have secured billions in private equity capital in recent years to make that dream a reality.

In parallel to the government’s ambition to improve fibre broadband access across the UK, the pandemic has fuelled a rise in hybrid working, meaning more people are working from home outside urban-based offices and are demanding solid connectivity to facilitate that.

John Hughes, regional director for the UK, Ireland and Nordics at EfficientIP, said it had seen more altnets reaching out to the channel and encouraged partners to take a closer look at what was happening in the market.

He said altnets were being awarded contracts and making significant investments but could benefit from the technical expertise the channel could offer and the local support capabilities partners had built up.

“They have to try to do it in an incremental fashion on a budget while still being resilient, secure and mature,” said Hughes.

“From a channel perspective, there’s a massive opportunity,” he added. “Savvy channel providers can...provide the resiliency, the maturity and the security, and they can provide that as a turnkey solution, a one-stop shop, to get the altnets up and running.”

Hughes pointed out that the channel would need to carry out some due diligence to identify the right altnets to partner with, to ensure they “not too far along that they’ve got the vast majority of that infrastructure, but not too early that they haven’t even got the funding”.

He added that EfficientIP had had tens of conversations with altnets in the past couple of months and there were somewhere in the region of 300 to 400 in the UK that might be looking for partnerships. “The channel and vendors should be focusing on the altnets because there’s so many of them and they’re not going away,” he said.

“The fact that contracts to provide gigabit access to these rural areas [are] being handed out by the government proves that altnets can be successful. However, to be successful, they’re reliant on vendors and channel partners to give them the tools to provide an infrastructure so that rural businesses, rural end users, people who work from home, have the access they need to do their job,” he added.

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