The move to full-fibre and the 2025 PSTN switch off is fast approaching. It’s going to be a huge shake-up for the industry which will fundamentally change how channel partners operate, the products they sell and what customers want.
The channel has already experienced a lot of change this year. Extended home working has halted face-to-face selling and resulted in demand for products not seen before, forcing partners to rapidly adapt their services.
Couple this with the upcoming fibre transformation, and it’s clear the communication industry is changing. That means new opportunities for channel partners, along with new challenges.
With that in mind, we hosted a roundtable in collaboration with Comms Dealer to discuss what the future holds for partners and customers.
Nine industry voices took part, discussing the lessons IT partners have learnt from the pandemic and the impact of the move to full-fibre, as well as innovation, connectivity and much more. Here are the key takeaways from the discussion:
Opportunities in remote working
While it’s too early to speak widely about the implications of the new normal, we’ve already seen a demand for enhanced connectivity to support home working. This creates a number of opportunities for channel partners to sell a variety of products and services.
But there are added security risks. Residential networks are typically less secure, so being a trusted advisor to partners is really important as we continue to adapt to a different working environment.
There was also a dramatic increase in the demand for communications services such as video conferencing. Customers are starting to align their portfolios, choosing services which complement one another, which presents an opportunity for partners to sell branded solutions in different packages.
Becoming full-fibre champions
To prepare for the PSTN 2025 switch off, partners should be thinking about how to develop a full-fibre strategy. It’s the connectivity infrastructure which will underpin and support all services, making it integral to business strategy. The importance of embracing full-fibre was a key talking point, being described as an existential issue. Without it, many will be out of the game altogether.
The move to full-fibre is not without its challenges. There are concerns around current product SLAs, and the need to keep developing full-fibre solutions. Nevertheless, the PSTN switch-off is fast approaching so preparing solutions ahead of time is really important.
It’s also key for channel partners to research the challenges customers are experiencing, their difficulties with using the current network, and what they’d like to see improved as we approach the switch-off. Analysing different areas of customer experience, and where improvements can be made, is vital to establishing a strong full-fibre strategy. Understanding what connectivity is needed to support different functions is key.
The importance of education
In order to embrace full-fibre, educating partners is the key to success. Supporting partners and end customers to adapt to the new world is crucial. It’s imperative we help them understand the changes from a technological and business perspective, in order to generate a full-fibre strategy which delivers strong ROI.
Paul Beacham, Senior Data Manager at BT Wholesale, made it clear that getting ahead of the curve and educating partners is vital, so they understand what’s to come. He told the roundtable that uncertainty is definitely out there, so it’s about using our expertise to manage these anxieties.
Ultimately without knowledge of these emerging technologies, selling solutions will be very difficult. It’s critical for the channel to think about the solutions offered alongside products. This includes education and putting considerable thought into how messages are conveyed.
Maintaining channel relationships
Despite ongoing uncertainty and digital transformation, everyone at the roundtable agreed that relationships in the channel remain a fundamental part of success. The transition to all-IP is already in motion, with the culmination being the 2025 switch-off.
As such, channel partners need to equip themselves with the necessary solutions, such as FTTP and SoGEA. Guidance from them in this area will be really important to drive success for customers who must switch to an all-IP connection before 2025. Being a constant and unwavering advisor during times of change develops trust, loyalty and, ultimately, helps providers sell more services and upgrade legacy systems.
With the changes that this year has brought, and the challenges that the future holds, the value of the relationships within the channel are more important than ever. Through developing and nurturing these relationships, we’ll be able to capitalise on the full-fibre opportunity with our partners.