Light Reading

Time to Get Smart About SMB Services

Ray Le Maistre
7/14/2014
50%
50%

A report published today highlights how small businesses -- in this instance, in the UK -- feel they are being short-changed in the broadband economy, either because they are not being offered decent connectivity, or they're being offered services that, when available, are often too expensive. (See Small UK Firms Left Stranded by ISPs – Report.)

The report was mostly negative about the services on offer, the pricing, the attitude of ISPs, the state of Government financial support, and so on. And that's not so surprising, given that the report was published by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB), with all its vested interests.

But the FSB, in its detailed, 52-page report does make a decent case in many respects, especially when it comes to the dire way in which the UK government has handled broadband initiatives and funding: The UK government pays a lot of lip service to the digital economy, but often (as is the case with many governments and political parties) fails to show any true understanding of how global economic operations need to be supported or what the real needs of businesses and individuals are in the modern world.

But while some things are unlikely to change -- politicians will no doubt continue to be largely clueless about anything that doesn't directly affect them -- the capabilities of communications service providers have changed. For as long as I can recall, small businesses have felt they are not catered for by fixed and mobile operators and the local communications specialists that sell them services packages. Often that was because of the technical and operational limitations of the service providers, restricted to costly fiber rollouts and/or low-bandwidth wireless delivery platforms for the delivery of uninspiring and restrictive services packages.

But times have changed, haven't they? Fixed and wireless broadband (4G LTE, WiFi and even satellite) services are now more pervasive, the ability to sweat the installed copper tails of the fixed-line networks is now greatly enhanced by VDSL2 and new emerging standards such as G.fast, and there are many business-oriented applications that can be enabled across a vanilla broadband connection, while tiered packages of unified communications and cloud services are now more easily provisioned for all types of customers, including even the smallest of businesses. Right? RIGHT?!

In the UK, the small business market has long been the preserve of national operator BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA): The arrival of 4G and the increasing availability of mobile-enabled data services provides a much greater opportunity for the mobile operators to launch a real challenge to the incumbent, and certainly EE , Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), and Vodafone UK have all been making moves targeting the SMB sector lately.

The FSB report suggests that such moves will take time to make any impact, if they move the needle at all -- this isn't the first time that service providers have boasted of new, resource-heavy assaults on the SMB market. But there is still real market potential: Delivering a decent broadband connection to a remote, rural business is undoubtedly going to be a real challenge for any service provider for a long time to come, but it seems there are plenty of small businesses in urban and semi-urban areas (according to the FSB report) that are still underserved, and that's where much of the 4G LTE rollouts are focused.

In addition, the emergence of 4G is coinciding with the interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the potential for urban authorities to enhance their business communities by launching 'smart city' initiatives, which need broadband infrastructure as the underpinning infrastructure.

In a services industry that is constantly searching for new revenue streams, one of the oldest and potentially largest markets -- delivering tiered communications services to small and medium-sized businesses -- still looks ripe for the picking. The FSB report is all about the UK market, but this just highlights the potential that exists in many developed markets, all of which show the same trends of pressurized incumbents, enhanced, mobile broadband, growing cloud service availability, and a disgruntled business customer base.

It's time for the communications service providers to get smart too and make big money from the small business market.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/28/2014 | 1:29:28 PM
Re: Time to Get Smart About SMB Services
@calbert234, interesting points.  My comment is focused on the "partnership" that can advance connectivity (wired or wireless) through public/private collaboration, making a universal access available that can assist SMB.  If you had that infrastructure in place then private preferences (i.e., fast wired connections) can be built to serve those needs, without having to separately invest in the infrastructure costs.

Obviously, you are holding out for the best for Nigeria - that is great!

 
calbert234
50%
50%
calbert234,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/28/2014 | 11:47:37 AM
Re: Time to Get Smart About SMB Services
I do not agree that mobile broadband can be a substitute for wired broadband access. The trend in both cases are very different. In the mobile world, increase in data speed, results in increase in the cost of the services while in the wired access, increase in speed often result in decrease in cost of services. In my country Nigeria, alot of people are of the opinion that mobile is a substitute for wired access and I always argue it out. Till we achieve wired broadband, I will keep up with my expensive and unreliable internet dongle. 
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/15/2014 | 3:45:05 PM
Re: Time to Get Smart About SMB Services
@FakeMitchWagner, exactly.  We need new and better models of public/private partnerships.  Local government, in particular, can play a positive role in partnering with industry, who better understands technology.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/15/2014 | 2:56:59 PM
Re: Time to Get Smart About SMB Services

Government not understanding technology is a problem on both sides of the Atlantic. One school of thought says, well, get government out of technology and business! But that's no answer at all. Because so much of the technology industry is a natural monopoly, government needs to be active. And it needs to be smart about 

DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/14/2014 | 8:21:09 PM
Re: Time to Get Smart About SMB Services
@Ray, great insight.  They are truly missing the market opportunity in developing communications connectivity through tiered communication services, as you point out.  Cities are stepping up and developing, or partnering, to provide broadband infrastructure; so it is only a matter of time where connectivity will be a utility.  Then the markets for the developing SMB market will make sense.

You are right that the FSB is a vested voice, but the issue is of greater value to regional economic development at large.
More Blogs from Shades of Ray
Thursday February 26, 2015 will stand out in the US communications calendar as an historic day following the reclassification of broadband and imposition of net neutrality rules.
JDSU channels the spirit of the Roman Empire as it announces its post-split optical and assurance units will be called Lumentum and Viavi.
It's Deutsche Telekom's Capital Markets day on February 26 & 27, and I'm expecting some big news around its SDN and NFV strategy.
Are you all strapped in? Then let's talk 5G, NFV, IoT, security and anything else that rhymes with LTE… oh, and tapas…
There are some interesting names on the attendee list at the FTTH Council Europe event in Warsaw, Poland.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.