How important is price?
Price to partners is important because this is a competitive market and resellers need to win the business at a decent margin. If you look for providers that have invested in automation you will generally find them cheaper because their operating costs are lower. They may also be easier to do business with and delivery may be quicker and more predictable. Most SMEs still just need the basics, which most platforms do, and some of the advanced features are still a bit niche. Of course it is possible to get ‘free’ seats if you’re prepared to use self-developed, freeware platforms but most resellers have ditched this idea because of reliability, security and product roadmap issues. Now that hosted voice has moved out of the early adopter phase, the trend is towards established brands, low upfront costs and fixed monthly rentals for everything, including calls, over longer term contracts.
Has the connectivity issue disappeared?
Not entirely. FTTC has really helped but still doesn’t reach around 40% of businesses. ADSL2+ is better than its predecessors but with limited upstream speeds you have to be careful with how many simultaneous calls you are trying to support.
The availability of business grade care levels on broadband has really helped and we would advise this upgrade on all circuits running critical applications. We still recommend a dedicated circuit for hosted voice although many end users will mix voice and data on FTTC when they are only trying to run one or two simultaneous calls. EoFTTC has not been the success we anticipated, probably because FTTC is so good, core networks are not congested and EoFTTC is usually three times the price of FTTC. Smaller ISPs are still struggling with the huge demand fluctuations caused by FTTC and consequently traffic shaping, congestion and packet loss are common. The larger ISPs have invested in massive interconnects and don’t suffer from these issues. It’s definitely worth seeking these out as they are usually only a few pounds more expensive and will save you a lot in customer satisfaction and support costs. There is high demand for hosted from sub-20 seat businesses and most SMEs this size cannot justify a leased line, although prices continue to fall as more secondary carriers enter the market.
How practical is it for a reseller to partner with two or more providers?
Some resellers started off with a budget product (e.g. Asterisk) and a premium offering (e.g. Broadsoft) but these days this is rare. Prices on Broadsoft have come down and home-grown freeware platforms are just not worth the hassle. There isn’t much that Broadsoft doesn’t, or won’t soon, do (including integrating with Skype) and there is little value in running more than one platform. Most of our Partners feel the same and to keep the sales proposition simple they offer only one hosted platform. Of course there are other carrier-class hosted brands that are doing well but Broadsoft is the world-leader.
Jola sell JolaPhone hosted telephony packages which contain a Premium Broadsoft licence, a Polycom handset and unmetered UK landline and UK mobile calls. To find out more about Jola's hosted telephony solution...