TalkTalk Business Reveals Fibre, 4G And Converged Ambitions for 2015

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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TalkTalk Business MD Charles Bligh reveals how half-price broadband, business 4G and VoIP will allow it to better serve the enterprise market

TalkTalk Business plans to offer 4G and converged telecoms products to customers in 2015 as it steps up its battle to secure more of the B2B market.

The company re-launched its enterprise broadband offerings late last year, claiming that BT was using its dominant position in the market to overcharge businesses who could save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to TalkTalk.

‘Uncompetitive’ business market

Charles Bligh TalkTalk Business me / Company / Years in IT / Areas of expertise? I have been the Managing Director at TalkTalk Business since 2011 and have been in the IT industry for 22 years, starting at IBM as an Engineer. From there I held a number of senior project management, sales and senior leadership roles in professional services and product related businesses. I have worked across Asia for 4 years (based in Tokyo) and have spent the last 5 years in the UK. What has been your favourite project so far? This one! Joining TalkTalk Business and working over the past two years to further improve the customer experience has been both fulfilling and rewarding, but the best is yet to come. I like to say TalkTalk Business is the best kept secret in the industry. We are just at the beginning. What tech were you involved with ten years ago? Ten years ago, back in early 2000, I was working with companies to help them view the web as a revenue generating opportunity, not just to reduce costs. It all sounds incredibly naive now when you think about how far we’ve come. What tech do you expect to be using in ten years' time? In ten years’ time I would expect to be using, flexible (bendable) touch screen devices integrated into all aspects of my life, at home, on the move and at work. Who's your tech hero? My tech hero is Gordon Moore, the man who came up with Moore Law, which says that everything doubles in performance every two years. The law challenges us to drive innovation while relying on the idea that everything will be smaller, faster and more connected. Who's your tech villain? This is a tough one, I am not sure I would single out one person. I’ve always been a very ambitious person, so when it comes to technology, I think it would have to be any kind of person who says it can’t be done. What's your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most? The web is my favourite technology and my favourite gadget is my tablet (iPad!), which I use for all kinds of things, to stream movies, surf the web and listen to music. What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing? Substantial growth! We’ve had a strong first quarter of our financial year and we’re seeing increased demand for our data and carrier services. Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why? Companies that provide excellent customer service on a sustained basis. At TalkTalk Business we put good customer service at the heart of everything we do, so I value that trait when I see it in other organisations. Barclays, who won an award for Best Customer Experience Centre of the Year last year, is a great example. What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today? One of the greatest challenges the technology industry is facing today is managing the fast growth of mobility and how to harness it in the workplace. The need for mobility to drive business objectives, now combined with the added device-driven dimension of BYOD, presents quite a network and security challenge for businesses of all sizes. To Cloud or not to Cloud? For me, the answer is undoubtedly to Cloud. But which cloud? Your own private or public or hybrid? Businesses are moving into a world where the cloud is used for almost all enterprise applications. The cloud allows companies to use a shared environment, makes it easier to tap into common interest data and provides access to the computing power of hundreds of servers, without the expense. That isn’t to say working in the cloud doesn’t present its own challenges, but with the right technology choices, secure flexible network and ICT partners, they’re not insurmountable. What did you want to be when you were a child? It wasn’t what I wanted to be, but more of where I wanted to be. I wanted to live and work around the world.Name / Company / Years in IT / Areas of expertise? I have been the Managing Director at TalkTalk Business since 2011 and have been in the IT industry for 22 years, starting at IBM as an Engineer. From there I held a number of senior project management, sales and senior leadership roles in professional services and product related businesses. I have worked across Asia for 4 years (based in Tokyo) and have spent the last 5 years in the UK. What has been your favourite project so far? This one! Joining TalkTalk Business and working over the past two years to further improve the customer experience has been both fulfilling and rewarding, but the best is yet to come. I like to say TalkTalk Business is the best kept secret in the industry. We are just at the beginning. What tech were you involved with ten years ago? Ten years ago, back in early 2000, I was working with companies to help them view the web as a revenue generating opportunity, not just to reduce costs. It all sounds incredibly naive now when you think about how far we’ve come. What tech do you expect to be using in ten years' time? In ten years’ time I would expect to be using, flexible (bendable) touch screen devices integrated into all aspects of my life, at home, on the move and at work. Who's your tech hero? My tech hero is Gordon Moore, the man who came up with Moore Law, which says that everything doubles in performance every two years. The law challenges us to drive innovation while relying on the idea that everything will be smaller, faster and more connected. Who's your tech villain? This is a tough one, I am not sure I would single out one person. I’ve always been a very ambitious person, so when it comes to technology, I think it would have to be any kind of person who says it can’t be done. What's your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most? The web is my favourite technology and my favourite gadget is my tablet (iPad!), which I use for all kinds of things, to stream movies, surf the web and listen to music. What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing? Substantial growth! We’ve had a strong first quarter of our financial year and we’re seeing increased demand for our data and carrier services. Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why? Companies that provide excellent customer service on a sustained basis. At TalkTalk Business we put good customer service at the heart of everything we do, so I value that trait when I see it in other organisations. Barclays, who won an award for Best Customer Experience Centre of the Year last year, is a great example. What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today? One of the greatest challenges the technology industry is facing today is managing the fast growth of mobility and how to harness it in the workplace. The need for mobility to drive business objectives, now combined with the added device-driven dimension of BYOD, presents quite a network and security challenge for businesses of all sizes. To Cloud or not to Cloud? For me, the answer is undoubtedly to Cloud. But which cloud? Your own private or public or hybrid? Businesses are moving into a world where the cloud is used for almost all enterprise applications. The cloud allows companies to use a shared environment, makes it easier to tap into common interest data and provides access to the computing power of hundreds of servers, without the expense. That isn’t to say working in the cloud doesn’t present its own challenges, but with the right technology choices, secure flexible network and ICT partners, they’re not insurmountable. What did you want to be when you were a child? It wasn’t what I wanted to be, but more of where I wanted to be. I wanted to live and work around the world.“At the moment it’s a dysfunctional market. For business broadband, BT has a 50-60 percent market share,” TalkTalk Business managing director Charles Bligh told TechWeekEurope. “Unlike the consumer market where there’s four largely the same incumbents, there’s one large player who is charging a huge amount of money. We are probably the second biggest ISP with less than 10 percent market share.”

Research conducted by TalkTalk suggests the 90 percent of SMBs believe broadband will be fundamental to their success in 2015 and the company hopes it can take advantage of tighter budgets following Christmas excesses with a half price 12 month broadband offer.

For £5.20 a month for six months, and £10.40 thereafter, as well as £14.50 line rental, customers receive unlimited broadband and landline calls as well as unlimited calls to mobiles.

“We are the only ones who do unlimited mobile [calls],” added Bligh.

Mobile and converged

TalkTalk Business has plans to offer ‘triple-play’ packages later this year, mimicking what TalkTalk already offers to consumers. A new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement has been inked with O2, allowing TalkTalk to offer what it calls an “inside-out” MVNO.

Users will be able to access O2’s 4G network when out and about, but femtocells installed in TalkTalk’s routers will ensure superior coverage and faster speeds indoors and reduce the company’s operating costs.

“The cost for us is dramatically lower,” said Bligh. “That’s a really big thing for us, both in the consumer market and in B2B.”

He said more would be revealed later this year, adding that TalkTalk also plans to tap into growing demand for converged communications.

“That is a market that is ripe for disruption,” he explained, claiming that services like VoIP were too expensive and as a result, adoption was slower in the UK than in the US.

Super connected cities

Bligh has previously given his support to the government’s super connected cities voucher scheme, which allows SMBs to apply for grants of up to £3,000 for the installation of superfast broadband in 22 cities, and still thinks the project is a “good thing” now it has been extended – even if it might be the most cost-effective way of boosting fibre adoption.

“It’s been quite successful for us,” he said. “Over the past few months we’ve seen our fibre uptake improve noticeably, not massive, but noticeably. The reason is because it’s simpler and we do all the work.

“We’re more positive on it but when [the government has] a broad, rushed programme, it’s not efficient in every case.”

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