Full fibre rollout: Q&A with Simon Leather at Connected Britain 2019

Full fibre rollout: Q&A with Simon Leather at Connected Britain 2019

Simon Leather, Head of Product Development

Simon Leather, Head of Product Development

Last month I took part in a panel discussion at the Connected Britain 2019 conference to discuss what the full fibre rollout will look like for the channel. I was joined by an esteemed panel of connectivity providers, including Entanet, Six Degrees Group, Glide Business and Babble.

I caught up with Total Telecom after the session to talk about the opportunities that full fibre brings to the channel:

Don’t worry if you missed out on the panel session at Connected Britain, you can read some of the questions and my answers below.

How are you using/intending to use the fibre networks that will be available to you from your upstream network partners?

Part of our role in the wholesale market is how we leverage opportunities in these localities, whether that’s speed or pricing. At the same time, we aim to provide uniformity, so our Partners don’t need to know about the specifics of the market. We want to make it simple; Partners can transact with us and provide services in that area – that’s going to be our strategic focus going forwards.

Does the availability of more fibre assist in accelerating the digital transformation of UK SMEs? Have they been lagging behind the large corporates, and will fibre availability help bridge this gap? How does your company help with this digital transformation programmes?

TalkTalk has a history of innovation, such as the launch of EFM products, entry-level leased lines and so on, and we will continue to do that with FTTP as it rolls out. We don’t just plan on taking the access services provided by the local builder and repackaging it and selling it – there is an opportunity to innovate there.

We have some Partners that address the SME segment who leverage the connectivity that we provide in different ways, such as free Wi-Fi, changing business models, cloud-based accounting, small businesses packages etc. We have a long-standing relationship with Partners who take existing connectivity and wrap it with other services to create a distinctive proposition. TalkTalk Business will continue to focus on connectivity Partners, providing them with the opportunity to innovate.

Simon Leather presenting infront of a screen

What are the key barriers that your company, or other companies like yours, may face when trying to make the most of the fibre rollouts? How do you propose to overcome them?

We’re seeing three main barriers in the fibre rollout and the first is the patchy nature of full fibre availability. This drives additional complexity, as there is a range of options and idiosyncrasies around the terminology, SLAs speed etc, which can be confusing for our Partners. The second is that the solutions cut across multiple technologies, such as FTTP, FTTC, Ethernet, and trying to manage a rollout of all these things creates even more complexity. Finally, there’s the future perspective when you consider voice services, FTTP is data only so some of our Partners will still need to provision voice services. How do they do that in a way that’s cost effective?

How will this ‘modified landscape’ affect your partnerships with the fibre providers? Both the existing partnerships and any potential new partnership?

As you may know, TalkTalk has a strong relationship with Openreach. In addition, our fibre trials in York have provided us with great experience and an understanding of what it takes to build a full fibre network. 

However, we know that our relationship with Openreach is going to change as we begin to engage with altnets. How do we hide some of the complexity discussed earlier and present to the channel a single set of portals and APIs that our Partners can start using?

The nature of our channel environment is going to change. We can’t see the UK as one overall geographical location anymore, we need to understand where our Partners are strong and where we can help them grease the wheels of digital Britain.