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ShareControl – The real network differentiator

Lee Hill

Lee Hill, Pre-Sales Technical Manager

What kind of network does your provider have and how is it different to everyone else? Do they own the physical infrastructure or do they operate an essentially ‘virtual’ network based on rental and access agreements? Do you know? Do you care? Have you ever asked the question? Does it even matter as long as it’s reliable?

Does it matter?
In reality, as long as the provider’s network is fit for purpose and providing you with a reliable and high quality service, you may not have even considered the infrastructure that’s actually used, or care for that matter. But, it is an important factor in your choice of provider as the type of network they operate will impact on how much control they actually have over that network, which could of course considerably affect the level of service delivered. Consider, what happens when there is a major outage? Or how the network will expand for the future? Is that their decision or someone else’s?

Types of network
You could be forgiven for thinking that there are two fundamental types of network:

Physically owned networks – The provider installs, fixes and owns the physical cables in the ground and is therefore fully responsible for them and has complete control.

Virtual networks – The provider utilises the physical infrastructure of another supplier (e.g. BT Wholesale) via a series of rental and access agreements and licenses. Therefore, the provider is still reliant on the infrastructure owner to fix and expand the network (e.g. via Openreach).

However, it’s much more complicated than that and there are effectively various levels of ‘virtual network’ which deliver varying levels of control and influence.

For example, some providers unbundle particular exchanges to create an LLU based network which delivers an increased level of control. Others, like Entanet, have physical equipment in various locations across the UK and have a higher level of ‘agreement’ with the underlying infrastructure owner, delivering more control and influence than many of our competitors. Even where the network is physically owned by the provider, many have agreements in place for backhaul. So it’s really not a clear cut answer – there are many variations on the way in which networks can be constructed.

However, the key consideration for resellers is the level of control the provider has.

  • How do they manage their network?
  • Do they have any influence or means to expand or improve the network in the future?
  • How much control do they have when it comes to fixing faults and outages quickly and efficiently?
  • How does this network ‘type’ affect the quality of service delivered?

Perhaps, consider whether or not they have their own network engineers or NOC team monitoring and maintaining the network or do they rely on their supplier or a third party? Do they offer any NOC style tools or services to you as a partner such as disconnection features or connection reports such as who’s online/offline or even better – a virtual NOC like our Mirada interface? These all provide you as a partner with value added tools that you can promote to your own customers.

Ownership – The ultimate control
Of course the best level of control is achieved when a provider owns their own infrastructure in the ground. This gives them the advantage not only of having direct management of the infrastructure and the traffic passing over it, but also how and where it evolves to meet aggregated business demand. We achieved exactly this when Entanet merged with CityFibre, the UK’s largest independent alternative full-fibre infrastructure provider CityFibre.

We always stood out in the market for our pioneering approach, but now we have access to our own physically owned full-fibre infrastructure which continues to expand across the UK at pace. We obviously have significantly more control and transparency across our own CityFibre network, delivering increased benefits to our highly competitive CityFibre based Internet access and Ethernet services. If you would like to find out more about our new offerings contact us on 0330 100 3550 or email sales@enta.net.

How do I find out more about my providers’ networks?
The answer to that is simple – ask them. If you would like to know more about how your provider’s’ networks really work and how much control they truly have try asking them the following questions to obtain the important detail from them:

  • Did you physically design and build your network yourselves?
  • Did you acquire the network from an alternative carrier?
  • Do you have physical equipment in place? And if so, what types of equipment and where?
  • Did you rent/lease or have agreements in place with others for access to the network and/or back-haul?
  • Do you have means to expand, improve, replace and fix your network yourselves?
  • Do you manage your own traffic and equipment?
  • What level of control do you really have over your network?
  • How do you extend that control to your channel partners so they can add customer value?
  • And most importantly, how does that all affect my service?

If you’d like to talk to us more about our Entanet & CityFibre network or have any questions please contact us on 0330 100 3550.

Have your say!
Have you had similar conversations with your providers? Have you successfully identified which have the greatest levels of network control? Do you think it matters or is it just a way for providers to differentiate themselves? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below.

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