In a news cycle dominated by coronavirus and Brexit negotiations, it is hardly surprising that telecommunications infrastructure investment hardly gets a look in. But peer more closely and this is actually a bit of a turning point for telecoms infrastructure in the UK. And it’s a good moment to start speaking to your customers about network upgrades and expansions.
In January, Ofcom set out proposals on “supercharging investment in fibre broadband” to “transform the business case for fibre investment” alongside a £5 billion spending package for rural areas. Infrastructure was also a major plank in the ‘Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services’ published by the government last year.
“The Government is committed to providing the UK with world-class digital connectivity that is gigabit-capable, reliable, secure and widely available across the UK,” it said.
A host of important measures
Just some of the measures included in the strategic priorities document include:
- A “no undue discrimination” condition on Openreach that requires it to provide physical infrastructure access to all communications providers on equivalent terms.
- Complementary access to passive infrastructure owned by other utilities and by transport infrastructure providers such as Network Rail.
- A broadband Universal Service Obligation providing a legal right to request a broadband connection with a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps.
- Nationwide deployment of gigabit-capable broadband networks “at pace.”
- High-quality mobile coverage across 95% of the UK by 2022, as well as an uninterrupted mobile signal on all major roads.
- Greater convergence between fixed fibre networks and fifth generation (5G) mobile.
If it is achieved, the government’s vision should see UK businesses and citizens enjoying almost continuous high-speed connectivity, enabling a host of applications.
The scene is set for transformation
At the mundane level, this will likely mean never again having to worry about dropping a videoconference connection. Further down the line, though, ubiquitous connectivity could lead to advanced services such as continuous sensor-based monitoring and edge computing in industrial processes.
Naturally, it remains to be seen just how much of the Strategic Priorities plan is achieved in practice. But there is reason to take the government at its word on this. With Brexit effectively “done”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to come good on his assurance that Britain will be better outside of the European Union than within it. And that means spending on infrastructure.
The advent of superfast fibre-optic broadband, which Ofcom says will be up to five times more reliable than copper, and 5G networks promises to transform UK businesses. But first they need to tool up to take advantage of it. And that’s where your digital marketing efforts come it.
Planning your digital marketing campaigns
Recent research shows less than half of UK businesses are confident about implementing 5G technologies, and only 15% are currently investing in it. But that level is set to increase to 70% within three years. Part of the problem for now is that business leaders probably do not realise what 5G and fibre-optic broadband can deliver, nor how much they stand to lose if they delay in taking advantage of these technologies.
Hence. it’s important that you start a dialogue with your customers about the uniqueness of the current situation, and the potential that it has for achieving a competitive advantage. Right now, you should be talking to your customers about:
- What’s happening: new network technologies are coming to the UK, backed by massive government spending plans.
- Why this is important: improved network infrastructure can help UK enterprises become more profitable and productive in a host of areas, from adopting process automation to improving branch connectivity.
- What needs to happen now: customers need to make sure their current network infrastructures are able to take advantage of improved connectivity and support next-generation applications and services.
- How you can help: you should offer free network assessments or proofs of concept related to advanced technologies such as software-defined networking.
- What’s at stake: outline the risks of lagging behind by publishing case studies and return-on-investment studies on early adopters.
- Why act now: many companies will be using 5G as an excuse to upgrade their systems. Any business that lags behind could see its competitiveness seriously eroded in the coming years.
To drive engagement, we recommend using the tried-and-tested AIDA model to structure your digital campaigns, as follows:
- Highlight Ofcom announcements and government spending plans on social media and in email campaigns, blog posts and online advertising to drive awareness.
- Use search engine optimisation techniques to ensure that searches around ‘IT infrastructure investment’ are directed to your online platforms, capturing interest.
- Offer case studies and free assessments to create desire.
- Prompt action with time-limited equipment and service offers, such as reductions on wireless router products, which you can sell via telemarketing campaigns.
There’s never a bad moment to sell telecommunications infrastructure, but right now is probably the best time we’ve seen in several years. Many of your customers will have paused their spending plans pending the outcome of the Brexit debate and a clearer view of the impact of new technologies including 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
The importance of timing
With those concerns now out of the way, there is likely to be a fair amount of customer cash being queued up for investment. And nowadays, few enterprise customers need reminding of the importance of network infrastructure.
Furthermore, it will pay technology-led businesses to invest soon in their IT infrastructure so that they can move quickly onto the delivery of new products and services over 5G and high-speed broadband. It is these products and services, rather than the infrastructure itself, that will deliver returns for your customers. So, there’s no time to lose in building the foundations.
Once you can get behind the day-to-day headlines, the chances are most of your customers will be receptive to the need to get going with infrastructure investments. All you need to do is get talking, and we can offer you the data, technology and advice you need for a compelling conversation.