VMO2 pitches gigabit broadband to SoHo sector

VMO2 gigabit van

Virgin Media O2 is going after data-hungry small businesses with a new broadband plan that tops out at 1 Gbps.

It is being offered as part of a refreshed line-up of SoHo (small office, home office) services called Voom Fibre. It comes in four flavours starting at £33 per month for 400 Mbps download/40 Mbps upload. If that’s not zippy enough, then customers can fork out a bit extra for either 600 Mbps, 800 Mbps or the range-topping, £60-per-month 1 Gbps, each of which offers a slightly faster uplink of 50 Mbps.

Throughput isn’t the only part of the service that gets quicker on the pricier service plans, so does customer support. Businesses on the entry-level Voom 400 tariff will have to wait up to 24 working hours for their problem to be resolved, whereas those on the Voom Gig1 plan only have to wait 12.

VMO2 seems confident that tech woes will be few and far between though. The UK telco group has put reliability front and centre of its pitch, claiming that its network offers 99.9 percent uptime. If that’s not good enough, customers can opt for a 4G back-up connection just in case.

Small businesses often don’t get the attention from telcos they deserve. They are easy to overlook because they don’t employ many people and operate from one location. They may only need a single line, and they don’t tend to require much in the way of storage and compute resources. What they do want though is fast connectivity at a competitive price. It needs to be reliable, and there needs to be someone at the end of a phone when something goes wrong. All of this makes small business customers more expensive to acquire and serve. It’s much more attractive for telcos to pursue long-term contracts with large enterprises that want all the bells and whistles for their hundreds of employees.

The SoHo market is a tough nut worth cracking though, when you consider that, according to government statistics, 5.5 million of the UK’s 5.6 million private sector businesses employ between one and 50 people. 35,600 companies employ 50-249 staff, while only 7,700 employ more than 250.

BT is having a go at the SoHo market. The UK incumbent last year launched what it calls ‘unbreakable’ Wi-Fi, which offers speeds of up to 900 Mbps. Now that VMO2 is attempting to muscle in with Gig1, it suggests that small businesses are starting to get a bit more love.

“Small businesses are what keep the UK economy going – and we know that now, more than ever, they can’t afford to slow down,” said Gregg Pearce, director of SoHo at VMO2, in a statement. “Our customers have told us that what they value most is speed, reliability and flexibility, which is why we’re introducing the UK’s fastest widely available business broadband speeds with the launch of Voom Gig1 business broadband.”

Pearce claims thousands of small businesses pre-registered their interest in gigabit broadband ahead of the launch.

“From dog walkers to coffee shops, accountants to influencers, now Gig1 is here, it’s time to bring UK small businesses up to speed,” he declared.


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