Vanco Plc plans to expand its NetDirect online connectivity mart from the North America and APAC to Europe and the rest of the world by the end of this year.
The London, UK-based virtual network operator launched the NetDirect service (to be found at www.vanconetdirect.com) last October for the first two geographies, based on its 2005 acquisition of Universal Access Global Holdings Inc. This was a company that provided Layer-1, point-to-point services such as leased and private line to carriers and cable operators in the US, enabling to buy them online from its website.
Vanco liked this business model as it enabled it to expand into the carrier space, where previously it had only sold managed WAN services to enterprises. It also saw the potential for rolling the service out to the rest of the world and, importantly, to add the possibility for buying Layer-3 services, routed IP connections rather than just bare wires, in the same way.
They offered L1 connectivity in North America, but we’ve taken that up to L3 and will offer the service globally, said Andy Sumner, MD of Vanco’s UK business. It’s ironic that, until now, you’ve been able to buy pretty much anything on the internet, except IP connectivity itself.
The NetDirect site is designed to end that anomaly, offering carriers, SIs and large enterprises wanting to manage their own WANs the ability to find all the options in terms of price and type of connection (MPLS or Direct Internet Access, DSL), with the plan being to extend it to 230 countries.
NetDirect has in fact become a separate business unit within Vanco, alongside the managed WAN business, now called Vanco Solutions. It is a classic intermediation service from Vanco. The difference is that it merely charges a fee for providing the online price comparison and contacts, rather than delivering an offline brokerage service.
On the Vanco Solutions side, Sumner said the company is gradually moving towards the delivery of converged voice and data services to some of its customers, i.e. with both types of traffic running across the same managed WAN across multiple countries.
Vanco has been providing voice services on the same VNO basis as data for about three years, though that’s mainly in-country, whereby we negotiate a better deal with a local voice telephony provider for PSTN services, he began. Our first multi-country voice and data contract was with Euromaster [a branch of French tire company Michelin] and they’re already moving towards converged services on the same IP network.
He emphasized, however, that Vanco does not seek to force-feed convergence to all its WAN customers. It’s only if the business case makes sense: you have to have a fully switched LAN in place, and if a customer sill has a few years left to amortize their PBX, that will be another factor to think about, he said.