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O2 targets SMEs with business-broadband deal

The new Business Broadband service offers free 24/7 UK-based support, adds on-site support, and offers a process where call centres will prioritise business calls over others
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

Mobile operator O2 UK has launched a business broadband service and extended the coverage of its home broadband offering to the whole of the UK from 1 May.

The Business Broadband offering is targeted at SMEs and, as with O2's Home Broadband service, comes with free 24/7 UK-based support. Business customers can also get on-site support at no extra cost.

Mike Fairman, head of O2 broadband, told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site, silicon.com: "As with our consumer products, all of our customer service is 24/7 UK-based and free to call and that's the same for business. But what we've added to that is a prioritisation process where calls into our call centre from businesses are prioritised over others. And also we've added on-site support as well."

Fairman said the call centres are based in Glasgow and Leeds.

He added: "The reason for that is that broadband is very, very critical for a lot of businesses these days — which means they don't want to contemplate being out of service for too long."

O2 is buying and rebranding a BT Wholesale product to roll out nationwide coverage for its broadband offering. Fairman said it currently has 57 percent population coverage for its LLU (local loop unbundling) product — and is aiming to ramp that up to 68 percent by the end of August.

He added: "It's not economically viable to go and unbundle all 5,500 exchanges in the UK — we're only about to do that up to a certain degree. But what we will be doing in the future is looking at opportunities for us to roll out further — but that will depend upon the volume of business we're able to generate in those areas."

Both home and business offerings have unlimited downloads — subject to a fair-usage policy. And as part of the service O2 performs line-speed checks to ensure customers do not end up paying for faster speeds than their line is able to achieve.

The operator admitted it was late to market with home broadband, compared to rivals such as Orange, only launching its service in October last year. But Fairman said this was "a deliberate strategy" as the operator wanted to come to market with a "high-quality service" with a focus on the customer experience.

He added: "Our focus is on expanding our service both geographically and also in terms of the customers we want to provide the service to or target."

The Business package starts at £15 per month plus VAT for existing O2 customers, or £20 per month for non-O2 customers.

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