Chairman Snaps Up Local Firms

The New Saints Chairman Mike Harris has snapped up a trio of telecomms firms to form a new business he hopes will help boost resellers’ sales.

The Network Selector was set up by Harris – who built Total Network Solutions (TNS) before it was acquired by BT in 2005 – in order to snap up the three Shropshire firms: telephony and hosting outfit Ocean Communications, broadband and IP supplier Talkativo and hosting firm Planet Hippo.

The parent company now turns over around £2m a year and employs between 30 and 40 staff at its Oswestry headquarters – which used to be home to TNS, but is now the new base for the three newly acquired firms’ staff, which have relocated there. Harris told CRN that business has boomed since the acquisitions and that he hopes to double sales in the coming 12 months.

The Network Selector is targeting resellers which do not want to invest in costly billing platforms and are keen to own their customer relationships, according to Harris, who said the recent demise of Phones 4u acted as a wake-up call for the comms channel.

“We have responded by putting the power back with resellers to take full ownership of their customers and prevent network providers from pulling the rug out from under their feet,” he said. “Resellers feel very nervous about just acting as an agent.”

Harris said another important part of the Talkativo business is a roaming service which allows users to switch to the network provider which works best in a particular geographic area.

He said although the firm operates across the UK and internationally, the service is particularly popular in rural areas close to where the firm is based on the Welsh border.

“Many times, your mobile works perfectly in the office but you go home and find that that particular provider doesn’t work very well,” he said. “We have a service which automatically switches them to another operator then returns them to their base provider [after].

“In the city it doesn’t matter but we’ve found a lot of businesses who provide a unilateral platform for all employees, dish them out a mobile phone but they get home and find they are in a black spot. It’s ideal for those situations.”

The Network Selector is targeting customers of all sizes – from multinationals to one-man bands – and said there are no specific vertical markets it has its eye on. It claims its price- and service-comparison tools will be popular among its channel partners.

“The tool enables resellers to analyse existing bills and recommends alternative solutions that best meet individual usage and geographic requirements,” the firm said.

“This enables customers to see for themselves the savings they could achieve using leading networks, which are likely to be in the region of 20 to 30 per cent annually.”


(Article courtesy of CRN UK