Next buys fixed line reseller Test Valley

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Southampton Vodafone loyalist readies itself for unified comms market assault

Vodafone B2B partner Next Communications has added fixed line to its business after acquiring Test Valley Communications.

Southampton-based Next Communications told Mobile News it had acquired fixed line provider Test Valley, also of Southampton on July 1 after six months of negotiations enabling it to enter the fixed line converged market for the first time.

The deal saw Next founder and managing director Mark Finlayson acquire 100 per cent of the shares from Test Valley, who have taken a 15 per cent equity share in Next instead of receiving cash, reducing Finlayson’s ownership to 85 per cent.

Test Valley will be re-branded and begin trading as Next from August 1 from the Next head office. All existing Test Valley customers have now been informed that all account management, customer service and billing will now be with Next.

Finlayson also confirmed there will be no redundancies as a result, and is currently training its existing staff to sell fixed line with mobile.

Next is already actively speaking to existing customers about its new services which include fixed line installation, management, VoiP and CTI computer integration. Finlayson described the acquisition as a “natural step” and will provide it with the fixed line expertise to  help with sales of Vodafone One Net when it become available later this year.

Finlayson said: “Telecommunications is a fast-moving, highly competitive market and we are simply responding to our customers’ demands.

“Combining our two businesses means we will be able to offer both a fixed line and mobile business solutions package – giving our customers a service which is second to none in this region.

“It’s exciting stuff and a great opportunity for us. The whole strategy is about building our recurring income. Vodafone spoke to the channel over a year ago about where the industry was moving to with convergence of mobile and fixed line, so it was obvious we needed sales and engineering capabilities in landline which we didn’t have.

“If we didn’t have that then we wouldn’t be able to play fully in the converged market as it develops. Their market strategy made us see this as imperative. It’s something I think we should have done sooner.

“We see Vodafone OneNet being a very important part of the converging market and we want to be very much part of that going forward. Without the in-house capabilities we now have we would not have been able to participate in OneNet properly as we wouldn’t be able to install and maintain the service.

“Having the two in house that we can control and manage fully gives us opportunities in the market we didn’t have before.”

Test Valley Communications managing director Mark Goulding added:  “It’s really our customers who stand to benefit.  Together, we can offer what is, in effect, a “one-stop-shop”.
“All communication needs can be managed and serviced from just one point of contact, thus saving time and increasing efficiency and quality of service, something for which both our companies are well-known.”

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