Inflexible contracts blocking UK economic recovery, Virgin Media O2 claims

Almost half of businesses surveyed say they are locked into contracts that force them to pay for services they don't need

Man signing a contract

Businesses are struggling to bounce back from the pandemic due to lengthy and inflexible IT contracts, new research from Virgin Media O2 Business has found.

The survey, conducted over one week in May and June of this year, consulted 250 senior IT decision makers from UK firms with at least 50 employees.

It found that almost half of senior IT managers (44%) looking for support said they are locked into restrictive contracts and paying for services that don’t need, while 36% said renegotiating fixed-term contracts is a barrier to operational flexibility and decision making over the next 18-24 months.

“Businesses are crying out for more flexibility, certainty, and value to unlock the power of digital technology and bounce back stronger,” said Mike Hallam, director of Fixed Wholesale at Virgin Media O2 Business.

While more than 90% of senior IT managers believe that investment in new digital services will help them to do this, 57% do not consider their business to be agile enough to respond to changing conditions.

Nearly half (47%) of those looking for IT support say that committing to long-term contracts involves significant upfront fees that their business cannot afford, while 42% see multi-year contracts as risky in the current climate.

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In terms of support, 43% said they would like more from their connectivity provider, and the flexibility to end contracts with partners without penalty.

The survey findings coincide with Virgin Media Business’ launch of ‘UltimateFlex’, a new contracting model for wholesale services. The setup offers customers anytime cancellation as standard for managed ethernet, internet access, and high-capacity services.

The firm says it has also removed installation charges on wholesale products as part of the model, while excess construction charges have also been removed.

“After a bruising year, we’re giving partners a leg up with our radical new model which abolishes upfront fees, provides lifetime price confidence, and comes with anytime cancellation so they have the tools they need to thrive, whatever comes next,” Hallam added.

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