How important is SDN for the industry and what is your company doing to implement and deploy this technology capability?
We see SDN as critical to our business and a logical next step for the wider industry, so much so our entire network is already fully software defined, across our core and out to the edge devices on end customer premises. We believe that this is a UK first. The speed and automation it offers was central to achieving the roll out of our UK wide network within 10 months, we delivered an additional 212 fibre exchanges, covering over 75% of UK business addresses. We are also giving our partners access to a set of the SDN controls so that they can amend configuration of their customers solutions in real time, either via our portal, or by the end of 2017 through a suite of API's to allow direct integration

Are you seeing Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning deployed (or planning to deploy) in your business - and how?
The possibilities for effective AI are really exciting, especially in the consumer space. I think it will take longer to penetrate the world of business, for example there is no sign of automating the support desk any time soon. Products are simply too complex in nature, but simple items could be filtered out. The most immediate possibilities we see are for automating things like network diagnostics; where it can sense an issue, raise a ticket automatically and present an engineer with all of the information and context they would need to trouble shoot and fix. As technology develops and machine learning becomes more capable, the ability to apply intelligence from learned behaviour onto network to reduce risk and address challenges becomes very compelling. Both of these developments would deliver better SLA’s, less service disruption as well as better commercials, through the lower overheads required.

Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
ITW is a hugely valuable industry event for us. Bringing the community together in one place is a prime opportunity for us. As a new entry into the global market place following the completion of our UK wide network, it’s a key resource in raising awareness of our proposition to carriers seeking a UK footprint, and to reinforce our existing relationships. This will be our second year of exhibiting, after the success we had in 2017. We are increasing our participating and doubling the size of the team we are sending.

Tom is the founder and CEO of Virtual1. After a high performing career in the global carrier market, he started the business responding to an opportunity he had seen in the market. Virtual1 began 11 years ago, first as a network aggregator, before evolving into the UK's most advanced carrier, covering over 75% of UK business.