GigaOM has a great article on how BT is transforming itself from a hardware-based company to a software-based services company. Software as a service is a huge booming market. SaaS is seen a great way for traditional software suppliers to expand their markets from large enterprises down to SMEs, who do not necessarily have the technical or human resources to support their IT needs. However, their IP connection is the weak link.
A small entrepreneur friend of mine recently decided to request two broadband lines into his house — one simply as back-up, because no broadband meant no work. As more and more SMEs start to use web-based tools for their office infrastructure — think Gmail instead of Exchange or Basecamp instead of LAN-based tools — this will become more and more problematic. In addition, as these tools become more network-intensive, small glitches like packet loss or network lag will become bigger business problems.
There are a number of ways of solving this, but carriers are definitely in the right place with the right technology and billing model to step into this niche and grow it.