Friday, April 06, 2018

3 Headlines

U.S. Telcos Have Lost 87% of Voice Accounts in 18 Years

Can Independent ISPs Get 50% Market Share? "Can independent internet service providers (public or private) actually get 50-percent market share when competing against telcos and cable companies? Ting Internet believes so, but results from other firms suggest the level of competitor pricing really does matter."

Will Fixed Wireless Be a "Deploy at Scale" Choice for Telcos? TPX, Windstream and others have offered fixed wireless for years, but hardly at scale.


There was research that shows outsourced IT billing shrank 33% last year.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

3 Books

Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World by Vernon W. Hill II with Bob Andelman [There is a review HERE.]

Tom Peters has a new book out yesterday. The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last

from GapingVoid:
"Business is by definition, transactional. After all, things are bought and sold, services are rendered, and value received.
The issue is that you don't want your people inside your business [with a couple of exceptions] to be only focused on transactions. What matters more is meaning, purpose and connection."

Attention is Currency (kind of about content marketing) is an ebook available HERE.

The follow up ebook to that came out last week: Once Upon a Digital Age.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Telco Revenue Pressure

"At the end of fourth-quarter 2017, Telephone & Data Systems had 567,700 residential wireline connections compared with 585,400 in the year-ago quarter. The company exited the reported quarter with 310,100 commercial wireline connections, down 5.9% year over year. Total cable connections were 315,100, up 7.8% year over year."

As of Dec 31, 2017, Frontier Communications had 3,938,000 high-speed broadband subscribers, down 7.8% and 961,000 video customers, down 16.1% year over year.

Cable is up for broadband and voice. (Everyone is losing TV subscribers, even DISH. The cost being the number 1 reason.)

Altice ARPU is $140, which is pretty good.

Windstream, AT&T and CenturyLink face declines in legacy wireline revenues. "Barclays says that overall wireline providers have collectively seen challenges throughout 2017. Barclays said, "While ongoing declines in legacy services such as voice and low-bandwidth data services are not new, the combination of accelerated legacy losses and weaker than expected growth in strategic initiatives have continued to pressure the sector."

Barclays added that these issues "coupled with the prospect for continued competition from higher capacity network operators (i.e. cable and fiber providers), debt-laden capital structures and the specter of technology disruption (e.g. SD-WAN) suggests that these structural challenges are unlikely to abate anytime soon."

The reasons there has been so much consolidation are the following: (1) the pie is full; (2) sales is harder and harder; (3) price pressure means contracts are renewed for less; (4) year over year decreasing revenues coupled with growing debt means consolidate to fix the balance sheet (short term thinking).

Consolidated bought Fairpoint (2 RLECs merging). They are facing pricing pressure from cellcos as it brings fiber to 2700 towers. 5G means more fiber is needed for all those small cells that will be erected, but pricing pressure will ramp up since there isn't an ROI on $750 per small cell.

Gary Kim writes Historic Change in Telco Business Thinking. They have to start battling, since every dollar that cable makes in business is a dollar taken right from the coffers of the telco.

What does this mean for your business?
What does the competitive landscape look like?

During this webinar, we will discuss SD-WAN briefly as well as what the competition is offering BUT more important: where does the opportunity lies? Join me for a Q&A presentation on March 9, 2018 at Noon Eastern time.

Just $10 on March 9th at Noon Eastern time: REGISTER HERE.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Rural Broadband in 2018

First off you have historic CAF funding: $2 Billion CAF II Auction Will Provide Broadband Expansion Funding. The Connect America Fund has been helping to bridge the digital divide that rural America is facing.

On the one hand, the National Journal asks, "Does Rural America Really Need Billions in Federal Broadband Funds?" Experts are increasingly skeptical that Washington will allocate enough infrastructure money to wire rural America with high-speed internet, despite CAF funds. Will Corporate America figure it out before the Duopoly? Experiments from SpaceX, Facebook, Alphabet and more may find the answer. However, the big bet is on 5G, which is a a marketing buzz term. 5G technology and chips are not delivering any more speed than 4G LTE can. Go figure! IEEE Spectrum has a good read.

The Brookings Institute writes, "Communities can’t afford to wait for the federal government to obtain next gen broadband."

"It’s been less than a decade since the release of the National Broadband Plan, but the evidence is now even stronger that next-generation broadband networks create a number of benefits. Various studies have concluded that such networks result in improved property values, improved economic performance, and lower broadband prices—benefits shared across the general community," Blair Levin states.

"The FCC in 2016 estimated that connecting rural areas to next generation broadband is a $40-80 billion challenge... What is far more promising, however, are a number of models of community-led upgrades that did not exist in 2011." It's up to the private sector.

BTW, Alphabet says Google Fiber is on hold until they can make it 10x better than it is - in other words, on hold in definitely.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Change in Driving

Fred Wilson writes about his observation that in LA there is a shift happening to more ride sharing and less driving a car. And how some kids are not even learning to drive. (Parents are saving on insurance!)

I know a few people in their 40s in Tampa who gave up their car. All ride share or a private driver.

AngelList has a write up on the number of companies (and the immense funding) going into driverless cars.

There is a shift happening that insurance companies, car manufacturers, financial institutes and the ancillary businesses better pay attention to. It will disrupt them all - and sooner rather than later. (I won't have to hear any more GEICO commercials soon!!!)

Why should you care?

Retail, Restaurants, Hotels, Cabs and more are being disrupted by Amazon, Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, UberEats and more.

How will any of this affect your business?

Well, if Comcast is any indication, they are selling 4G and broadband access together under their SD-WAN bundle. Other providers are too. Some analysts think that apps will sell access (or include it). If that's the case, 4G/5G will become the primary ISP.

In other disruption, Workplace by Facebook has signed up WalMart, Farmers Insurance, Starbucks Corp. and 30,000 other organizations! According to the WSJ, "Launched in October 2016, with 1,000 commercial users, Workplace has since attracted more than 30,000 organizations, together forming over 1 million separate user groups, Facebook says. They include small and midsize ventures … as well as Wal-Mart Stores Inc."

Be flexible. Listen to your customers. Innovate.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Business Strategy for Service Providers

From the 2018 FISPA LIVE Show Guide is my article about Business Strategy for Service Providers.

Join me for two sessions on Wed., 2/7/17 at FISPA LIVE:  Bundling to Compete and How to Have Your Best Year Ever!

For many years I have been chanting Layer 1 or Layer 7. In other words, either own the network (OSI Layer 1 – the copper, the fiber or the airwaves) or own the customer at the desktop. Layer 7 was my way of saying software – SaaS or Managed IT or UC or Virtual Desktop. Legacy ISPs have
provided their value-add at the data link (Layer 2) or network (Layer 3) layer. This resale model is difficult and not very profitable.

Since then, many members of FISPA have embraced a hybrid business model of resale, fixed wireless, fiber and managed services, combining several OSI layers.

Today, the business strategy of a service provider has to be about the Customer Experience (CX). Service delivery by the Big Guys is as automated as they can make it. That provides great benefits to the cost of service delivery, but it wreaks havoc on customer service.

“Profits follow customer satisfaction, not the other way around,” wrote famous management consultant Peter Drucker. The strategy should be to have a culture of caring. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.”

A few years ago Rackspace and Zappos were the talk of the business world due to Rackspace’s Fanatic Support and Zappos’ CEO touring the country about culture and happiness. Comcast and AT&T have yet to embrace any of those mantras. But that is good for you!

If you look at the UCaaS sector as an example, there isn’t a provider that stands out for service delivery. That could be the differentiation point for that sector and would result in decent word of mouth, the best social marketing you can get.

The Customer Experience in telecom is pretty awful after the contract is inked. It is at these points when you win or lose future business. Even if they stay through the contract, the bad taste in their mouth from poor customer experience will be with them. The big complaint during a network outage isn’t the outage itself; customers understand that. It is the lack of communications that is the issue. Customers seek clear communications acknowledging the outage, the estimated repair time, etc. That goes into CX.

Every touch of the customer goes into CX – from the installer cleaning up after himself to the billing admin’s friendly demeanor. On and on at each touch point is a chance to keep or lose a customer. It is also an opportunity to turn a customer into a brand evangelist. An evangelist will tell people about your service.

It doesn’t matter if you are an MSP, VAR, ISP or fiber operator, re-examine each customer touch point. One reason is to ensure that the processes and procedures are written down. Another reason is to get input from the people who work at that junction to provide feedback on ways to remove friction (and perhaps add some awesomeness).

Each touch-point is a chance to keep or lose a customer, and an opportunity to turn a customer into a brand evangelist that will tell people about your service. Current business strategies include customer feedback loops – for instance, implement a Board of Customers.

Internally, ensure that processes and procedures are documented, and create operational teams to get input from employees who work at every customer contact point (personal, phone, email, websites, portals and customer contact systems). Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system that all departments and all employees must use will increase your knowledge base on each customer, and empower employees to provide a better CX. Be sure to monitor social media and proactively provide feedback (and increase market awesomeness). It’s little things that end up being major: Follow-up emails; handwritten thank you notes; clear, simple communications; and follow-through are the hallmarks of customer experience, and the keys to future sales.

As Zig Ziglar said, “Sales is helping!”

If you design a culture of customer experience, sales will increase. Taking friction out of the way for customers will streamline some processes. Just the exercise of looking at all these touch points – of the whole service delivery process – will provide some upside. And it is all upside when you have a strategy to make the customer experience better.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ISP Table Stakes

What has become table stakes for ISPs?

On fiber, it has to be 100MB minimum.

Any service has to offer enough throughput so Netflix doesn't buffer.

The wi-fi, which the consumer cannot separate from the Internet pipe, has to work really well. This is a problem when the household has more than a dozen devices connected to an AP. Even AT&T has proclaimed, "Improving the in-home Wi-Fi experience has become ‘table stakes’ in the competitive broadband marketplace."

Google’s Chromecast and Home devices can cause temporary Wi-Fi outages, here’s why.

If you are going to FISPA LIVE, come see Marketing: Bundles to Compete.