Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer is Here, What About Fall?

Summer is in full swing. Now is the time to plan for autumn or winter. Nicholas Bates has 6 questions CEOs should be asking:

How are we planning to make this autumn/fall our best ever?
How are we ensuring price is NEVER the top of the list of decision criteria for our customers?
How will our leadership ensure our people consistently deliver of their best?
What kind of company will we be in 5 years from now?
Where is the slack, the waste and the hidden cost in our business?
What would a secret shopper say after trying to deal with us?

On a similat note, Fred Wilson (the NYC based venture capitalist) wrote a little about Leadership is different than management.

One last cool article about why startups failed. These 12 startups died in Q2. Here’s why and how at VB.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Roku and OTT Strategy

In this article, Roku has some good news. "Roku may well be the most familiar streaming OTT device to consumers, thanks in large part to an aggressive retail strategy. But Roku is also now turning their attention to service provider partnerships to help place Roku devices in consumer homes."

A few RLECs already offer a Roku bundle, where the Roku device is the set top box rented for $4.95 to $5.95 per month for a device that sells for between $39 and $99. I have watched this device add a huge amount of apps in the last year - some for free content (e.g., Crackle, CNN) and many paid (e.g., Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, HBO). I think Sling TV can be played over Roku. (Sling TV has 3 outages since its launch this year. OUCH!)

Why would this bundle work? "we’ve got Netflix and Hulu and Pandora and CBS All Access, you’ve now got consumers managing multiple bills from multiple content partners,” said Roku vice president for pay TV, Andrew Ferrone. Single Bill!

"How fast will the U.S. market for over-the-top (OTT) video service grow, what’s driving growth and what will the market look like in three years? Forty-five leading providers of entertainment content and services weigh in on these topics in a market research report released today, July 14, by research firm MTM and sponsored by enterprise-grade subscription-billing specialist Vindicia and video and advertising analytics provider Ooyala." [telecomp] There is a Long Tail for everything. The key is that the Long Tail can be very profitable because it is niche!

HBO, CBS, Starz and now Showtime are all available without a cable subscription. 'Showtime is owned by CBS Corp.' - so CBS must be seeing success with OTT.

So how fast is cord-cutting accelerating? "Nearly one-third of domestic Netflix subscribers do not have traditional pay-TV service." Compare with "In a survey conducted back in June 2013, analysts at Cowen & Company found that almost 75% of domestic Netflix subscribers still had pay-TV." [source]

Comcast is looking at an OTT product launch. VZW is looking at OTT on cellular to attract more Millenials - and to make buck son ads.

Just to add to the fire: "Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter on Friday accusing big cable companies of using monopoly powers to muscle consumers into paying higher prices." [source]

If nothing else, get ready for the OTT storm that will be assaulting your networks more and more.

The Giga Promise

This is copy from a PR firm for IKANOS, the broadband chip maker.

"The promise of consumer broadband at one gigabit per second (1Gbps) has created a new skirmish in the broadband wars. The nation’s telecommunications service providers are gearing up, with Fiber-to-the-Home, or FTTH, providing gigabit broadband in select municipalities today. Meanwhile, a gigabit service called is slated to roll out starting in 2016, over the copper telephone lines that are installed in over 95% of US residences. And then there’s cable. Comcast recently announced plans for 2Gbps service rollouts, in a challenge to the current or coming rollouts of FTTH by Google, AT&T, and other service providers, and the pending rollout of"

"Gigabit broadband has created huge new opportunities for carriers and service providers, who will gain by delivering a host of revenue-generating broadband apps and services to connected homes, and to support bandwidth-hungry devices such as 4K (and the upcoming 8K) TVs."

It seems that Gigabit will only further power the Internet Economy that we find ourselves in. Despite fighting upgrading broadband pipes, the Duopoly may reap some rewards from going Giga.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Slack-ing Off

Yesterday I met with IDEA2, a PAAS company that allows anyone to build an integrated app in a short time. All the elements are built into the platform including API integration with a number of software apps, like Salesforce and Slack.

Slack is one of the fast growing apps. One million users log on each day. Slack is a workflow app. There's a story behind it. This company raised a chuck on money - about $25M - to build a game. After burning through $19M they realized it wasn't going to happen. However, the platform that they used to communicate and collaborate (and manage workflow) is Slack.

In the market of VoIP, integrations are key. Think about a Slack integration.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

3 Reasons I Talk About Marketing So Much

There are 3 reasons I talk about marketing so much.

1) Marketing is Everything. Every touch of the marketplace is marketing. The brand is an accumulation of every interaction with your business.

2) The best tech doesn't win. Microsoft won because they made strategic deals and marketed the heck out of their crappy operating systems. Even their server O/S. The MCSE certificate program was marketing.

3) Most tech and telecom companies suck at marketing. They don't even tell a decent story.

So that is why I write about marketing so much.

Performance-Planning Grid

Yesterday I was surprised by a potential client's reaction to usage of my time. I had to take a step back to reply. It obviously means that I have not explained my value clearly enough.

When you engage RAD-INFO INC, you get my years of experience working with over 65 service providers of all sizes - from 1 person shops to multi-million dollar nationwide CLECs to billion dollar cable companies.

Successful Projects for my clients have included network design, hiring, branding, messaging, product launch, switch/vendor vetting, sales training, best practices, channel sales, social media, online marketing, direct mail, email marketing, sales, strategy, tactics, ideas, end-to-end organization evaluation and more.

Many think that it is the ideas that people want from me. No. Ideas are a commodity. Clients mainly pay for a plan and execution of those ideas.

I saw this Tom Peters slide on the Performance-Planning Grid. When you hire RAD-INFO INC, you get the upper right quadrant. Good planning, Good execution. You join the elite.

Monday, July 06, 2015

More Giga News from Mass, NYC

To follow up on questions from the blog last week on Gigabit Broadband projects, here is one from Massachusetts and one from NYC.

Wired West is a project in Western Massachusetts started in 2011 by 32 towns. The website is to get 40% of each town pre-signed before deployment. This is a 100 Mbps offering (to Gigabit) on a muni network. Engadget has a good read about it. This isn't Google-esque marketing, but then not much is.

In NYC, the Economic Develeopment Corp is putting up $5M to bring broadband to business zones. "Through the Connect IBZ program, Stealth Communications* will build a fiber optic network in the Southwest Brooklyn IBZ, and will work with NYCEDC and members of the community to determine a site for an outdoor wireless network that will be free to the public."

Another project will be handled by Xchange Telecom, which "will create a fiber core, fixed-wireless edge broadband network in the Long Island City, North Brooklyn, and Greenpoint-Williamsburg IBZs, enabling customers to receive service from network hubs wirelessly via rooftop-mounted equipment."

*Stealth is an ISP in NYC that used to run the Voice Peering Fabric. Now running fiber all over NYC.

Lessons from Gigabit by C.Spire.

If you are rolling out your own fiber, give RAD-INFO INC a call at 813-963-5884 for a boost in sales and penetration.

Be More Like Pearl Jam

One of my favorite bands is Pearl Jam. I love the music and their passion. The band expends a lot of energy on charity and fight wrongs. There is a debate over if PJ is over-rated. I think many bands can take a business lesson from PJ. And so can you.

The PJ model is similar to Grateful Dead. Dave Matthews, Phish, PJ and the Dead all had a tribe. They have a relationship with that tribe. They make products and songs for that tribe. They built community - more than a fan club. They give back. They rake in bucks. PJ makes $2.5 million per night in concert.

Not everyone is going to like your music. That's fine. Focus on the ones that DO like your music. Move them through the funnel. They listen on the radio (or Pandora or YouTube) for free. Maybe they buy an mp3. Release live albums or singles, even different versions of the same song - and occasionally throw in a cover. Invite people to the fan club. Tickets to concerts get released into the fan club first (to cheat scalpers). Special merchandise is fan club only. A gift gets sent every year to the fan club members. They go to shows - usually more than one per year.

You should be doing the same thing. Why aren't you? Don't want to bother your customers?

Note: a case study of DMB.

UC is Becoming Teamware

In a press release, Birch says TotalCloud PBX Sales Rise 70% in 2015. I have no idea how that is possible when it takes them forever to port AND that the second quarter just ended. Unless sales were like $100 per month in 4Q2014. "Birch mentions that their metered TotalCloud PBX plan starts at just $15.99 per seat."

If you are looking for more pricing and review, PCMag has Broadvoice Cloud PBX Review & Rating. This is the BSFT shop that bought IKANO.

Now that isn't really UC&C, but I figured for the ITSPs it would be good info. The UC&C space is heating up, but it really seems to be 8x8 and RC making all the noise. You don't hear about Alteva or Evolve or Thinking Phones or even Shoretel Sky making moves around UC&C. Citrix buying Grasshopper was a move. Cisco and Microsoft are the big names battling it out as they try to figure it out. Even ININ and Avaya have been quiet. This means that you have time to put the bundle and message together!

RC buys Glip to go deeper into the business UC market. This will move them toward UC&C, which is pivoting to mean teamware for the emphasis on collaboration. RC will re-brand Glip as RC Teams, according to this interview with the RC CEO Vlad.

Most of the noise in US is about either mobility or WebRTC.

The WebRTC noise is about browser based real-time comms (RTC). 3CX (a Windows based premise PBX) rolled out a new version of WebMeeting that uses WebRTC. WebRTC allows users to make audio and video calls and do some screen sharing via a browser (Firefox or Chrome) without plugins.

On the mobility front, Genband is pushing forward with fring as a mobile app and softphone as well as a cloud based ecosystem for its customers. It follows the BroadCloud plan. There has been a lot of chatter about the demise of the desk phone. It's just chatter, since a majority of phones are location based (receptionist, break room, lobby, warehouse)- and Boomers and some Gen X still want their desk phones. We need more FMC to bridge calls back and forth from mobile to desk. I think desk phones will be replaced by android phones and UC headsets that seamlessly work with mobile apps like UC-One or Skype. It isn't seamless yet.

And lastly in the UC space, the editors at NoJitter finally agree with me for a change: Integration Is the Name of the Game.
As Hosted VoIP became Hosted PBX, then Hosted UC and now UC&C, the integration to make the pieces seamlessly work together on a laptop, tablet, smartphone and desk will be crucial for the winner in this space. Some ITSPs are shifting to cloud services like VPS and even SAAS. I think that the working UC&C bundle that is as simple as the iPhone or is going to be the clear cut winner.

You need to be pushing SMS to all DIDs; softphones; headsets; why not sell tablets + softphone + bluetooth? Audio and web conferencing and screen share and IM/chat/SMS with Presence as well as hosted email, fax-to-email, vociemail-to-email, call loogs, recording, analytics, portal and Sharepoint or something like Google Docs. Sounds like a lot but your job isn't to deliver dial-tone -- that is the basic requirement to play the game -- your job is to deliver a communication platform that workers can use with some training to be productive and flexible. That is your job - technology provider - not dial-tone provider. writes that voicemail is dead. Indeed a major bank dumped a large portion of their voicemail system. Everything is dying.

Not All Deployments Are Created Equal (HPBX) by Edgewater.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

What Happened to Ikano

IKANO was a dial-up POP aggregator. Then it got into DSL, because it had to. Dial-up was shrinking.

DSL Extreme was founded by Jim Murphy. It was sold to IKANO in 2006. IKANO slowly tried other services, like becoming a Google Apps for SP partner. This year (2015), Jim Murphy bought DSL EXtreme back from IKANO under his new company, the Broadsoft based VoIP company called Broadvoice.[More detail in this release.] The broadband combined with the Hosted VoIP makes for a nice bundle for BV.

IKANO CEO George Naspo is now the CEO of VirtaCore, a cloud infrastructure company. Doug Pollei, who was running the Google Apps program, is over at VirtaCore, too.

Shaun Hoggan is at Adobe.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lots of Gigabit Going Around

In this quick round up, there were 4 recent announcements of Gigabit broadband.

C Spire is using fixed wireless* FTTH to deliver Gigabit broadband to Mississippi. The fourth city to get it is Clinton, Mississippi. According to DSLR, the rates are: "1 Gbps Internet access is available for $70 a month, $90 a month for combined Internet and home phone, $130 for Internet and super HD TV and $150 a month for the three-service package."

Correction** - I read an article on DSLR that I thought said fixed wireless, but actually said fixed wireline broadband from C Spire.

In the fixed wireless Gigabit space, Rapid Systems has turned up Gigabit in rural Hardee County Florida.

Google will be expanding in San Antonio, Texas now that it got the approval.

Quicken founder, Dan Gilbert, is bringing "gigabit broadband service to Detroit via a new startup ISP named Rocket Fiber." It will be around $70 per month.

Interesting tidbit, "One thing the company hopes gives it a leg up in Detroit is the fact that Gilbert's Rock Ventures, which is funding the gigabit deployment, also owns more than 75 properties totaling more than 12 million square feet of commercial real estate in downtown Detroit. FCC rules prohibit exclusive MDU deals, but the company hopes this cross-ownership helps speed along installs." [DSLR]

Cox Bumping $99 Ultimate Tier From 150 to 300 Mbps

ARS has a story about Verizon demanding exclusive deals from landlords before installing FiOS in NYC. It isn't just in NYC. Even in Tampa, the property management companies lock up the telco closet and prevent tenants from getting services that they want.

In other fixed wireless news, Vivint is pushing 100 Mbps Broadband for $60/month. Vivint is a smart home technology provider who is using a hybrid system of licensed and unlicensed spectrum to deliver 100Mbps. It is an interesting read on how they are doing it (here and ARS and here).

More gigabit network news here.