SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Melissa Swartz
Melissa guides enterprise business clients through the complex process of finding the right communications solutions for their business, and getting...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Melissa Swartz | July 23, 2014 |

 
   

Navigating Upcoming Changes in the Telco Environment

Navigating Upcoming Changes in the Telco Environment Those responsible for their organization's communication technology must recognize that changes are coming and navigate to safer alternatives.

Those responsible for their organization's communication technology must recognize that changes are coming and navigate to safer alternatives.

It's easy to complain about the phone companies. And it's ironic that, as "communications" companies, it's so darn hard to communicate with them.

In all fairness, they are struggling to address changes in technology and in behavior while still meeting their obligations to make a profit for their shareholders. Networks are migrating away from copper to fiber, from wired to wireless, and from circuit switching to packet (IP) switching. ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) are caught between requirements to support legacy networks and the need to invest in new technology.

While AT&T and Verizon are seeking FCC regulatory changes that will speed the transition to IP networks, they are not leaving it up to the regulators. Price hikes on TDM services have been significant and widespread; in other areas copper lines are no longer offered. These changes will motivate customers to transition much faster than regulatory activity.

Customers are migrating away from the older networks in droves. According to The Wall Street Journal, "nearly 40% of U.S. households now have no landline phone." Yet the cost to maintain these legacy networks does not decrease, resulting in a huge increase in the cost per user to support legacy services. No wonder the carriers don't want to invest in that infrastructure.

In working with our clients across the U.S., we see many instances where copper infrastructure has been allowed to degrade and is taking longer to repair. For all but the largest accounts, customer service from the carriers is remote, centralized, impersonal, and greatly dissatisfying. Billing is inaccurate and very difficult to correct. Ordering and installing services is much harder than it should be. And there is little hope that any of this will improve.

While many are concerned about the transition away from analog services and the impact this will have on rural and elderly users, others worry about how this change will impact 911 service, burglar alarms, pacemakers and even systems used by air-traffic controllers. The FCC says it will make sure that "consumers and the enduring values established by Congress are not adversely affected."

Others are concerned about the move to IP networks from a regulatory perspective. According to The Wall Street Journal, "In the early 2000s, the FCC decided to regulate broadband Internet service with a lighter touch. The agency also freed companies from rules requiring them to sell space on their Internet protocol-based, fiber-optic networks to other companies at regulated rates...Smaller phone and Internet service providers say it isn't fair for AT&T and Verizon to escape oversight by shifting to a different type of network. Those rivals depend on access to the giant carriers' networks--and fear it could be threatened as chunks of the traditional phone network are shut down."

Businesses Can Take Steps
It will take a while for all of these issues to be resolved. In the meantime, what can businesses (and consumers) do to mitigate the impact of these changes to themselves?

1. Recognize that the carriers are investing in fiber, IP, and wireless technologies. If you have the choice, these are the types of services you should be using or moving toward. Look seriously at SIP trunking and wireless options when fiber is not available.

2. Negotiate for defined levels of customer service support when you are getting new services, and make sure that anything you are promised is part of your contract.

3. Understand that IP-based services are not regulated in the same way that TDM services have been. While service provider contracts still often refer to a Service Guide that resides somewhere on the Internet (thus appearing to be similar to regulated TDM offerings), there is much less regulation in the IP environment. This means that you have much greater ability to negotiate terms and conditions and pricing in your agreements. You also have much less protection than that provided by state and federal regulators for TDM services.

4. Pay attention to the Service Level Agreements for IP-based services. The typical language initially offered by a carrier has, in my experience, little to no meaningful recourse for the customer who does not negotiate.

These existing networks have played a critical role in the telecommunications industry. As their future becomes uncertain, those responsible for their organization's communication technology must recognize that changes are coming and navigate to safer alternatives. There is still time, but the pace of the changes is picking up and pricing or availability strategies may drive behavior long before the regulators approve new models.

The Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.