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Lumen’s New Way to Service Old Customers
Today, Lumen launched its new cloud-native telephony offering, Lumen Cloud Communications (LCC), with the help of a partnership with Alianza.
Like most large service providers, Lumen has a wide range of communications offerings that include voice and UCaaS solutions from Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom. These name brand services are fueling Lumen’s rapid growth, but service providers also like to have a house-branded solution. LCC provides customers and prospects a new option that is particularly well suited for its large installed base of customers.
These core services are a large part of Lumen’s business, but the services are often delivered via older technologies and infrastructure. Lumen wanted a more efficient and modern way to deliver these services, so it turned to Alianza to update and strengthen its voice services portfolio. LCC is Lumen’s primary vehicle to upgrade its existing customer base.
In the past, it was more common for service providers to purchase and host these types of services, but the benefits of cloud-delivered services apply to service providers too. Alianza will provide the services that enable LCC services as a wholesale service to Lumen.
LCC offers voice telephony, team messaging, video conferencing, and mobile applications, and it launches with four services. LCC Standard is a PBX replacement service that includes features such as unlimited local and domestic long-distance calling, visual voicemail, and paging. This service works with Poly and Grandstream phones and saucers as well other IP endpoints. LCC Advanced adds messaging and software clients with Lumen branded softphones for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. LCC Professional further adds video conferencing and screen sharing services.
The fourth service is LCC Specialty Lines, which provides a modern, cloud-alternative for POTS or analog lines. Specialty lines are commonly used for elevator phones, alarms, fax services, and remote access modems. The copper infrastructure to support these lines has become a burden to maintain for most services providers yet remains a large market.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has protected copper infrastructure for decades, but that ends later this year. The FCC now expects U.S. service providers to replace legacy infrastructure with modern services by the end of this summer.
Last year, Alianza announced its POTS replacement solution that it developed with Albion Ventures and 10T Solutions. Alianza’s Managed Specialty Lines gives service providers a managed facilities-based voice network to support critical applications designed for analog trunks.
I spoke to executives at both Lumen and Alianza to better understand LCC. Scott Velting, VP of product management at Lumen, stressed that LCC will be a highly agile service offering. Lumen will be able to expand and modify LCC services faster than any of the alternatives it considered, including existing technologies Lumen internally hosts. Velting indicated that Lumen has worked with Alizana before and appreciates its agile approach and responsiveness.
Velting also indicated that the initial LCC offering launched today is just a starting point. LCC has a significant roadmap ahead that includes new services, APIs, and potentially a marketplace (learn more about the services Alianza offers in this TalkingHeadz podcast).
LCC provides Lumen with a way to upgrade its customers with newer technology without a price penalty. The service is also more flexible and should better meet future and changing requirements. Velting expects LCC will soon service over 100,000 users.
I asked Brian Beutler, the CEO and founder of Alianza, why service providers are selecting Alianza. He believes it’s a combination of its “telco-grade” platform and the fact that Alianza doesn’t compete with its service provider customers. Alianza exclusively sells its enterprise products and services to providers. Alianza’s services are designed for service providers, and every aspect is designed for rebranding from the software clients to the billing data.
Beutler also indicated that the Alianza formula is working, Alianza is expanding the number of service providers it has on its customer list, and the service providers are getting larger. Lumen is the third largest service provider in the U.S. in terms of revenue. It likely also helped that Alizana expanded its portfolio with the recent acquisitions of CounterPath and Message Hopper.
LCC sits at the intersection of three trends occurring in enterprise communications. The first and obvious one is the shift to cloud-delivered services — this applies to enterprises and service providers as well. The second trend is that more service providers are insisting on house-branded services as a competitive differentiator, as providers increasingly offer identical OTT applications. The third trend is to transform its legacy services into modern, agile services. This doesn’t mean the end of life of POTS, but a more efficient way of delivering. When done correctly, new, modern solutions do support older systems.
I for one am pleased to know that Lumen will still be able to power all my rotary phone collectibles.
Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.