Thursday, July 31, 2014

477 Filing With the FCC

The FCC will be holding a webinar to explain the new filing interface on August 6th at 2:30 est. Check out Today should be the first day that the new system is fully available for viewing and filing. Because of the changes (and their delay in making the system actually available), the FCC has extended the next filing date to October 1st.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What's Going On?

Quite a few things going on.

FCC's Open Internet NRPM comments ended on July 18th. I hope you added your 2 cents. If you want to follow this NRPM or other FCC, E-Rate and similar issues, I suggest subscribing to NECA here.

Birch completed the Cbeyond buy. Many VP's and higher left.

DISH is selling fixed wireless broadband with nTelos for $30 in VA (see here).

Starbucks switched from ATT to Google for wi-fi and the speeds have increased more than 8x. Level3 is the CLEC behind the Google wi-fi for Starbucks stores. Dimension Data is the VAR for Level3 installing the WLAN gear.

Softbank was making an end run for T-Mobile by bidding on the parent of the parent - Deutsche Telekom AG!

Lots of changes in the USF programs. If you take part in E-Rate, Libraries, Rural Healthcare or CAF, you should take a look.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Landline Revenue Idea #33

Besides being awesome for Ethernet over Copper, Integrated T1's, ADSL2+, VDSL and such, the copper is still being used for landlines - and IOCs are finding ways to layer on value to give customers reasons to keep the landlines. There have been reminder services, wake-up calls, and other Hosted VoIP type services layered on the landline. [ITS in Florida was a good example.] It isn't like you couldn't sell a landline plus Find-me-Follow-me, voicemail-to-email and such. You could. I just don't see anyone doing it yet.

Frontier started as a pain-in-the-ass rural IOC. It bought Verizon's rural assets and now it is buying SNET in CT from AT&T for $2B. Frontier is adding texting to landlines from a company called Zipwhip.

Interesting Articles to Read

This is a great read: 5 Psychological Studies on Pricing That You Absolutely MUST Read

The average SMB is drowning in Apps. This article looks at the small business world, apps, the IT support problem and includes an infographic. BTW, this is an Opportunity!

A corollary to the app problem is the BYOD problem and mobile security. MDM or mobile device management is a great add-on sale.

Leads only last an hour!!! "Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer." [HBR]

When hiring salespeople or call center people, Are you using outbound people for outbound; and inbound for inbound?

The Top 7 Communication Trends of 2014 (Mid-Year Scorecard)

How to craft a sales pitch

An add-on:

How to Scale by @gapingvoid. See here. To scale, you have to let your employees solve problems for you (by themselves). Here is an HBR article about doing that.

4 Traits to Look for in Customer Service Reps

Just an example of the numerous emails I get from PR firms. At least this one had useful info.

Successful customer service calls depend on the agent, and good agents are hard to find. Pam Plyler, Contact Center Practice Lead of The Northridge Group, a management consulting firm, recommends looking for the following skills when hiring a customer service agent:

  • Technical skills – The more familiarity an agent has with the products and technology, the more they can help frustrated customers.
  • Ability to multi-task – Customers want agents who can listen to their problem and quickly solve them. This requires the ability to simultaneously hold a conversation and look up information.
  • Ability to handle difficult situations – It’s critical to know that customer service agents can adapt and successfully turn around a difficult situation on their own.
  • Problem-solving skills – Great customer service agents are able to see the root cause of an issue and solve it on their own.

You can read the whole article about Creating an Excellent Customer Experience Requires Great Talent.

Train your CSR (customer service reps) to upsell and cross-sell to your customers. Add revenue to your bottom line by selling deeper into each customer. Increase that ARPU! Webinar for CSR Selling Tips coming soon! Click here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


There was a session about CLEC versus ITSP (VoIP provider) at FISPA Live in Atlanta. Over the years, quite a few ISPs became ITSPs. Some of them then went on to get their CLEC license. What should you do?

8x8 is not a CLEC. RingCentral is a CLEC (at least in TX under the name RCLEC.) So there isn't really a hard and fast rule.

When deciding to get your CLEC license, there should be a business plan wrapped around it. Why do you want it?

Without a doubt, the number one reason is control. No more depending upon Level3 or other CLEC for LPN (porting numbers) and DIDs (phone numbers). As a CLEC, you can set up your infrastructure to get your own numbers from NANPA and can perform your own LNP. It's a hassle, but it is doable.

The other big reason many FISPA members are getting a CLEC license is ROW (right of way). They use ROW to put in their own fiber either buried or aerial. Building out your own fiber fits in to my Layer 1 or Layer 7 rule.

Other reasons include access to UNE in order to offer EoC, VDSL, ADSL2+ on your own gear. But then you are moving from OTT VoIP provider to network operator and VoIP provider. Other skills are required; you are relying on the ILEC for plant and repair; and you are dealing with ILEC billing.

The key is to determine why you would want the CLEC license. What does your business plan need for success?

Monday, July 07, 2014

You Need to Respond to the PBX Squeeze

Nice post by Rich from TMC/ITEXPO today about how the premise PBX - the main revenue of MITEL, Shoretel, Avaya, Toshiba, Zultys and several others - is being squeezed by at least 4 factors - open source, Microsoft, Cisco and cloud. Rich sees more of the Enterprise market than I do.

I can tell you that Enterprise is adopting and talking about Lync. I mean they get it included in Office365. I would never use it as a PBX replacement but then I'm not a CIO at a Fortune 5000 or Private 5000 or Global 5000 company. Yet each roll out is 10K plus seats - most cloud PBX providers would kill for an average of half that!

You will need to have a story about Why Your PBX solution instead of Microsoft, instead of Cisco, instead of Lync. (3 stories, go!)

And you will need to be able to explain why not just use FreePBX or Asterisk…. For those of you using Asterisk of FreePBX under the hood, that will be a tough one.

For some of you, this will be a challenging exercise, but that is good. It will make you think. It will make you examine your own offering. It will help you flesh out your message to your marketplace. Take the time - set an appointment with some of your staff - to do this exercise. (No appointment, not likely to get done.)

And if it too hard to craft the message, talk to some customers. If it is still hard, add something to the offering to make it stand out.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Data Centers Popping Up All Over

I remember when there were just 4 data centers in Tampa - Morgan St., the beer can building (400 N Ashley), Qwest's Cyber Center and 655 N. Franklin Street (old Switch and Data facility and Hostway POP). Now, there are a number of them including 3 Peak 10 facilities in Tampa, DMS in Lakeland, Colo5 in Winter Haven and a couple of others before you get to Atlantic.Net's colo in East Orlando (almost Altamonte Springs).

And that's just Tampa. QTS just opened one in Richmond (to go with Wichita, Overland Park, Topeka, Miami, Suwanee, Santa Clara, Sacramento, jersey City - you get the idea.) Ascent is building a new data center in St. Louis.

Data Foundry opened one in Houston and one in Austin Texas.

All of the big carriers have bought data centers. Windstream bought Hosted Solutions in 2010. TW Cable bought Navisite. Cbeyond bought MaximumASP. Verizon acquired Terremark (aka NAP);
CenturyLink grabbed Savvis (and may be Rackspace soon). CincinnatiBell has Cyrus One. TDS (which is a smaller WIND) has made many small acquisitions including HMS, VISI and Bend Broadband. Data Center space is booming. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon have all built big data centers throughout the US. The NSA built a massive data center in Utah.

Coresite, Fibermedia, Latisys, Peer1, QTS, Telx, ViaWest are just a few of the big names. If you need colocation, data center, IAAS, PAAS, or VPS, call our office (813) 963-5884. We have helped many service providers and enterprises with their data center projects.

Cablevision Goes HD

Doug is all excited because a cable company has finally rolled out HD Voice. Doug has been waiting for HD Voice for a long time. Finally, Cablevision's Optimum service will be launching consumer HD Voice.

Doug hates when I say this but HD Voice is a lot like Fax over IP. It only works within a network operator's network. Those inter-connection points are where all things go to die - fax, codecs, HD, video, etc. (I have even seen where G.711 and G.729 exchanges don't work.)

A long time ago, during the Arbinet and Voice Peering Fabric days, all carriers should have joined exchanges to allow for better FoIP and HDV (and video), but those were still the heady days of inter-carrier compensation (that kept quite a few CLEcs afloat). It would be different today, since there isn't any ICC.

HD Voice is one way to distinguish your service - and during a Demo HD is a lot better than cell phone quality.

The other Cablevision division, Lightpath, added video conferencing to its managed services portfolio.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Consultants Explained

Hugh MacLeod's cartoon today was about Consultants. There are many types of Consultants. I am not the kind looking to convert a project into a W-2 (employee).

"The most common killer of change management projects is lack of follow-through. Consultants come in, they write up a bunch of nice looking reports...and then they leave. Nothing against them, but that's just how the gig goes," Hugh writes. I don't usually hand in a report. I usually take a project where I get to execute the report, usually with the asisstance of employees of my client company. That in itself is usually tricky because employees mistrust consultants. And consultants usually don't have the authority to do much. Conjole, negotiate, explain, demonstrate, befriend employees to join up and affect change, but no real authority. It's a problem (that I am actually face today). Employees who won't meet with me; employees who want to complain but not take any responsibility or make any hard decisions. You can't affect change that way.

"Change fails when companies treat it like an emergency room visit. Run the sirens a bit, stop the bleed, send everyone home." Change is about the Urgent, the loudest, the right now. Change happens when you focus on the Important, the Goal, and yes, even on the Outcome.

If you spend all day putting out fires, you don't actually get to catch the firebug who is starting the fires, right?

It isn't about the symptoms, but the underlying disease.

At the end of the day, I want a win-win. I want happy clients, growing their business. Happy clients make the best referrals.