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Cable Business Services

Spectrum Enterprise EVP Asks Industry to Fill Fiber & Feedback Gaps

AUSTIN -- Big Communications Event -- Highlighting two critical gaps that the telecom industry needs to fill, Spectrum Enterprise EVP Phil Meeks called on other communications service providers (CSPs) to connect more buildings with fiber and improve the way they respond to customers.

Meeks honed in on how and why businesses need more bandwidth. Using the healthcare industry as an example, he said demand for faster connections by small and midsized firms is especially high.

"Less than half of the buildings with 20 to 50 employees have access to fiber," the Spectrum Enterprise executive said, contrasting that to the relatively fiber-rich commercial buildings with at least 200 workers. "That means the majority of small doctors' offices won't have the bandwidth they need. This industry-access gap translates into significant challenges for the changing landscapes for all businesses. How can an ecosystem grow without significant access to bandwidth? They can't."

While he used the healthcare industry as his prime example, Meeks said this situation applies to almost every industry today. That list includes retail, banking, insurance and more.

"Industries are evolving and ecosystems are expanding; companies of all sizes are becoming more interdependent," he commented. "Digital infrastructure has opened the doors, and there is no turning back."

Meeks said Spectrum Enterprise is responding to the challenge by investing heavily in fiber extensions to connect more of its commercial customers with have high-bandwidth needs, regardless of the size of building or office where they operate. A $2.5 billion unit of Charter Communications Inc. Spectrum Enterprise announced earlier this week that it would spend $1 billion taking fiber deeper into its network this year, after spending a similar amount last year.

"Regardless of size, they all need connectivity," Meeks said, noting that the demand for fiber among smaller businesses has grown faster than anticipated. "We need to close the industry access gap."

In his speech, Meeks also challenged the telecom industry to do a much better job of delivering a good experience to customers. He said this means going well beyond upgrading technology and cutting customer complaints to call centers to listening to customer feedback on multiple channels, including online, texting, Twitter, etc. It also means adopting a closed-loop approach to changing processes and procedures in direct response to customer feedback, especially negative feedback.

"Product innovation is only half the solution," he said. "The operating metrics you're focused on may no longer be relevant to your customers."

Meeks noted that the telecom industry has generally not done a great job of responding well to customer complaints or finding new ways to get good feedback. "As things go wrong, we haven't exactly been the poster child for improvement," he said. "We all want our clients to experience less pain."

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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