New Services Set for Rural Carrier Rescue
There has always been a segment of the telecom equipment vendor industry focused on smaller telcos, seeing rural carriers as the sole target of their efforts or as a stepping stone to bigger contracts with bigger carriers. One benefit of serving the independent segment of the market for those vendors has been the fact that these companies are often first-movers, adopting new services such as IPTV and VoIP well ahead of their larger brethren.
With smaller telcos facing critical challenges such as loss of access lines, shrinking rural business communities and regulatory upheaval that threatens their funding, that innovation has become directly focused on rural telco survival.
Hosts with the most
Vendors are beginning to enable rural telcos by offering functionality as a service, not a piece of hardware or software. The idea is to make it easier for rural telcos to either manage and monitor their networks or add new services, without large capital expense or major hiring of technical expertise.
Optical gear maker Cyan Optics Inc. and access equipment vendor Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) are two companies that have announced efforts this year to host capabilities within their operations and deliver them to their rural telco customers on a service basis. (See Cyan Wants to Help Bridge the Chasm and Calix Jumps Into SaaS.)
In Cyan's case, the service being provided enables rural telcos to operate their networks and provide customer support with fewer people. Calix is trying to help smaller telcos generate new revenues by offering their own support services to consumers.
Assia Inc. , founded by John Cioffi, has sold its Dynamic Spectrum Management technology to larger carriers such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) to enable them to test, manage and optimize their DSL networks for delivery of high-end services such as IPTV. When ASSIA decided to take its service to independent rural telcos, it shifted to a software-as-a-service model as well. (See Assia Intros SaaS DSM and ASSIA Gets Behind DSL Management .)
"They pay us per sub, per line, per month," says Steve Timmerman, SVP of marketing for ASSIA. "We look at all lines once a day, which enables us to see how it performs over time, because the network is dynamic."
ASSIA's goal is to give a rural telco an accurate picture of exactly how much bandwidth can be delivered on the copper network, and to identify problems so they can be solved before leading to customer problems or churn.
Five independent telcos have thus far bought the ASSIA solution, including Hill Country Telephone Cooperative , which used the system to determine whether it was feasible to roll out IPTV over its copper network.
"They can also use the data to upsell customers, because they now know how much data they can support on each individual line," Timmerman says.
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