Jan
21

Valley Business Solutions – what being an MSP means for their Customers

I’m continuing the case study analysis of this ADTRAN customer because they’re a great example of how a channel partner can transform their business and find new ways to add value with their customers. In my last post, I reviewed why becoming an MSP is good for both Valley Business Solutions and ADTRAN, and now the focus shifts to end customers.

With ProCloud’s managed WiFi platform, VBS saw a path to the next growth area for their customers. There was little upside to continue reselling commodity products and services, especially with so many competitors doing the same thing. The real asset for them was the customer relationship – not the technology on offer – and becoming an MSP allowed them to do two things to maintain that. First was the ability to private label ProCloud as VBS Managed WiFi, thus creating a closer bond with customers. Second was the ability to customize applications for each customer, allowing them to focus on solving business problems rather than selling technology.

How does the customer benefit?

Not all ADTRAN channel partners have followed this path, and this reality is likely typical for other vendors. We are at an inflection point with today’s technology, where channels need to jump curves to stay competitive. Many are not willing or able to do that and prefer to ride things out with their customer base. VBS did not wish to pursue this sunset plan and chose to go where the growth is happening.

Just as channels are struggling to adopt new technology, so too are their customers. What VBS understands is that their customers don’t need to be leading technology adopters – instead, they get that with managed services. Once freed from that challenge, VBS can focus on the business problems of each customer and then determine how managed WiFi can address them. To illustrate, here are two examples in terms of vertical markets that VBS is serving today.

Education market

This is a promising vertical for an MSP, as many learning institutions are cash-strapped with limited IT resources. BYOD has become a major challenge as wireless devices have become the tool of choice for students. These are becoming the default endpoints not just for everyday personal communication, but for many aspects of their educational experience. They need wireless, high-speed connectivity for accessing online textbooks, sharing notes, doing research, making presentations, viewing archived lectures and even virtually attending live lectures.

VBS addresses these needs head-on by providing campus-wide connectivity to support these devices, without IT having to own/operate physical infrastructure. Given that many campuses have a sprawling footprint and the fact that students are rarely in one place long, there is great value in what VBS Managed WiFi delivers. VBS could never have done this just trying to sell a new phone system or upgrade infrastructure. This is a very different opportunity, where the school has a chance to shift from Capex to Opex and can gain cost efficiencies by reducing the need for printed textbooks and providing a better learning experience for students.

Houses of worship

VBS is based in Tennessee, and in the Bible Belt, churches represent an important vertical sector with specific needs. While you may view this as a highly traditional space, the research indicated they have wireless needs just like anybody else. One example is the fact that many church goers have a Bible on their tablet, and they use this during worship instead of a conventional printed Bible. Whether 10 or 100 people need this, the church needs to have enough wireless access on hand so those people could worship worry-free.

A more daunting example has to do with controlled access to the Internet. While churches have many good reasons to provide WiFi, they have valid reasons to keep their space free from inappropriate Web content. The public Internet is rife with such material, and this presents an important pain point for churches. Ideally, they would like all the good of the Web without the bad, and one way that VBS does this is via ProCloud’s content filtering capability. This allows the church to specify which websites to block over their WiFi signal, which can be especially helpful for their Sunday school and educational programs.

As with the education sector, this is an example of a specific “business” problem that their Managed WiFi offering was able to address. Rather than sell WiFi on the merits of the technology, VBS has brought this to the church community in terms of real world issues they are not able to solve on their own. In that context, being an MSP allows VBS to add value in ways the customer may never have thought possible.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://carrier.adtran.com/valley-business-solutions-what-being-an-msp-means-for-their-customers/

Jan
14

Complimenting challenging FTTH rollouts; G.fast reignites Ultrafast broadband in EMEA

As we hit the halfway point in this decade, it would appear that common sense is once again returning to our beloved broadband industry. There is increasing recognition that our long running romance with pure Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) strategies may fail to bear the fruits once promised. There is no question that today’s fixed line operators must innovate and invest to ensure they keep pace with the ever increasing-threats posed by the cable industry.

Once fractured and unorganized, recent cable consolidation has created giants with considerable resources. Compounding this threat is the mobile industry’s shift towards fixed operator acquisition to protect against stagnating mobile subscriber growth and ARPU erosion. Where FTTH has always been positioned as the panacea for all industry ailments, mass adoption has not taken hold, thanks mainly to barriers like cost and availability.

We tip our hats to notable exceptions consistently offered up as precedent that ubiquity can be achieved; however those who have completed even modest due diligence, recognize that unique attributes have played a significant role in the success of these FTTH rock stars. From the bottomless pockets of the UAE, to the unique scale economies achievable from the mega-MDUs of Asia, the sad truth remains that these unique attributes don’t translate to the majority of broadband markets. The cold hard fact remains that broadband providers are businesses, who in the majority of cases are accountable to investors. Those investors expect a timely return for their investment above all else.

Gone are the days where monopoly operators could make 25-year infrastructure investments, safe in the knowledge that they could maintain service pricing at the required levels to ensure satisfactory returns. With most operators being held to significantly shorter investment horizons, they must invest in solutions which keep pace with and offer protection from the subscriber poachers who bait their traps with higher headline speed offerings.

While FTTH’s eventual dominance is unquestioned, the reality is that ubiquity is unlikely in many of our lifetimes. Service providers who persist with a pure strategy risk significant subscriber erosion, not because of any technical limitations with their service offerings, but rather time-to-market delays. Recent years have revealed many examples where true FTTH has consistently taken longer to deploy and priced out higher than original models predicted.

For the service providers with existing copper assets, these fiber deployment delays may prove a blessing. Continued innovations in copper access technologies have permitted rapid deployment of ubiquitous superfast broadband services through the emergence of Vectored VDSL2 technologies. 2015 will see the latest copper innovations – capable of ultrafast speeds approaching Gigabit rates – reach commercial deployments. G.fast offers a standards-based approach that will permit service providers to eliminate many  traditional sources of delay faced by full FTTH deployments. No more landlords seeking their pound of flesh, no more missed subscriber appointments, no more planning delays. More than capable of addressing the headline speed threat posed by the cable industry, G.fast offers the predictable roll-out schedule that investors demand, coupled with a time to market proposition which will facilitate a rapid response to cable erosion.

Leveraging existing assets prevents subscriber churn to cable, while simultaneously offering continued access to wholesale Bitstream revenue streams. This also eliminates the risk of opening up an LLU optical super highway that competitors can poach on the backs of others’ FTTH investment. Copper has suffered a confidence crisis many times in its life, but with fewer than 10% of European households connected to FTTH, it will remain highly relevant for years to come.

 

Ronan Kelly is ADTRAN Chief Technology Officer for the EMEA and APAC regions

Permanent link to this article: http://carrier.adtran.com/complimenting-challenging-ftth-rollouts-g-fast-reignites-ultrafast-broadband-in-emea/

Dec
05

Frequency Division Vectoring (FDV): What it is, and Why it will Matter (Part 2 of 3)

We’ve talked before about while Fiber is the end game for service providers around the world, depending on your location or geography, it may not be the most practical solution. As a result, we’ve seen advancements in DSL technologies over the last 10 to 15 years that have pushed the voice and data service launch point much closer to the customer and significantly boosted broadband speeds.  The latest of these technologies, G.fast, will take this even further by delivering near Gigabit speeds over existing phone wiring.  Practically speaking, however, what does this really mean?  If I know FTTH access is where I need to get to, what will these technologies do to help me get there?

Getting more out of the Cabinet

Network operators have invested heavily in Fiber-to-the-Cabinet (FTTCab) construction in recent years, deploying as many as 10 – 20x cabinets for every central exchange they managed.  This not only required the capital to construct these outside plant (OSP) DSL platforms, but there was also an investment in intellectual capital as well. Processes and procedures needed to be created and defined to turn up and maintain broadband services launched from these cabinets. In the end, there has been a lot of time, money and effort put into the infrastructure that no service provider will willingly or easily walk away from.

The new G.fast standard builds off the FTTCab investment that service providers have already made, but takes a different deployment approach. Due to the very short copper access lines needed to support very high service rates, the services launch point again moves closer to the customer but this time from the cabinet to the copper wiring distribution point (dp). The deployment strategy is known as Fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp), and while it requires further investment before 500Mbps or more service rates can reach an area, the cost is still significantly less than a full blown FTTH access upgrade.

Something in between?

Frequency Division Vectoring (FDV) is a super-vectoring technology that allows incumbent telcos to once again go back to the well and squeeze more premium services supporting bandwidth out of their FTTCab deployments. Just like they have done for decades they will do what they have gotten pretty good at doing – add a new card to an existing street cabinet, send out a new low cost modem and keep customers by staving off cable and wireless service providers for another few years while they shore up their FTTH plans and budgets.

FDV can be used to double the vectored VDSL2 rate to deliver 200 – 300Mbps service rates and extend the service reach up to 40% further. It takes advantage of the shorter copper loops that are too short for VDSL2 vectoring technology to use to any meaningful effect, and are too long for G.fast technology to leverage. This is generally 200 – 400 meter copper loops. These shorter copper loops extended from more deeply deployed street cabinets are common in throughout Central Europe and makes a cabinet sitting in “no man’s land” a means to deliver premium broadband services.

Ultimately, FDV cleverly combines VDSL2 and G.fast to produce an improved performance. A performance that is near that of full spectrum G.fast, but is not handicapped by having to vacate the lower frequencies reserved for the previously deployed VDSSL2 services. This allows G.fast technology to be deployed in existing FTTCab installations rather than to-be-constructed-FTTdp-installations by removing the 80% – 90% performance tax levied by existing VDSL2 services.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the challenges in the market and the technologies that have emerged to address those challenges, in our next installment we’ll explore what this means for service providers and the business opportunities ahead.

Kurt Raaflaub, a 20-year telecom veteran, has global responsibility for directing ADTRAN’s carrier networks solutions marketing activities.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://carrier.adtran.com/frequency-division-vectoring-fdv-what-it-is-and-why-it-will-matter-part-2-of-3/

Nov
25

Delivering Premium Broadband without Paying a Premium (Part 1 of 3)

Network operators have plans to support the massive broadband speeds required to fuel current and future innovative applications for homes, businesses and mobile devices – and that plan relies heavily on connecting fiber into buildings.

Conventionally, the telecom access network has been one built upon twisted copper pairs that connect the buildings in which we live and work. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is the vision of every telecom/datacom service provider, but this is a long term goal that requires a large capital investment and significant resource planning.

The vast majority of the expense in upgrading a building or network from copper to fiber is the fiber deployment itself. Digging is labor intensive and expensive. While fiber splicing technics and micro trenching all help reduce the cost per home, geography also plays a significant role.

Europe is filled with historic, cobblestone-laden streets where pulling and trenching fiber means an extra few hundred Euros per fiber-connected home. As a result, many service providers have made the calculated decision to maximize the bandwidth of the buildings’ already-existing copper connection. This explains the relative prevalence of newer digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies being used by all the big telecom operators, especially when compared to North America.

In our next installment, we’ll take a closer look at those DSL technologies, and why they are becoming an important part of a service providers FTTH and Gigabit service delivery strategy.
 

Kurt Raaflaub, a 20-year telecom veteran, has global responsibility for directing ADTRAN’s carrier networks solutions marketing activities.

Permanent link to this article: http://carrier.adtran.com/delivering-premium-broadband-without-paying-a-premium-part-1-of-3-2/

Nov
25

Delivering Premium Broadband without Paying a Premium (Part 1 of 3)

Network operators have plans to support the massive broadband speeds required to fuel current and future innovative applications for homes, businesses and mobile devices – and that plan relies heavily on connecting fiber into buildings.

Conventionally, the telecom access network has been one built upon twisted copper pairs that connect the buildings in which we live and work. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is the vision of every telecom/datacom service provider, but this is a long term goal that requires a large capital investment and significant resource planning.

The vast majority of the expense in upgrading a building or network from copper to fiber is the fiber deployment itself. Digging is labor intensive and expensive. While fiber splicing technics and micro trenching all help reduce the cost per home, geography also plays a significant role.

Europe is filled with historic, cobblestone-laden streets where pulling and trenching fiber means an extra few hundred Euros per fiber-connected home. As a result, many service providers have made the calculated decision to maximize the bandwidth of the buildings’ already-existing copper connection. This explains the relative prevalence of newer digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies being used by all the big telecom operators, especially when compared to North America.

In our next installment, we’ll take a closer look at those DSL technologies, and why they are becoming an important part of a service providers FTTH and Gigabit service delivery strategy.
 

Kurt Raaflaub, a 20-year telecom veteran, has global responsibility for directing ADTRAN’s carrier networks solutions marketing activities.

Permanent link to this article: http://carrier.adtran.com/delivering-premium-broadband-without-paying-a-premium-part-1-of-3/

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