Peter Radizeski is Founder and President of RAD-INFO INC. He is an accomplished blogalyst, speaker, author and consultant. He has helped many service providers with sales training, marketing, channel development and business strategy. He is a trusted source of knowledge about the telecom sector. His honest and direct approach make him a refreshing speaker.

Look for his innovative ideas and analysis of current technology on his blogs.

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How Broken is Telecom? (This is a Rant)

It started as just 1 problem, but I ended up writing about 3 messes.

I try really hard to avoid cablecos. They don’t like the Channel; they don’t like wholesale. It seems that direct sales reps can get pricing much faster.

Unfortunately, cable is chasing market share by practically giving away services. So with that in mind I had to get a quote for a EPL between Nashville and Tampa. This would involve Comcast and Charter. Let’s examine the timeline:

Request for quote enters the system on 3/15.
On 3/21 Survey shows FL location serviceable with construction. Sent email for pricing.
On 3/28 after buffing them, I get “budgetary” pricing.
On 4/3 client asks for contract.
On 4/26 I am still waiting for paperwork and the “formal” pricing.

How does a company who “As of December 31, 2016, Charter’s network passed 49.2 million homes and businesses, and served 26.2 million residential and small and medium business (“SMB”) customers” take so long to price and run contracts?

I know it would be an effort but there’s this thing called Google Earth that you can use to map your network, so every site survey doesn’t take days. MasterStream has a pretty good interface for quoting. There are tools in this cloud age to take some fo the friction out of the process – if anyone actually wanted to.

This raises some questions:

  • What will install be like if I can’t get a quote in 2 weeks?
  • Will the NNI with Comcast be congested? Will anyone remember to order it?
  • What happens with a UCaaS order, especially post-ink?

I can’t even fathom what a Desktop as a Service process must be like now that Navisite is under the Spectrum umbrella.

I know this looks like a bully pulpit kind of blog, but I can’t be the only one who finds this ridiculous.

It gets better. One of the Tier 1 ISPs agrees to sell my customer a 1GB pipe that goes to Atlanta from Jackson, Mississippi. Route diversity was needed for my client, an ISP and VoIP Provider. Turn up took 111 days on a lit path. The Tier 1 ISP used Uniti Fiber for the loop. It was a mess.

The CFA (facilities assignment inside the central office where my client is collocated) was ignored, which created the first of a number of problems. TTU (test and turn up) was basically, “We plugged it in!” Repair had to be engaged to get it to work. (A new NID had to be installed.)

BGP took an extra week to get working properly. It only all started working properly yesterday. It was ordered on 12/19/16.

And the client says it routes to Dallas, not to Atlanta. Fantastic.

I turned up another circuit with an ILEC. It was a 20 MB DIA, but I guess 20×20 had to be specified, because it came up at 18×6. I don’t even know how you make these kind of mistakes. This was noticed on the day after turn up, but we had to go through repair to get it fixed after the turn up engineer ignored all emails for 3 days.

What the hell is wrong with telecom that they can’t just do the job they are hired to do? Every day we hear about airlines having big issues, but telecom firms have even more problems. I think it is just that we EXPECT them in telecom.

All I keep thinking is: If they can’t deploy Internet pipes correctly in a timely manner, who would want to try using them for something complex like IAAS or security or UC?

And let’s let them do more M&A! Everyone of the carriers listed has been involved in M&A in the last year. All of them suffer from the integration — or choose to blame it.

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    Apex Technology Services
    Sponsored by Apex Technology Services, a leading IT Services company

    The State of the Master Agency with COLOTRAQ’s CEO

    COLOTRAQ CEO and Founder Dany Bouchedid joins me to discuss the state of master agents in the current telecom environment. One thing we discuss is the commission crush that is making it difficult for master agencies. Have a listen!

    If you cannot see the flash mp3 player, you can listen on SoundCloud HERE or download the mp3 HERE.

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    Apex Technology Services
    Sponsored by Apex Technology Services, a leading IT Services company

    What Makes Amazon Tick

    CB Insights did a break down of Amazon. It’s interesting that it looks like: “Amazon is doubling down on AWS and its AI assistant, Alexa. It’s seeking to become the central provider for AI-as-a-service.”

    “AWS is the biggest area Amazon is scaling up with more than 5600 jobs, which translates to about 33% of all the open listings.” Hey, kids, here’s where future jobs lie!

    Retail isn’t the future for Amazon growth I guess, despite Prime’s customer stickiness; it’s building of warehouses; and its foray into brick-and-mortar stores.

    For us, “The company is also making more diversified investments into logistics, cloud apps, and media: Amazon’s recent forays into logistics and media foreshadow areas of new business interest. Amazon tends to invest mainly where it can make strategic partnerships. India-based Housejoy will help expand its reach in the region, and Twilio has partnerships with AWS.” [source]

    Amazon has a secretive R&D skunk work called Lab126, which is behind hardware hits like the Echo and Kindle (and Fire smartphone). Dabble Lab and Occam are independent skunk works that companies can hire. This type of innovative and creative thinking is needed especially in telecom.

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to shareholders that talks about Day 2 like it was death. Yet the letter gives a small insight into Bezos’ decision making. Focus on results and don’t let the process (or policy) become the thing to focus on. Make decisions quickly. Even if you disagree with a decision, commit to the project. Every day is Day 1. Think fresh. Look outside the company for ideas, concepts, practices and trends. Embrace them.

    You can read the letter on Recode. And you should.

    NYU Professor Scott Galloway breaks down how Amazon is dismantling retail. Although he notes it isn’t just Amazon. We have too many malls. There is a trend in consumer spending on restaurants and experiences rather than things.

    Why should telecom care about retail or even Amazon?

    Amazon is going to be a big player in telecom outside of AWS and S3, with Chime and Connect and tools and whatever it cooks up with twilio.

    The other reason to examine retail: see the demise so that it doesn’t happen to your business.

    Bezos and Elon Musk – in my book – are the two best CEOs in America right now. Learning more about how they make decisions can be helpful.

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    Where’s the Margin? (Part 1)

    As much as I grumble often about the VoIP/UC providers and their lack of differentiation, SD-WAN is going to be just as bad. It is almost a commodity out of the gate.

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    Since most product markets are flat (think broadband, cellular, voice, TV), the race is on to take customers away. Without a better mouse trap, it is all about price.

    In an industry (ours), where technology is painted as the product and we mainly sell replacement products (SIP Trunks for POTS and PRI, Ethernet for T1, 4G for DSL), the price compression happens quickly. This means less commission and less income for the partners (agents).

    Despite this dilemma and the revenue decline it has caused carriers that has resulted in industry consolidation, carriers have not done enough Product Market/Fit testing. Once again they go wide instead of deep. (At least EarthLink went deep into Retail.)

    Money is only left in verticals and specialization. HIPAA and other compliance allow for a discussion about business needs, not cost savings. Talking about business needs, outcomes, and pain points are how you move away from the RFP process.

    Selling into verticals means that you can speak their language; bring best practices (or at least anecdotes); and word of mouth is louder in a silo.

    This is just part one of several to come on how partners can make more margin.

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    Apex Technology Services
    Sponsored by Apex Technology Services, a leading IT Services company

    Will Broadview Help Windstream?

    In this CRN interview** with Austin Herrington, senior director of product management at Windstream, the strategy is laid out.

    Was it just October that Windstream let its small business customers go? At that time didn’t they tell the partner community that they only wanted deals $1250 and above? Didn’t they cut commissions on Paetec customers?

    This is a company that owns Allworx but pushes Mitel and Avaya on alternating months. They run both Metaswitch (and took on more seats on Meta with EarthLink) and a Broadsoft. So now they buy a 6th platform: Broadview’s proprietary one. (I hope they kept the chief developer or someone will be searching through code for notes for months.).

    Do you know how expensive it is to run 6 platforms? Or even 4? Ask Vonage how much that costs (they run 4).

    WIND wants to compete head to head with RC, 8×8 and Vonage in the OTT market. Interesting because data demonstrates that the average OTT deal is $400, well, below the $1250 floor. Even Broadview admits to an ARPU of almost $1000.

    I will get emails and calls that I am negative. Chris will ask why I can’t write something nice. I’m not being mean. I am observing a schizoid strategy. Partners cannot turn their business model quarter to quarter to suit the whims of a vendor. It doesn’t work that way.

    A $5.4 Billion annual revenue up against $5B in debt. No more equity in CS&L, the REIT they spun off which renamed as UNITI Fiber. “Operating income was $515 million. The company reported a net loss of $384 million.” This is a company that pays out healthy dividends to keep its stock afloat. It has debt payments as well, while acquiring EarthLink and Broadview (and before that data centers it then sold off.)

    I hope they can at least take a note from EarthLink: Point yourself at a vertical or two and get good at it. EarthLink had captured the retail vertical with a focus and product fit unseen in the CLEC world. Windstream needs to do more of THAT.

    Keep the ELNK Retail division rolling along. Leverage the Broadsoft Hospitality product to find a way to take Hospitality back from the cablecos. The REIT (CS&L) is on a tear buying up fiber and chasing E-Rate. That is a sound strategy.

    I wonder if, like CenturyLink, being borne from a RLEC just makes sound strategy tough. So many fat years with USF monies pouring in and no competition that when the spigot went dry, competing just isn’t in the DNA. Hint: hire Dabble Lab. Get Creative. Try stuff. Take real input.

    SD-WAN is not the panacea that everyone is hoping for. If SDN is implemented the way LNP and TTU is now, oh boy! A few agents were on FB discussing ZTP (zero touch provisioning) as the end all. I remember Microsoft Plug and Play. It took years to get right. It will all depend on the CPE and the SDN implementation. And I am not counting on it. [And that is just CPE ZTP, not the handsets and UCaaS or Office365 or other software deployment. Just the WAN and CPE.]

    Broadview has 20K customers, of which 7300 are cloud users. That isn’t scale. That is less than one-third the of customers 8×8 has. Vonage has 650K seats; Broadview has 182K active users. Scale costs money. Scale requires talent. Scale demands process and procedure. We’ll see. They didn’t even finish the EarthLink integration so this should be fun.

    **CRN – click through 10 slides just to read a half page story on this site! What a mess!

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