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Five Ronin30 Jul

Five vendors directly impacting service providers:

Aereo TV – Beyond the technology, equaled by the likes of Roku, it has an architecture designed specifically around the content program restrictions.  OTT started the cracks but still lacks the powerful content.  By separating the access (user to antenna) from the content (antenna to Broadcaster) they have reclaimed the value added (or not) by each.  Aereo need only survive long enough to sway momentum out of the resale of video program aggregation towards selling end user access to 3rd party content for the entire MVPD and legacy Broadcasters business models to crumble.  Though stock value and functional productization may still accrue best in Roku, Apple TV or the likes, Aereo is a catalyst for an economic inevitability.

Google TV – Sure, we are all voyeurs to Google fiber. What couldn’t we do with 1 G Ethernet to the home and flexibility to Fiberhood (our franchisees called it Cherry Picking).  More telling is the notable absence of ESPN or other premium sports from Google TV.  Them’s gold to overbuilders, must have.  Grande (and Knology) grabbed NFL, then BEVO TV well ahead of Time Warner just to have some edge.  What’s up with Google TV then?  One place.  Can you say ESPN 360?  Its had years to build, plan, develop.  It’s the darling of every CDN out there.  Mark it down, how Google delivers live sports programming will shape the future of every MVPD.

Huawei – More for what they are not than what they are.  Creative destruction has wiped out nearly all legacy vendors specifically because they would not adapt themselves to the changing business models.  There way was simply the best, how dare these upstarts foist that lousy Ethernet on us?  Huawei is free of those shackles and has the capital to impact.  What’s more, their comfort with FTTH and data first wireless networks comes at an opportune moment for the US.  We’ll see if they live longer than Alcatel or Nortel, or add as much value to the industry at large as Bell Labs, Cisco, or the likes (sorry if I missed your company here, there have been many fallen heroes). Yes, protect national security, but Jingoism has no place here; this is our capital returning to increase our standard of living and national wealth.  The BORG has a champion; Huawei.

Lemko – A sleeper, but its going to bite the wireless and LEC worlds every bit as much as the iPhone did.  In a nutshell they place the intelligence of a cell network at the edge eliminating the need to dedicate backhaul to a MTSO.  On the surface, this may seem simple and nondescript.  In practice this separates the cell phone and mobile access into an application over the Internet, much like VoIP or IPTV.  It also serves the dual benefit of reducing the cost of bandwidth delivered to a base station or cell site and provides for the ease of more providers with less stringent SLAs.  This is a wammie to LECs who have long dominated the exclusive backhaul access, to the purveyors of complex edge and transport equipment (Why do we need Carrier Ethernet again, I Still Don’t kNow redux….), and to the mobile wireless provider market.  One can imagine a world of new business models, nomadic microcells, BYOB wireless, etc… and, bye and bye, there is about to be some very nice, very dormant spectrum available called ABC, CBS and NBC….

Apple – Samsung (obo: Google) – This patent battle has import for how dominate the Consumer Electronic vendors will become, how quickly and to what disruption.  Not only are the days of service provider CPE vanishing, so too is our back end control of the product.  Within these claims and how the Posner rulings are held will have waves across many industries.  Posner upheld (me thinks good) and hold onto your strand, conduit and spectrum, it’ll be all that survives.

Fact is, we service providers don’t live in a vacuum.  Like it or not, our world is changing.  Are you positioned to ride the wave?  Or will you be the flotsam?  Drop me an email if you’d like to discuss.  As for me, the course is becoming clearer, and the call more clarion.

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Buckets, BORG and Leadership15 Jun

Howdy again from south Texas, though not for long.  Following through on my thoughts from May, I’ve left full time employ with Valley Telephone in Raymondville to try my fortunes again with freelancing and concerted effort to kicking off Lone Star Broadband.  Let me open that my time with the fine people at Valley has been very rewarding and fulfilling.  They’re a strong company and testament to the brand power of local presence and situational awareness.  I wish them all the best and may yet have opportunities to contribute to their future.  Setting aside particulars, my thoughts for today’s post extend again to the mission of RR Online towards creation of a new type of service provider, that of Broadband Access first, service applications second, which in turn lead back to Oaken Buckets, the BORG and Leadership.

On Oaken Buckets

To paraphrase (with some liberties) a third hand account from a mentor who crafts radio advertisements: The story’s told by a seasoned sales person to a young and eager rookie of a prosperous company built upon the fine quality of their buckets made of oak.  They were of excellent craftsmanship and durability, made from the stoutest oak timber, and eventually became a staple in every water well east of the Mississippi.  They were featured in Sears and Roebuck catalogs and dominated the market.  Eventually inexpensive steel buckets began to appear and displace new sales.  The company fought back with adds on the quality of wood, the fine craftsmanship, years of market dominance.  Then came hand pumps and copper piping, further reducing the size of their market.  The company fought back with stressing the home town values of hauling water, virtues of pulling it from the well, seeing the cleanliness before the water entered your precious home.  By the time electric pumps and municipal water systems became prominent the company no longer had money for advertising and quickly vanished.  Never lose sight of that which you sell and the particular value it brings to your customer closed the elder sales person.

One can imagine the poor sales person, asking his director of manufacturing to add steel buckets to his product set.  Or the sales engineer (go with me here, its fiction) describing hand pumps and copper pipe installation services to his vice president of operations.  Investing in a municipal water system would have been pure heresy to the chief financial officer.

When we call ourselves LEC, MWO, IXC, MSO, WISP, what is it that we are selling?  What particular value do we bring our customers?

On the IP-Ethernet BORG

Service Providers will be assimilated and repurposed.  Period, stop.

On Leadership

It matters.  It has tangible causation.  Subtle and direct manifestations have equal import.  It is not about you.  Although roles interchange, Chiefs still require Indians.  Gives rise to and is measured by action.  Ultimately determines your companies’ fate.

And this all matters again why?

RR Online is about action.  What tangible actions can your company take to survive the BORG?  Are you driven by interconnecting users to content or the fineness of your oak’s grain?  Drop me an email and let’s explore.   comments@robertrussellonline.com

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Howdy19 May

Well, finally past the long dry drought, seeing spots of rain and a spring of renewal!

Been focused heavily on getting a new business model, the Broadband Access Service Provider, implanted in an RLEC in south Texas; very rewarding, albeit slower than hoped. Instilling CLEC vigor takes time and patience which is not my strongest suit. Biggest lesson re-learned: Leadership matters.

Blessing, this has enabled a forum to test and hone my approach to building a service provider around being IP-Ethernet local access network first, with everything else just an Ap. Also, how to split Internet Access into a local and long distant component – important for operational and regulatory positioning. Once again, truth is in the revenue. Truly unbelievable what can be achieved and traps avoided.

To this end, my renewal is to focus exclusively on the creation of this business model and those providers seeking to transform themselves. The IP-Ethernet BORG is repurposing Telco’s, CATV MSO’s, Mobile Wireless and even CLEC’s networks into data first networks irrespective of the “service” provided over the top. We must adapt our product offerings and business practices towards this reality or find ourselves usurped without recourse. On the other side, this presents a vibrant opportunity for facility based CLECs, to which end, I am renaming Bedford Telecom to Lone Star Broadband and structuring the business plan around this model.

RR Online will be adjusted to reflect this focus and look for www.lonestarbroadband.com and .net to follow soon.

Registration is filed, corporate papers being worked and actively seeking funding ($2M). Website will follow soon. Legal aid is setting up dividend based stocks structure for first $10M investment. Have three target markets identified and potential investors. Probably take awhile to line everything up, but sure beats watching TV nights….

Been a long hot summer, not a drop of rain… (Robert Earl Keen). Time once again for the blue bonnets to bloom. Cheers!

Robert

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Business Sales vs Business Development12 Apr

To borrow from a valued tome….Business Sales are an Art, Business Development a Science.

Sales are the relationship builders, advocates of impressions and purveyors of images and desires. Developments are the application of solutions to needs, advocates of adaptation towards specific ends and objectives. Both are quite naturally pertinent to the success of any Enterprise, but they both have unique times and places where their efforts most benefit.

Advancement of Sales requires consistency. The “One Off” solution, the frequent exception; each may win a particular sale, but they distract from the flow of opportunities and muddle the product’s description effecting delivery, understanding and implementation. While a customized, hand built automobile may garner premium value per unit, the Enterprise suffers in want of units produced. Greater consistency begets greater production, which in turn, begets greater consumption. Premium products, be they autos or telecom, are not limited by their value or desire by the market, they are strangled by inconsistency.

Advancement of Developments requires inconsistency (a.k.a. Change). If you are applying the same product with the same techniques across a similar market, what then are you developing? What questions are you testing? Variations in feature packaging for a particular make of say a Sedan, are designed to drive sales; it is still a Sedan. While testing and production of a jeep (results of research) into an SUV is development. Development is not cost reduction, not Technology Evaluation, nor Research. Business Development is the application of product hypothesis across the trials of market demand in order to define the theory behind a product to sell. The ideal development refines choices and limits variations to foster consistency.

Sales and Development are competing goods, drawing company resources in different directions. They often require different resolution to obstacles encountered. To be sure, however, the ultimate measure of Business Development’s success is Sales. The measure of Sales is volume.

Do you have a proven product and market and wish to increase purchases? focus on the Art of selling.

Do you have a proven product in one vertical market (say Industrial) and believe it may apply to another (say Medical)? focus on the Science of development.

Do you have neither a proven product nor a know market? Focus on research for you must secure one or the other before you can test your development theories or progress to measurable sales.

Successful Business Development will yield a recipe for a product or a market upon which you then can apply all of the arts of Sales to achieve volume. Business is Sales and Development; an Art and a Science.

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Trends in Virtual CxO – Talent for Hire – Talent Pools12 Aug

I wanted this post to reinforce that RR Online is about making talent, human resource, and project support available to your company on demand. 

·         Need to fill a personnel gap while you’re looking for a full time hire?

·         Want to start up a new business unit or product offering and need temporary help to get it off the ground?

·         Could you use an extra hand to train your sales team, respond to an RFP, or close a big project?

These are needs filled with a growing industry of individuals for hire as their own LLC, non-payroll.  The medical, financial and legal fields have a well established history of this outsourcing and multiple venues for advertising and marketing their services.  Trends are growing for this type of human resourcing in the Information Technology and Sales organizations as well.  RR Online is the talent pooling of technology officer and engineering for telecommunication related services.

As we’ve all seen in our careers, there are distinctly different staffing and talent needs of companies during modes of Start up, Implementation and Operations.  Right sizing organizations to just what is needed to operate effectively during slow periods is a natural state of business; in fact necessary to survive.  RR Online is about putting experience, resource, and flexibility where and when you need in order to re-enable, reinvigorate your ability to start a project up or to grow an idea into implementation. 

If you have a need, want to pursue an idea, or just need to fill in a gap, send me a comment or email and let us see where value can be added.  Most important, keep doing, keep growing.  Our industry is definitely growing and expanding and we need to keep the progress moving.

Best of fortunes to your endeavors,

Robert

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Are you getting the most out of your B2B sales?11 Jun

Well are you?  It is easy to stand back and just accept the sales that come in; to just match the products and pricing that you see others offering; to not think about dormant assets or stranded investments that you could leverage.  Unfortunately, earning money and staying in business isn’t that easy anymore.  Just as the need for good, solid earnings increase so too does competition for your customers.  An unattended business unit is fragile and easily lost.  What are you doing to retain and grow yours?

·         Are your sales teams hitting on all cylinders, impressing the business community with your company’s ability to deliver top quality service? 

·         Is your suite of products matched to the market segments that you are selling to?

·         Do you have excessive fiber, spectrum, bandwidth, peering, collocation space, tech support, CPE, installation teams, switch capacity, trunking, etc… that may be leveraged into new products or features with minimal additional CAPEX?

RR Online is willing to bet that you can get more.  Get on line, send us your comment, describe your market and B2B sales force and let’s discuss.  If there is potential, RR Online will put up to 50% of any fees payable proportional to measurable lift in your B2B earnings. If there is no match, it only costs you a few emails, phone calls and time thinking about your business.

It may be as simple as enhancing your cable modem or DSL offerings in one or two markets which currently bring in $6,000 in monthly sales; something that would garner RR Online 1-2 days investigation with 4-5 spot training sessions for your B2B sales team over the course of 90 days for a $10K fee.  RR Online is willing to bet $5K of that fee towards a lift to $7,500 in monthly sales by the cycle ending on the 120th day.  Sustain it and you are earning $117,000 more each year; not bad for a $10K investment.

Or you may have heard about fiber based Metro Ethernet, wanted to do something about it, but weren’t quite sure.  Yes, you have fiber and fiber splicer’s, you have a crack IT team managing your CMTS or DSLAM, but you don’t want to bet on $100Ks of CAPEX or worry about hiring new people to get started.  Well, most MSOs, ILECs or Power Companies can get started for as little as $20-30K in hardware and be set to land the first 10-20 customers, each with products valued at $500 – $10,000 MRC with normal in house support.  RR Online can work with you on an implementation plan, support you off and on over the first year, and help you win those sales.  There too, we’d bet up to 50% of the fee for set up, training and ongoing support proportional to measurable earnings on the new Metro Ethernet product.  We can also arrange for contract ongoing sales.

If the potential for measurable lift is less, so too are the fees that’d make sense to implement a project, and the amount RR Online could tie to specific earnings.  No two situations are the same and it may take several discussions or meetings to define what measurable value can be achieved; but like eating a BigTex Jalapeño burger, you can’t finish it unless you start.  In either event, effort spent thinking about your B2B sales, products and revenues will be time well spent.  We’ll tie our success to yours.

Think about it, send us a comment, let’s get started on adding value to your bottom line!

Robert

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Project Liaison – VoIP provider to Metro Ethernet Local Loops07 Feb

I was approached earlier this week by a Hosted VoIP PBX provider seeking access to customers through native Ethernet local loop connections.  They were frustrated in that the only offer they could find were traditional T1 TDM special access type loops, which really defeated their whole purpose.  They’ve allowed me to share my proposal to them as an example of what is offered as Project Liaison Support; just not their name or target market. 

 

H-PBX Inc (alias) is running an Asterix server application with unique enhancements, they have purchased regional Dedicated Internet Access interconnections and connections into a Voice Peering provider.  They specialize in servers, applications and Internet type traffic, others are managing their DID/DOD pools and POTS interface.  What they needed was a way of communicating their local loop connection desires to the incumbent CLECs / MSO, and a roadmap to setting up and managing a Network to Network Interface (NNI).  We mapped out a simple plan:

 

1)     I’d start off on site with their team for one week, outlining the building blocks of the NNI, who potential resellers of local loops in that market were, what costs they could expect and which vendors would be best to open dialog with.  $3,500, on site time

2)     H-PBX Inc would then work for the next 30-60 days with the vendors and local loop providers based on our outline to collect costs and possibilities.  Vendors would deliver sample hardware for the NNI for testing.  I would be available on call as needed.  $500 – $1,000, on call retainer.

3)     We’d meet on site again for one week to review proposals, kick off purchase orders and set up interconnect to first desired local loop provider.  $3,500 on site time.

4)     Over the next 60 days we’d have three on site training sessions for the H-PBX Inc sales team on the do’s and don’ts, work through the order flow for the Metro Ethernet local loop and set up practice orders.  $4,000 on site time.

5)     I’d be available on call as needed for the next 120 days while the Beta customers became paying customers and to work through any issues.  $3,000 retainer; additional if more on site time is needed.

 

So for a $15,000 offer, H-PBX Inc gets access to the experience and resources of an extra technologist / business developer for ¾ of a year, filling in gaps where they lack first hand knowledge, yet someone they also don’t need after the project is completed and operational.  The local loop reseller also hopefully benefits in the offer of a new service for which they had no previous market.

 

We’ll see if the project kicks off but if nothing else, it has opened up new doors and prospects for them to consider.

Announcements

Product Development as Business Planning31 Jan

The design, implementation and on going support of a telecommunication’s product or service requires development along a business plan. Too often companies are swept up by the latest technology, the newest vendor enhancement, or what is the hottest topic at the last trade show. While rush efforts towards those products may afford favor among an under informed public, they are too often short lived, unproductive, and result in damaging distractions to a company whose resources and limited funds would have found better uses elsewhere.

This session covers how to measure a potential product against the comparative strengths and weaknesses of your company. It drives at defining specific objectives, revenues, costs, and most importantly, how the new prospective product or service will enhance the value a company offers as well as their financial bottom line. Topics can range from reviewing a broad range of related products and services from a high level to in depth analysis and business plan development with specific deliverables and milestones

Lone Star Broadband

In conjunction with this site, Lone Star Broadband seeks to enable Multiple System Operators (MSO), Independent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) and other aspiring local service providers to launch products and services targeted to Commercial and Enterprise customers.

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