Big Telco Proposes Hitting Your Bottom Line to Improve Theirs

June 18th, 2018 by

The telecom industry has gotten riled up recently. If you have been paying attention to the news, you know that the biggest telcos are asking the FCC to make a policy change that would have huge impacts on both residential and business customers. At the end of the day, Windstream Enterprise stands for our current customers and those of you who will become our customers in the future. Our loyalties lie with you, not the big telcos.

Given current government leadership’s fervor for rolling back regulations, it’s important to remember that marketplace oversight often elevates public interests above the profit motives of monopolies and near-monopolies.

That’s certainly true of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which sparked a wave of competition that brought more choices and in many cases lower prices to businesses and consumers. Big Telco is working hard to reverse that dynamic, pushing the FCC to repeal a key element of the Act. If they succeed, it will hit corporate America’s pocket book. And it will hit hard.

The element under attack: Among its many provisions, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) to offer UNEs (unbundled network elements) to competitive providers, at prices that include a reasonable profit. This has enabled a new class of providers (like ourselves) to deliver innovative services without having to duplicate ILEC infrastructure – which, after all, was paid for in full by ILEC customers. In addition to greatly increasing service options, UNEs helped to keep costs under control by fostering competition among a larger number of service providers. In other words, we help you manage your costs while enabling you to run your business your way and better serve your customers.

Big Telco would like to increase its profits by giving consumers and enterprises fewer options at higher prices. Through the USTelecom lobby group, the ILECs are pushing the FCC to end their obligation to make UNEs available. If they succeed, the largest U.S. telephone companies will hit enterprises with a serious double-whammy:

  • First, the proposal calls for giving ILECs the ability to increase rates for their embedded base of UNEs up to 15% — a cost increase it admits would be passed to end customers. The increase would take effect immediately upon acceptance of the proposal. With no incremental costs to the ILECs, it is purely a profit boost that will hit the largest consumers of services from competitive providers the hardest.
  • Then, the proposal calls for the termination of embedded UNEs within 18 months, with the projected result being that “40% of end-customers will migrate to next-generation services in Year 1.” Windstream Enterprise has helped many enterprises that have already migrated, and we know that providers make considerable up-front investments of time and money so that customers can realize the benefits of next-gen technologies. While we promote next-generation networking as an option, it’s unjust to force a transition on the ILECs’ preferred timeframe, like it or not.

For these reasons, Windstream Enterprise strongly opposes the USTelecom request. Although we are an ILEC serving communities in 18 states and a USTelecom member ourselves, we’re also a competitive service provider in markets where we’re not the ILEC. We know how much enterprises have benefitted from UNEs. We also know the financial impact of an immediate 15% increase in telecommunications costs for these enterprises. And we are extremely concerned about the business disruption they’ll incur with forced migration to next-generation service within a brief window.

Simply put, this proposal is a roadmap for inflicting pain on enterprise customers for the benefit of Big Telco.

That’s why we have joined forces with other competitive service providers and champions of a competitive telecommunications marketplace to persuade the FCC to reject Big Telco’s proposal. Together, we have persuaded the FCC to extend the comment deadlines, giving all interested parties more time to review and respond to USTelecom’s proposal.

We hope to help shut down that proposal completely. If that can’t be done, we’ll press hard for a more reasonable transition period that eases the disruption ILECs are so eager to force on enterprise customers. You can also read more about our official positioning here.

At the end of the day, our job is to help you transform your business by providing innovative network solutions and elevating your experience with us so you can do the same for your customers. That’s why we don’t have boxed solutions and refuse to get “boxed in’ by competitors” proposals that stand in the way of us putting you first. We’ll continue to advocate for you in these deliberations and will keep you posted on the progress as it unfolds.

IT Transformation: No Longer an Option. It’s a Mandate.

February 13th, 2018 by

Whether you’re a veteran of the networking and communication industry or new to this sector, the tectonic shifts that accompany businesses’ rapid migration to the cloud and adoption of next-gen technologies have been felt by customers and network providers alike. This transformation shock would register 9.0 on the Richter scale, and lest you think the change has run its course, think again. We’re in for a wave of aftershocks as business and IT transformation evolves to keep pace in the digital economy. With it, the role of the network is changing, and an exciting, but ultimately rewarding journey awaits those willing to take it.

The transformation journey begins

The great irony of the current situation is that as businesses migrate core workloads to the cloud, they often run into a challenge they might not have considered; that their current legacy network architecture is not prepared to support transformative change. At the same time, the legacy service providers they depend on have a history of not being easy to work with and less than responsive to their evolving needs. This is especially true for often-ignored mid-market customers. In the wake of all this migration and change, there is a huge opportunity for a provider willing to take on the challenge of helping the customers that other providers have ignored or can’t keep up with.

A transformative new brand for a transformative era

It was with the needs of these customers in mind that a few years ago, we began to transform our own business. To get where we needed to be, we knew we had to make some important changes. We began with the customer, instituting a new company-wide, customer-focused culture to radically change our customer experience for the better. And, to differentiate and distance ourselves from the world of tactical providers we had to become an agile, responsive partner with solutions designed to empower businesses to address their most essential business technology challenges.

We also had to address our technology capabilities, investing heavily in infrastructure upgrades including SDN across our nationwide network. This creates an agile, intent-based programmable network fully optimized to deliver in an always-evolving, cloud-driven environment. Then to put that technology to work, we introduced a broad range of strategic solutions ideally suited to enterprise customers who want greater control and who seek to drive business innovation and deliver a differentiated customer experience through superior connectivity, communications and collaboration.

Together, these changes have been so significant that we are fundamentally a different company today than we were just a few years ago.

I will admit that the process has not been easy. Change never is. At times, it felt like changing the tires on a bus that’s moving at 100 miles per hour. Our conviction about making these needed changes, however, was greater than our fear of losing control while stopping the bus. And when momentum is on your side, you’d better keep going.

Introducing Windstream Enterprise

Looking back, the massive transformation was necessary to become the kind of provider that customers choose to do business with. While our journey is far from over, we’ve come to the point where it was time to take things to the next level with an update to our brand to match.

  • Our Net Promoter Score (how likely a customer is to recommend Windstream Enterprise to another customer) improved 43% in the past year alone.
  • We’ve launched 17 new products in just the last 3 years, including industry-leading solutions like SD-WAN with Concierge service and UCaaS that give customers a real edge in the cloud-driven environment.
  • The impact of these introductions has been immediate. In 2017, 76% of sales included a strategic product, and 71% of revenue on new logo sales is from strategic products–up from just 23%.

With these results fueling our progress, I’m proud to introduce Windstream Enterprise (WE), a new brand for our mid-market, enterprise and wholesale business. The WE brand reflects the changes we’ve made and the many to come as we continue to evolve to serve our customers’ needs.

As our journey continues, we will not lose sight of the singular goal behind the Windstream Enterprise brand: to be the network technology partner businesses expect but rarely find—a customer-focused, agile, responsive and expert trusted advisor committed to helping them connect, transform and elevate their business.

A special thank you to all the businesses who have presented us with the challenges and opportunities for you have helped drive the customer-focus and innovation that define the WE brand. We consider you partners and co-sojourners and look forward to sharing your journey with you.