A short history on the motivation behind the Telco Americana project and my focus on the people that will lead its resurgence
I’ve spent many years marketing networking products to telecommunication service providers. Many of those are rural “telcos” that are often portrayed as heavily government-subsidized businesses delivering phone service to the most remote parts of North America. In the last few years, these operators’ revenue streams have been undercut by “over the top” services, while the FCC simultaneously changed the subsidy “rules” away from voice services and towards the delivery of broadband.
While 100% penetration of broadband is undoubtedly a good thing, many industry opinion formers concluded that this would be the death knell for rural operators and that they would likely be relegated to the role of “dumb” service providers – at best. Obituaries were written for a quick and unceremonious demise, after a century of valued service.
But to those naysayers, I thought “not so fast.” Rural telcos are a tough bunch. While some have “consolidated” (or sold out), many are figuring out a way to reduce their dependency on government subsidies and innovating their business through a broader range of non-regulated services, in and out of region. For sure, they’re maintaining a rational regulatory strategy, but in my opinion future survivability, relevance and success will actually depend on four key factors:
- Customers to sell to
- A cost-effective network
- New service innovation
And in all 4 areas, I actually feel remarkably positive.
Steve Gleave | Metaswitch SVP Marketing & Rural Enthusiast