Archive for March, 2012

March 2012: Utilization is Not Easy… Prepping for Dallas… and the Killer Enabler

Utilization… Not Easy

Even a Tech Firm Finds it Hard to Drive e-Solutions

by Doug Adams
The other day I was speaking with a colleague who is the Director of Marketing for a Tech Firm. This is a company filled with what most would consider “early adopters” and tech enthusiasts. In other words, a group of individuals who embrace broadband and e-solutions every day, in a myriad of ways.

She was struggling with a decision of when to roll out a new e-solution to her sales team. It’s an online database/prospecting tool that provides invaluable information about the company’s prospects. She knows it is a great investment… a tool that will help her sales team grow their individual account base – and drive corporate sales… but, she is hesitant.

You see, my colleague is a pragmatist. While her company is a tech firm, sales people are notoriously tech laggards… and very slow to change their routine. Getting them to change or adopt new behaviors can be tough, and right now she’s fighting the uphill battle of getting them all connected – and using – a new CRM program.

So she’s resisting the internal pressure (and the pressure from her friendly sales person) to adopt this technology right now because, in her words, “I only get one chance to launch this, and I need to get it right… otherwise no one will use it.”

Whether she realizes it or not, she’s preaching the SNG story – adoption is great… utilization is what really matters.

And so she has a plan to come as close as she can to ensuring success. She will roll out this new solution after CRM has been adopted. She will provide this prospecting tool in a month where sales opportunities are down and sales people are more open to creative ways to find opportunities. And she will assign a few champions on the sales team to communicate the benefits and convey success stories.

While regions and communities chase expanding broadband availability and bridging the digital divide, we could learn a lot from my friend… make sure you have a strategy to drive utilization. Change can be seen as scary and daunting… line up the pieces and players in a manner that is most likely to produce utilization. SNG can help. Find out how we can provide you with that plan, a roadmap for each organization in your region, and champions to show the way to realize broadband’s transformative economic impacts.

Meet You in Dallas

SNG Offering Discount to Broadband Summit

SNG is not only thrilled to be asked to participate in this year’s Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas from April 24th through April 26th, but we’re also able to offer our Bandwidth Subscribers a 2/3 off discount to the event. This offer is good only for those who have not already registered and the code can be transferred to your colleagues. Register here, click the first radio button for VIP Code Holders, then enter the code SNGVIP300 for a discounted full pass.

Stop by and see Doug Adams and Michael Curri at our booth and see a demo of DEAP – the industry’s first and only hands-on, comparative database. Digital Economy Analytics Platform (DEAP) from SNG enables our clients to compare regions and industries to uncover actionable information and insights. With this new solution, regional leaders can leverage the best practices from each region and industry across their territory. Learn More>>

On April 24th at 4:10, Michael Curri will be moderating a panel entitled Winning Strategies for the Emerging Knowledge Economy. And on April 26th at 10:30, Michael will be on the panel for Alternative Rural Futures: Emerging Opportunities.

 

News from the Field: Illinois

SNG and its partners in Illinois are employing our industry-leading broadband utilization survey to build a foundation of understanding, from which we will develop broadband infrastructure planning and programs. Good data is at the heart of all good decision-making and planning as it provides insights for all that’s required to truly leverage broadband as a transformative regional initiative.

It speaks to just how important Illinois sees broadband expansion and upgrades as part of their future that Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon has taken a leadership position with the survey project recently deployed by Broadband Illinois/Partnership for a Connected Illinois. Drawing on SNG’s vast store of knowledge already acquired through similar work across the U.S., a team comprised of members of state agencies, universities, and SNG has been assembled. This team is undertaking an outreach communications program which has identified thousands of community organizations statewide and engaged dozens of Community Anchor Institutions to help “get the word out.”

Thousands of households and organizations have already submitted their responses. Broadband Illinois is so enthusiastic about the potential engendered by the household and organizations data they’ve extended response time and expanded sponsorship of participation to several other state agencies.

It’s thanks to these extensive efforts that participation rates are on the rise.


Join us in Dallas

SNG is not only thrilled to be asked to participate in this year’s Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas from April 24th through April 26th, but we’re also able to offer our Bandwidth Subscribers a 2/3 off discount to the event. This offer is good only for those who have not already registered and the code can be transferred to your colleagues. Register here, click the first radio button for VIP Code Holders, then enter the code SNGVIP300 for a discounted full pass.

Stop by and see Doug Adams and Michael Curri at our booth and see a demo of DEAP – the industry’s first and only hands-on, comparative database.  Digital Economy Analytics Platform (DEAP) from SNG enables our clients to compare regions and industries to uncover actionable information and insights. With this new solution, regional leaders can leverage the best practices from each region and industry across their territory.  Learn More>>

On April 24th at 4:10, Michael Curri will be moderating a panel entitled Winning Strategies for the Emerging Knowledge Economy. And on April 26th at 10:30, Michael will be on the panel for Alternative Rural Futures: Emerging Opportunities.

Look for live blogs on the SNG site from the Summit and a recap in April’s Bandwidth.


News From the Field: Illinois

SNG and its partners in Illinois are employing our industry-leading broadband utilization survey to build a foundation of understanding, from which we will develop broadband infrastructure planning and programs.  Good data is at the heart of all good decision-making and planning as it provides insights for all that’s required to truly leverage broadband as a transformative regional initiative.

It speaks to just how important Illinois sees broadband expansion and upgrades as part of their future that Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon has taken a leadership position with the survey project recently deployed by Broadband Illinois/Partnership for a Connected Illinois.  Drawing on SNG’s vast store of knowledge already acquired through similar work across the U.S., a team comprised of members of state agencies, universities, and SNG has been assembled.  This team is undertaking an outreach communications program which has identified thousands of community organizations statewide and engaged dozens of Community Anchor Institutions to help “get the word out.”

Thousands of households and organizations have already submitted their responses.  Broadband Illinois is so enthusiastic about the potential engendered by the household and organizations data they’ve extended response time and expanded sponsorship of participation to several other state agencies.    

It’s thanks to these extensive efforts that participation rates are on the rise.


Utilization… Not Easy

Even a Tech Firm Finds it Hard to Drive e-Solutions

by Doug Adams
The other day I was speaking with a colleague who is the Director of Marketing for a Tech Firm. This is a company filled with what most would consider “early adopters” and tech enthusiasts. In other words, a group of individuals who embrace broadband and e-solutions every day, in a myriad of ways.

She was struggling with a decision of when to roll out a new e-solution to her sales team. It’s an online database/prospecting tool that provides invaluable information about the company’s prospects. She knows it is a great investment… a tool that will help her sales team grow their individual account base – and drive corporate sales… but, she is hesitant.

You see, my colleague is a pragmatist. While her company is a tech firm, sales people are notoriously tech laggards… and very slow to change their routine. Getting them to change or adopt new behaviors can be tough, and right now she’s fighting the uphill battle of getting them all connected – and using – a new CRM program.

So she’s resisting the internal pressure (and the pressure from her friendly sales person) to adopt this technology right now because, in her words, “I only get one chance to launch this, and I need to get it right… otherwise no one will use it.”

Whether she realizes it or not, she’s preaching the SNG story – adoption is great… utilization is what really matters.

And so she has a plan to come as close as she can to ensuring success. She will roll out this new solution after CRM has been adopted. She will provide this prospecting tool in a month where sales opportunities are down and sales people are more open to creative ways to find opportunities. And she will assign a few champions on the sales team to communicate the benefits and convey success stories.

While regions and communities chase expanding broadband availability and bridging the digital divide, we could learn a lot from my friend… make sure you have a strategy to drive utilization. Change can be seen as scary and daunting… line up the pieces and players in a manner that is most likely to produce utilization.  SNG can help. Find out how we can provide you with that plan, a roadmap for each organization in your region, and champions to show the way to realize broadband’s transformative economic impacts.


Digitization – the Killer Enabler

by John de Ridder
In the never ending quest for the “killer apps” that drive the uptake of broadband, one that we seem to have overlooked is digitization – which I’d call the ‘killer enabler’ of applications that undermines traditional carrier and regulatory models.

The following are some key insights on how digitization has changed the rules of the telecommunications industry. The impact the roll-out of broadband networks has had on key stakeholders is detailed in my update of the regulatory tool-kit for infoDev and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) [1].

Digitization
Networks used to be built vertically around specific applications (e.g. voice or PayTV) but digitization ‘de-layers’ networks so that content or applications are no longer network specific. Next Generation Networks can support all applications over a single all-IP data network.

As data protocols are application agnostic, they create a problem for traditional operator business models which use applications and content services (e.g. calls) to subsidise carriage (i.e. the line rental or mobile handset). Digitization separates carriage and content services allowing ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) content and application services (e.g. Skype and Netflix).

Broadband
As policy makers and regulators focus on getting more broadband, there has been a shift in access policy. Traditionally, the focus has been on opening legacy copper networks to competition from new entrants. Unsurprisingly, incumbents complained that cost-based access-pricing was too low. They claimed this made them reluctant to invest in fibre access networks to improve broadband services. That made it a policy issue.

There is no clear best practice yet. It is too early to say which approaches work best and how country-specific circumstances might affect outcomes. Some countries have allowed ‘regulatory holidays’ so that the terms of access are determined commercially (e.g. USA). Many countries are determined to see ‘open access’ carried forward from copper to fibre networks; especially when they are supported by public investment.

Open access on fibre does not allow the same unbundling options that are available on copper networks (e.g. full or partial line-sharing). With the few exceptions where point-to-point fibre is deployed, the most common form of access will be bitstream.

Broadband networks displace switched interconnection with IP interconnection which makes the regulator’s task lighter because the access bottle-neck is removed.

Access Pricing
Access pricing for fibre based fixed access networks poses a dilemma for regulators. If they apply traditional cost based approaches to the large investments made in pushing fibre deeper into access networks, regulated prices will hinder the migration of customers from existing copper-based networks, which are largely written-down.  Again, there is no clear best-practice on how to adapt existing costing methods and manage the transition.

Of course, with digitization service providers can go ‘over the top’ to deliver content and services to end customers. IP interconnection will be sufficient [2].

IP interconnection has existed in the internet system for many years with no regulation of ‘peering and transit’ arrangements. Many of these are similar to the ‘bill and keep’ (also known as ‘sender-keeps-all’) arrangements that apply to Receiving Party Network Pays mobile regimes; so for RPNP the transition is simple. For the more common situation in mobile and fixed networks, the transition is helped where termination rates are low. Again, the regulator’s task should become easier; once transitional issues are resolved.

The switched PSTN model is dying and there is divergence in regulatory approaches to the emerging world of next generation networks. Many regulators (rightly) hesitate to act too swiftly as whatever they do will shape the market. Operators of broadband networks will have to move swiftly to shift their business models towards charging for traffic.

End Notes
[1] Digitization is a key theme in the update of Module 2 (Competition and Pricing) of the infoDev/ITU tool kit for regulators at http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.1140.html

[2] Control of the access line was important when carriage and content were joint in supply and demand; but with de-layering any provider can supply content and application services. However, bitstream access may confer a quality advantage in delivering managed services (e.g. IPTV) relative to over-the-top ‘best efforts’ content and applications (e.g. internet television).


February 2012 Bandwidth: Fiber… or Fibre… and the Holy Grail

It’s Fibre, Not Fiber at the European FTTH

Why Video is Not a Killer App

More than 3,300 interested in broadband flocked to Munich earlier this month to review the latest trends and best practices in our industry. We were thrilled to be able to participate and share our insights on broadband, its meaningful use, and how to maximize its benefits.

Chris Holden, the organization’s president, set a tone for the conference that aligned with SNG’s own mantra – the importance of meaningful use.  Holden explained that the biggest challenge facing the FTTH (fiber) market is adoption and use… driving meaningful use.  Holden explained that there seems to be an understanding gap when getting people to switch.

The current hope is that video becomes the killer app that will drive more people to make the switch to fiber and therefore reap the untold benefits of faster Internet. Maybe. I may be a little less optimistic than the rest that video is a silver bullet. As a broadband evangelist, I realize the message must change to get the masses to “convert.” How does video matter to businesses operations and competitiveness? The fact is that there are lots of audiences for whom video does not currently matter. The real question is how can you make it relevant to them and personalize the context? For example, for health care providers and their patients, broadband video would become relevant with the availability of telemedicine.

There are no shortcuts, no killer apps, or silver bullets. It’s still Marketing 101 – tangible benefits are the only thing that moves move the needle.

 

Beyond the Killer App

There’s No Holy Grail, But There’s Utilization

by Michael Curri
Only through driving an understanding of the benefits of multiple e-solutions (enabled by broadband) can a community can truly create a platform for innovation. To clarify, when I talk about broadband I mean high-speed, reliable and affordable access to the Internet so that a business, organization or household can effectively participate in the digital economy.
Some people have the experience, or can figure out what fiber can mean for them – but many do not. They need to be shown and have the value of FTTH (fiber) be personalized to the needs of their business, organization, or household – it’s not self-evident to most people how, for example, to transform their operations and deliver their services or content online. And of course, many e-solutions are more complex and sophisticated in nature, making them slower to be adopted (or understood … or both). This issue needs to be understood and addressed by providers of FTTH.

The table below shows rankings based on adoption rates for organizations with average utilization levels equal to a Digital Economy index (DEi) score of 6.  As a reminder, DEi is a proprietary SNG measure where scores range from 1 to 10 (10 being highest). The higher scores reflecting the greater the number, scope and sophistication of the Internet activities deployed in an organization.

e-Solutions Adoption Rates for “Average” Organizations (with DEi of 6)

Those with lower utilization adopt the easier to use applications first while more sophisticated and difficult applications tend to be adopted later, especially by organizations that already have high utilization.

What does it mean to have a high capacity, high quality, reliable and affordable Internet? It depends on who the end-user is (by industry sector), what they’re currently doing (i.e. their business operations), what they want to be doing, and what they should be doing to remain competitive

Until the FTTH vendors figure out how to personalize the value of FTTH to end-users, adoption and meaningful use will continue to be an issue – and they won’t be seeing the uptake by end-users that can justify their investment in FTTH networks.

This is where the business case and the economic case for investing in FTTH needs to be looked at from an economic perspective. SNG presented on impacts from broadband and FTTH from SNG findings and I then turned to how that information could be used to drive economic development through broadband.  I encourage you to review the material covered at the conference by clicking here.

News from the Field: Kentucky

In Kentucky, the process of outreach is underway.  Led by the Office of Broadband Outreach in Frankfort, KY, SNG and their partners have deployed broadband utilization surveys statewide directly to over 120,000 residential and organizations email addresses.  As in Illinois the survey is open to the public and available on the host agency websites.

Where in some instances, survey participation is seen in “pockets” of activity, surveys have been received from every corner and county in Kentucky.  This is particularly important in the more mountainous Appalachian areas of South and Eastern Kentucky where, historically, broadband capacity and availability has been lacking.

Kentucky sees a high rate of interest from radio and print media which has provided a nice little push encouraging survey completion.