2020 Vision

Photo Credit ; Carmi Levy, @carmilevy more at http://writteninc.blogspot.com/

The world does not need another blog post about predictions or trends for the coming New Year. Or another Top 10 list. Those are far too common and overdone. For this years first blog post, I thought I would instead focus on a few topics that I see becoming of increasing importance, especially to service providers in the competitive space against Big Telco. You can read about 5G, AI, IoT and other acronyms elsewhere.

Telecom Fraud
The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in fraud on our networks. Hacking by criminal networks is easier than ever and they avoid prosecution by doing it across international borders. The migration to IP networks and softswitches have opened up new avenues fro the bad actors to attack. This trend shows no signs of abating, meaning that as an industry we must put more time, effort and manpower into safeguarding our networks and businesses to avoid catastrophic losses.

The Decline of Voice
Worldwide voice revenues continue to decline. We have highlighted this trend before here. Silicon Valley giants like Microsoft (Skype), Facebook (WhatsApp, Messenger), Apple (FaceTime) and Google have sucked away a lot of the consumer voice and messaging traffic from worldwide networks. As service providers we need to look for other sources of revenue rather than trying to compete for a slice of an ever shrinking pie.

This is where looking at other market sectors such as Enterprises and SMB for growth that are underserved or poorly served by Big Telco come into play. Or looking for markets like International MPLS data circuits or cloud connectivity where Big Telco does not have 90% market share. Finally, the best way to compete against “free” services is not to offer low cost service; rather it is to offer premium, high quality services that Silicon Valley and Big Telco are not equipped to provide. (more on quality here)

Recession is coming
We are now in one the longest, if not the longest, economic expansions in the history of the United States. History has shown that this cannot keep going indefinitely, a recession is coming soon. When the US gets a recession, Canada gets an even bigger one. As competitive service providers we must be prepared for this on two key fronts; expenses and top-line revenue.

Now is the time to tighten the screws on your organization from top to bottom. Examine all costs, especially all S,G & A line items to see where savings can be had. Billing systems, payment services, any form of overhead costs should all be examined and cost savings sought wherever possible.

Top-line revenue ? Here is a counter-intuitive tip from a veteran of many boom-bust cycles. Times of recession can often be times of the best top-line growth for companies like ours. During hard times, business customers are more receptive to moving away from their current providers to be able to save money. This is when they will look to competitive suppliers. So have your marketing and especially your front line sales staff prepared for this opportunity.

I hope these topics gave you few ideas for your business for the coming year. As always, Amitel and AurorA are here to help. Reach out to me to have deeper discussions on the above, or any other pain points you may be experiencing. Looking forward to growing together with you in 2020.

Your Friend in Telecom

Timo

Thanks again to Carmi Levy, @carmilevy for use of his superb photograph. Follow his work at http://writteninc.blogspot.com/

2019 Canadian ISP Summit – Day 4

Day 4 ? But the conference only ran from Nov 4 to 6 ? How could there be a Day 4 ?

Well when you are self-employed like I am it takes a full day AFTER the conference just to try to get caught up. There is the large backlog in the email inbox, phone calls to return, meetings to attend.

There is the followup from all the social media posts. I made the commitment to blog each day of the Summit, and really appreciate that you readers took the time to follow along on my website and left great comments on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds.

Finally, there is the followup from the pile of business cards that I came home with. I will connect with you all on LinkedIn and Twitter, and send you some details on AurorA and Amitel to remind you that when you need something “International”, contact me, “Your Friend in Telecom”.

Looking forward to next year’s Canadian ISP Summit, Nov 2 to 4, 2020, the 10th anniversary edition.

2019 Canadian ISP Summit – Day 3

Fireside Chat with Konrad Von Finkenstein and Anja Karadeglija Photo Credit ; Canadian ISP Summit twitter feed

The main focus for the final day of the ISP Summit was regulatory. Former CRTC Chair Konrad Von Finckenstein held a fireside chat with Anja Karadeglija of the Wire Report. That was followed by a regulatory panel with Chris Tacit, Michael Geist and Laura Tribe moderated by Christine Dobby from the Globe & Mail.

Many hot issues were covered including MVNO’s, insights from KVF as to how decisions are made at the CRTC and the need for speed and certainty, the difficulty in establishing costing and the retroactive compensation to the competitive industry for overcharging by the incumbents that is being challenged in court. There were good questions from George Burger and Matt Stein to the former Chair challenging his viewpoint on making the decision retroactive for 3 years considering how long it took to make the decision.

Chris Tacit got a laugh from the audience when he mentioned the history of the incumbents tactics in fighting decisions that they don’t like back to Decision 92-12, when the CRTC opened up long distance market to competition. Some panelists and audience members may not have remembered 92-12, actually they might not even have been born yet. Of course that is when I was at ACC Long Distance as VP, Network so I lived and worked through those long distance wars and remember them well. And yes, Bell and the telcos were anti-competitive then and they still are now.

The panel also expounded on what the new minority Federal government might be able to accomplish in its mandate, as well as gave predictions on ministers such as Navdeep Bains and whether he would stay on at ISED or be given a different portfolio (consensus seems to be that he would get a new file) and that Minister Rodriguez might stay on Heritage.

Personally, I feel that a minority government can usually only accomplish a few items in its mandate. There are other , bigger files that will need attention right away such as Alberta and the pipeline issue. There may not be enough time or political capital to get much done on telecom or tech issues.

Once again the Canadian ISP Summit proved to be a great, action packed three days. The content was excellent, the networking was tremendous and it was great to see old friends and make some new ones.

2019 Canadian ISP Summit – Day 2

Photo credit to Maryna Ivus

The Dawn of a New Era in Canadian Telecom ? Maybe

Day 2 at the ISP Summit featured CNOC President and CEO of Distributel Matt Stein releasing a survey that reveals that Canadians are frustrated and feel dissatisfied and trapped by the Large Telcos. Consumers highlighted a lack of fairness, affordability and choice .

The following is an overview of select survey findings:

  • While almost all Canadians have Internet in their home, the majority are customers of the big telecommunications companies: Nearly all (97%) of Canadians have Internet service in their home. Almost eight-in-ten (79%) are customers of one of the big telecommunications providers, while only 3% are customers of smaller independent companies.
  • Canadians feel trapped by their current provider, with over half in Atlantic Canada feeling trapped: 40% would like to change companies but feel trapped by their current Internet service provider. Just over half (53%) of Atlantic Canadians are more likely to say they would like to change Internet providers but feel trapped.
  • Customers of the large telecommunications firms feel they have limited choice when it comes to changing companies: 65% of Canadians who have home Internet from a large telecom company feel there is no point in changing telecommunications companies as they are all pretty much the same.
  • Lack of competition has led Canadians to falsely believe there are no alternatives to the big telecommunications firms: Nearly half (45%) believe there are no alternatives to the large Internet service providers.
  • An anti-consumer environment has been nurtured and is thriving across Canada: Almost half (49%) of Canadians feel that it is too difficult to change Internet service providers.
  • Canadians are frustrated they are paying some of the highest prices in the world for home Internet: Nearly all (90%) Canadians who have home Internet are frustrated they are paying much higher Internet fees than consumers in other countries. Rural Canadians (96%) are significantly more likely to be frustrated with paying more than other countries compared to urban and suburban residents.
  • Customers of the large telecommunications firms have experienced price increases over the last 24 months – almost half without notification: Just over two-thirds (67%) of Canadians who have home Internet from a large telecom company say their Internet service provider has increased the price of their home Internet in the past 24 months. Among those who saw a price increase, 41% say the price increased without any notification.
  • Despite recent price increases, Canadians are experiencing an unacceptably low increase in value: Only 12% of Canadians with home Internet say they are getting more value in their products and services after a price increase. While still low, urban Canadians (16%) are more likely to say they got better service after a price increase, compared to suburban Canadians (8%) and rural Canadians (10%).

“Canadians have clearly voiced their concern about the status quo created by the large telecommunications firms,” said Stein. “The limits they have deliberately placed on consumer choice, fairness, affordability and competition have led to unacceptable levels of dissatisfaction. And when 40 percent of their customers say they want to change companies but feel trapped by their current provider, that’s a clear sign that the status quo is not serving Canadians.”

You can read more about it here

2019 Canadian ISP Summit – Day 1

I was looking forward to this event for months and Day 1 did not disappoint. Met up with many friends and customers within the first few minutes of arriving on Monday. And made new friends and contacts throughout the day . Thanks to TekSavvy for sponsoring my “office” at the show.

The keynotes on innovation and disruption in our Internet industry were very interesting. The talk about women in tech by Maryna Ivus of ICTC was very eye opening. She outlined StatCan numbers that show the number of women working in telecom fell from 35% in 1999 to 25% in 2019. Those numbers surprised and disappointed me as someone who has been in telecom all my adult life.

There was ample networking at this sold-out event; a cocktail reception sponsored by TorIX and QIX, a superb dinner at the CRAFT Beer Market by MBSI WAV and Cambium Networks and an after party by ADTRAN that I was smart enough to not attend . There are times I have to acknowledge my own limits ! Thank you to all the sponsors for making this event so special.

Day 2 has a full agenda with keynotes and panels on both the business of ISP’s and technical discussions. I will blog the highlights tomorrow after the Gala Dinner.

2019 Canadian ISP Summit

The Registration Desk for the 2108 Canadian ISP Summit

Monday, November 4th is the start of the 2019 Canadian ISP Summit to be held at the Toronto Mariott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Designed for Internet Service Providers (large and small) from across the country, the Canadian ISP Summit is a conference that allows attendees to learn, grow and network.

It is put on by CNOC, The Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc. There are three days filled with keynotes, panels, general sessions and lightening talks. There will be technical sessions, business related sessions and always some superb regulatory discussions. There are plenty of opportunities to network before and after sessions, during coffee breaks and meals as well as cocktail receptions and fabulous dinners.

Caught holding court at the TekSavvy booth, networking during the 2018 Summit

This show is one of my favourites. I have attended three of the last four ISP Summits and will be attending again this year. It gives me an opportunity to focus on the data side of AurorA’s business. International telecommunications is more than just voice termination; AurorA also provides international data services such as MPLS, Cloud Connectivity, SD-WAN and even Tier 1 Internet. The Amitel side has partnerships that can help ISP’s with merchant service and payment processing, billing systems, colocation at 151 Front Street and even business process outsourcing. The Summit energizes me, educates me and introduces me to industry people from all across Canada.

Once again we’ll be blogging from the conference. My goal is to post a summary each night of some of the more significant talks, discussion and events of the Summit that I feel would be relevant to you, my readers, specifically from an international telecom perspective.

Hopefully, I will see you live at the Canadian ISP Summit. If not, then check in here in November for my updates from #ISPSummit. If there is something specific you would like me to cover then leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@TimoVainionpaa)