Everyone knows that broadband networks are in the midst of a migration process. And I love the way the industry talks about it in such a matter-of-fact way. You hear about the three major drivers: exploding bandwidth demand, economic strains and competition eating away at the edges.
But that’s the easy part. From there, it gets very complicated.
So realize that the decision to transition your network is important, but the smaller decisions you make along the way…well, they’re crucial! And it’s dangerous, because on the surface these sub-decisions seem so basic. But let’s take a look at a few and you’ll see that they need serious consideration.
Let’s start with an easy one: which services do you plan to offer and how quickly? There are the easy answers, like broadband, VoD and NG voice, but beyond that, your market opportunities, challenges and successful business models are going to be defined by the competitive landscape and even by the regulatory environment, in some markets.
How about this one: will your operations teams be able to support these new applications? I once had a friend who decided to open up a home remodeling business. Guess what? He was so good at it that his business exploded. He didn’t have enough time to take care of all the customers. He started disappointing them. Good-bye, Thomas Home Improvements.
Don’t underestimate the impact a new service introduction could have on your service support structure. And it’s okay to think about outsourcing here. In fact, many operators are looking at that kind of model, or even going to a managed services model.
Another issue: will the deployed technology stand the test of time? No one wants a situation where a fantastic, simplified network is architected, only to be obsolete in 12 months. Operators must make technology choices that provide open, multi-service solutions – supported by simplified network management – with the ability to quickly change, expand and react to the market.
I suppose it all boils down to one issue, really, which is the decision of what kind of infrastructure vendor are you using. Find the right vendor and it will help you answer all these questions. Find the wrong vendor and it will do a terrific job of selling you lots of equipment and software that will not help your business in the long run. (**One sub-point here: you don’t want a vendor that is limited by its own product suite. They will have no choice but to recommend, at times, solutions that are not ideal.)
My bottom-line advice: look for vendors that can provide value beyond the technology – companies with full network expertise in transitioning customers, offering consulting, implementation, turnkey and managed services beyond traditional networking infrastructure sales.
This is a major time in the history of the communications industry. The last thing you want as an operator is to underestimate the significance of the underlying decisions within the context of the network migration challenge we are all facing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Which are the key sub-decisions you are facing during your network migration?