Products of the 22nd century

23 September 2014 | Dr Judy Reed Smith

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Dr Judy Reed Smith

Blog Author | ATLANTIC-ACM; CEO


Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing scores of applications for Capacity’s Global Awards to be announced in November in Amsterdam. They were impressively written and without the marketing rhetoric of yesteryear.

Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing scores of applications for Capacity’s Global Awards to be announced in November in Amsterdam. They were impressively written and without the marketing rhetoric of yesteryear. Moreover, they showed the many ways carriers are using technology to better serve their stockholders, investors, employees, and, most of all, customers.

We have all known, to quote Accenture Technology Vision, that “every business is a digital business.” Since our industry enables business digitisation, it should deploy better applications, platform interfaces, software defined networks, network functions, virtualisation, contract processing platforms, billing automation, and all the other forms of mechanisation.

We build the networks serving the mobile, global, fast-moving populations of new businesses spawned by our digital age, and our industry’s products and services need to keep all those electrons of information safe and private while probing program terrorists invent new ways to use networks fraudulently (apparently accounting to $6 billion of the global wholesale revenues each year) or, even worse, violate customers. Our industry also is mastering efficiency, managing these needs even as slim margins become slimmer and our core products offer more for less.

Since all the company names and details are proprietary, I will not spill any beans or violate any privacy by going into detail here, but the competing products and services in this year’s Capacity Awards reflect these advancements and I hope to see you in Amsterdam this November as leaders and innovators are awarded well-earned recognition.

What I can spill are the opinions from another group of judges—the wholesale customers of stateside long-haul carriers. Each year, customers on ATLANTIC-ACM’s Executive Research Panels share vital opinions with us, taking the time to offer not just satisfaction ratings, but what they think of each carrier’s product quality relative to the same product sold by competitors, and how competitive they find the price of each carrier’s offering, allowing us to develop a matrix with four quadrants – “Provide Premium”, “Raise the Bar”, “Manage Margin” and “Shoot for Share.”

“Raise the Bar” is in the highest quality, most price competitive quadrant. Here’s a snapshot of stateside carrier long-haul carrier performance in this quadrant:

• For voice services, including TDM and VoIP, the top quadrant winners were Verizon, Level 3 and Sprint

• In the increasingly competitive data categories only CenturyLink hit this quadrant for Legacy DIA  For Ethernet DIA, Cogent was the most price-competitive, with tw telecom close behind on price but topping quality ratings 

• We asked about three inter-city stateside products as well.  For inter-city wavelengths, the small carriers topped the chart for price and quality, with XO also in the top quadrant.  For inter-city Ethernet, the small players rose to the top again, followed by Ethernet-focussed tw telecom and, again, XO.  On both of these inter-city products, Level 3 came in just behind on price but still raised the quality bar.  On the third inter-city product, Dark Fiber, XO and Zayo took the top spots.

• We also asked about three more data products.  First, for IP-Based WAN, with only the four largest carriers rated, Verizon was deemed the most price competitive (surprised?) and Level 3 rated highest on quality.  The last two rated were old faithful products Long Haul Private Line, low capacity and high capacity.  For low capacity, Level 3 and tw telecom took the top quadrant (do you think they will dominate as a combined entity in 2015?).  However, for the high capacity, small players topped the quadrant, with Zayo and Level 3 also securing spots.

The digital lining of a carrier’s network is crucial to margin, buying and billing, fraud protection and all aspects of running those incredible five nines networks. I look forward to recognising this year’s Capacity Global Awards winners in November and also congratulate the many carriers that consistently raise the bar with customers and make our industry shine.