Is TPx Getting Out of the Access Business?

Is TPx getting out of the access business? Given our unwavering focus on managed communications and IT services delivered over the top (OTT) of our customers’ existing bandwidth, we hear this question from our channel partners a lot. The answer is, absolutely not! But due to the trajectory of our industry, we think about access differently than we used to. And our channel partners should, too.

We have a rich history of providing access services on a regional basis under our former brand name, TelePacific. For years, many channel partners in the West and Southwest viewed us as their go-to provider for connectivity services.

More recently, after changing our brand name to TPx and expanding nationwide, channel partners understandably began to question our position on access. Are we in or out?

We’re most definitely in. Rest assured, we’ll continue selling and supporting access, but not in the same way we did before. Access is an enabler for our managed services, UCx and MSx, which are our strategic services going forward.

This change in mindset is a critical step in our company’s evolution, and it’s one that many forward-thinking channel partners are mirroring because they see change afoot.

A Complete Solution – With or Without Access

Access is just the conduit by which other services are delivered. The conversation is no longer about whether or not you can get bandwidth – it’s about whether that bandwidth will adequately support today’s high-value, mission-critical business applications. And since TPx is one of the top SD-WAN providers, we can ensure that any connection – whether we’ve provided it or not – is robust enough to address that challenge.

Consider the following: We no longer go to Blockbuster to rent movies. Because Blockbuster didn’t recognize the existential crisis it was in, it became too late for it to evolve its business model. By contrast, look at the transformative change that Netflix has undertaken. Not only did it move away from mail-order DVD rentals and pivot to streaming content, but more radically, it’s now creating its own content! Blockbuster’s business was decimated because they stuck with the status quo while their competitor evolved – and that’s a danger that any business must take action to avoid.

So, when our customers or channel partners ask us to quote standalone bandwidth, we’ll be looking to change the conversation to discuss how that access enables our higher-value strategic services that address business problems and improve productivity. We believe that by providing a complete, fully-managed solution (whether we’re providing the access, or going over the top and managing it for the customer), our contribution to their success in growing their business is even more meaningful.

The following realities support this position:

  • A vast majority of our prospects are already locked into contracts for Internet services with their existing provider(s).
  • Many of the companies (e.g., CLECs) we used to compete against only a few years ago are gone.
  • Access continues to be commoditized, and is often plagued by high construction costs and installation delays.
  • 5G is on the horizon and will facilitate access much more efficiently.
  • SD-WAN has emerged as a powerful force for enabling quality of service (QoS) across multiple networks.

In this environment, it makes more sense for all of us to embrace OTT services paired with managed connectivity.

This position might be a tough pill to swallow for some of our channel partners, especially for those who have made a great living by selling access. However, it’s one that we’ve come to believe is critical to our survival – and our channel partners’ survival — given the sea change occurring in our industry.

Managed Connectivity is the Future

For us, managed connectivity is the future. And if OTT isn’t possible, then we can use any mix of last-mile access solutions, including:

  • Fixed wireless assets
  • Ethernet fiber connected back to our nationwide NNI network
  • Resale of High Speed Internet Access, both DIA and broadband from competitive providers
  • Copper or other TDM facilities
  • Existing connections that customers already have from TPx

We can use our managed SD-WAN router on top of those connections to ensure QoS and create a solid foundation to deliver our UCx and MSx solutions.

We believe that managed connectivity combined with OTT services is the model of the future for companies like ours, serving small and medium businesses (SMBs) that don’t have sophisticated resources to procure and manage technology.

It’s time for all of us – service providers and channel partners alike – to evolve our product sets and revenue mixes. Our fortunes in the past will not serve us well into the future. TPx leadership has the vision to see this outcome and the wherewithal to make the transition. As our valued channel partners and customers, we encourage you to join us for the revolution.

 

About the Author

Nate Bledsoe joined TPx in June 2018 as Vice President of the company’s new Managed Connectivity line of business. His mandate is to accelerate the successful growth of TPx into a nationally focused provider of comprehensive, integrated managed services that are enabled by a broad set of access options. Previously, Bledsoe was Managing Partner of CloudPeer networks, CTO of Magna5 and COO of X5 Solutions.