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.
Reliable network connectivity is consistently at the top of the list of requirements for any IT professional. More and more companies are moving to hosted unified communications and other cloud services, and the performance of those services is highly dependent on the speed and quality of the Internet connection. There are many connectivity options out there, but the one that businesses are increasingly turning to is Over the Top (OTT).
What is OTT?
In an OTT set up, a business contracts for Internet services with their choice of provider, which is often the Internet connection they already had. Then, they use a separate provider to deliver their cloud services over that broadband connection. This is similar to “cutting the cord” for your home entertainment, where you use your existing cable provider for Internet access, then stream your movies or TV shows from an app instead of watching the cable provider’s content.
OTT provides you the flexibility of choosing your own Internet Service Provider (ISP) to meet your unique business requirements. It allows you to have more control over your network configuration and reduce costs, which can be especially beneficial for small to mid-sized businesses.
The QoS Quandary
Although OTT is a flexible and cost-effective solution, it may also come with some challenges that your business should be prepared to address.
If your voice service provider can’t control your Internet connection, it is unable to control the Quality of Service (QoS). QoS criteria give priority to specific types of network traffic (such as voice or video), specific applications, or even types of users (such as employees vs. guests). Using an OTT connection means your voice provider can’t guarantee QoS for voice traffic, which may hinder the real-time communication of a phone call. This can cause jitter and latency, both of which can impact audio quality:
- Jitter is an inconsistent arrival of data between two endpoints. Because the information (voice) is divided into packets, each packet can travel by a different path from the sender to the receiver. When packets arrive at their intended destination in a different order than they were originally sent, the result is a call with poor or scrambled audio.
- Latency is the time it takes a data packet to travel from point to point on the network. Each step your voice traffic takes through the network will add to its latency. High latency will cause an echo or unnatural delays in an audio conversation.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use an OTT connection but still prioritize the voice traffic? You can…
OTT with Managed SD-WAN for Better Broadband
Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) enables businesses to build high-performance WANs using relatively low-cost and commercially available broadband Internet links. For example, a business with a remote office may have to spend thousands of dollars in construction charges to get fiber to their location. Instead, that business can use the existing cable Internet service from their existing ISP without fear of quality issues. The SD-WAN network makes the most of these links by providing businesses with end-to-end application performance and availability.
Managed SD-WAN is a powerful solution for companies who use their own broadband. SD-WAN manages your connection and ensures your voice and video have the right amount of bandwidth, without compromising QoS or continuity. Let’s take a look at some key features:
- Optimum network usage — Use the most optimum network at all times. SD-WAN will select between available network connections, using the “best” transport for a given application.
- Security — Encrypted connectivity secures traffic while it’s in transit across any connection.
- Flexibility — Scale bandwidth up or down on a moment’s notice. Redistribute bandwidth to accommodate flash conditions or new applications. The SD-WAN controls the allocation of bandwidth, not the carrier. Therefore, you can ensure that critical applications such as VoIP receive the bandwidth they require when they need it.
- Greatly reduced costs — Today, broadband Internet performance is often comparable to MPLS. In many cases, this eliminates the need for costly MPLS networks. Your Internet costs can be as much as 90 percent less!
- Fast office moves or adds — Get a new office online in minutes, not the weeks and months that you’d have with MPLS or some Internet circuits. Once installed, SD-WAN lets you perform moves, adds and changes in minutes.
A growing number of personal and business apps are eating through bandwidth at an unprecedented rate. Protecting voice and video communications needs to be a priority, but it can present a major challenge for most network administrators. Voice is the lifeline of any business and needs to have 100% availability and quality. SD-WAN offers a simple, elegant solution that allocates network resources for all business-essential applications while also ensuring that your voice and video communications get the highest priority – and it does it all on the connection of your choice.
About the Author
Matt Mair is a Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at TPx. His role includes marketing and communications for Managed SD-WAN, Unified Communications, and TPx Complete – an industry-first bundle of essential business services. Matt holds an MBA from Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business and resides in Los Angeles.