ITS Telecom's story is full of disruption.
And its recent move into smart-home, managed WiFi solutions is segueing into an opportunity to partner with a local hospital on a telehealth service.
The Indiantown, Fla.-based service provider has offered 1Gbit/s, underground fiber-based service to residential customers for several years. More recently, it upgraded to Calix GigaCenters for wireless offerings. But when it came to selling managed WiFi, consumers didn't understand what the operator was offering, said Jeff Leslie, president and CEO. (See ITS Telecom Wraps Smart Homes in Mesh.)
That lack of comprehension about managed WiFi did not, however, prevent residential customers from calling about problems with the growing number of Internet of Things devices that were not working well within their homes, he said. A figurative smart light bulb went on.
"We're giving people a half gig, a full gig, to their house but it's not penetrating throughout their home," Leslie recalled. "That's when we discovered the reason whole-house WiFi was going to be important: It's really the smart products -- the televisions, the refrigerators, the game systems and things like that are going to be the reason you need good, quality whole-home WiFi."
Recognizing that, ITS Telecom held an open house before Christmas where it displayed an array of smart products such as doorbells, floodlights and security cameras (and held a "Smart Home Makeover" prize giveaway) to demonstrate the need for and role of whole-home WiFi. Unexpectedly, in addition to understanding the value of home networks, many consumers wanted to purchase IoT devices from the operator despite knowing prices were higher than those of local or online retailers, said Leslie.
"They wanted to walk through their houses and not lose connections on the things they're using," he said. "They told us, 'We're not IT people. We don't want to start setting these things up.'"
New opp, new tools
Whole-home networks and smart-home solutions provide new sales opportunities. They also allow ITS Telecom to remotely diagnose many network problems, reducing expensive truck rolls and improving customer experience, said Leslie.
"We now have the ability to remedy any WiFi problem in a minute," he said.
In addition to Calix Cloud for visibility into home connections that allows technicians to remotely respond, the solution includes Calix EXOS mesh networks. The market opportunity required that ITS Telecom train its customer service representatives on selling smart-home devices and solutions, said Denise Lechner, marketing manager, in an interview.
"We've sold more in two weeks than we sold last year of the old managed WiFi program," Leslie added. "You can't sell a product by knowledge of the product. You've got to understand the product's role."
Ready to Rumble
The ITS Telecom team's knowledge base evolved from cloud to smart homes and, eventually, into telehealth.(Source: ITS Telecom)
Based on its investment in remote monitoring and IoT, coupled with its first disruption -- when it converted its entire facility into a SOC 2 Type 2
data center for its own and business customers' data centers -- ITS Telecom now is in discussions with a hospital to implement a telemedicine service, he said.
The combination of security and its longtime offerings of managed IT, virtual backup and servers, plus traditional solution provider and service provider offerings, combined with its growing comfort with IoT devices that could grow to encompass blood pressure machines, heart-rate monitors and other medical equipment make telehealth a good fit, said Leslie.
"The key and foundation of all of this is getting really good, high-quality whole-home WiFi," he said. "We deliver that."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.