Like MSO rivals Comcast and CenturyLink, tier-three provider Arvig invests in fiber and vies for enterprise business' contracts. With a far smaller budget and team, Arvig uses its investment strategy, service offerings and customer satisfaction scores to woo both subscribers and relationships with larger operators.
The employee-owned broadband provider, whose roots date back to 1950, recently extended its fiber network by more than 350 fiber route miles and directly connected the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area to Omaha, Neb. The goal was to increase diversity and redundancy, and move beyond its Minnesota roots, said David Arvig, vice president and chief operating officer, earlier this month. This was part of a larger deal between Arvig and Windstream in 2018. (See Arvig Extends Fiber Network Throughout Omaha Area.)
Different Speeds for Different Needs
City-based enterprises need fiber-based gigabit broadband, but most rural subscribers garner more than adequate speeds from copper-based infrastructure, says Arvig's Ben Wiechman.
Buying up hundreds of miles of urban fiber places Arvig squarely in competitors' metropolitan territory and further from rural customers, whom Arvig sometimes has to itself. Competition can benefit the smaller operator, Ben Wiechman, director of network strategy and engineering, told Broadband World News.
"It's interesting, when we do market studies of customer satisfaction -- with the same support teams and the same customer-care teams -- we tend to score statistically significantly better in competitive markets where customers have experienced our competition versus non-competitive markets where they feel like we're a monopoly. It's a customer impression, but it's an interesting note," he said. "We focused on hiring experienced sales people who can compare Arvig capabilities to those of typically much larger companies they worked with. We got a lot of good continuity there and that helps us maintain a good relationship with customers, versus Darth Vader companies where sales staff are rotating."
Internal cross-training on products and services, on enhancing existing sales' skills and being selective about the provider's service offerings are also important, said Wiechman. And Arvig also aggressively seeks relationships with large providers that cannot always reach Arvig's rural footprint, for example, he noted.
"If they're looking at carrier Ethernet connectivity for a customer in a metro area, we tried to position ourselves with fiber acquisitions and fiber construction and otherwise to deliver those services on their behalf and actively use them to deliver services to customers that we otherwise would not be able to reach," Wiechman said.
An eye on tech (and budget)
Arvig is heavily investing in fiber, but that does not mean it is -- or plans to soon be -- 100% fiber, Wiechman said. The provider uses a mix of fixed-access broadband solutions, including coax-based VDSL, as well as fiber-based DOCSIS and fixed wireless, he said. Residential subscribers don't need gigabit speeds to use broadband and Arvig can defray capex infrastructure investments over a much longer timeframe, noted Wiechman.
"When we look overall at overall utilization and typical utilization, we feel strongly that customer needs today are met in that 50 to 100-meg tier of service. They will continue to drive that need for bandwidth for consumers, but for the next three to five to potentially seven years, that takes the copper services and pushes fiber deeper to serve copper nodes… and allows us to spread our capital spending for a longer period while continuing to provide a good level of service to customers," he said.
DOCSIS, Wiechman noted, allows Arvig to provide residential subs with high-speed Internet. Full-duplex DOCSIS is not yet part of the operator's plans, but it is "aggressively" deploying D3.1 as a cost-effective way to scale services, he said.
More than a half-million Irish residents expected to have fiber broadband by 2020. But Ireland's National Broadband Plan has not even begun — and government officials today postponed any agreement again.
In a new report and searchable database, Broadband Now discovered fiber is the is the least expensive technology powering subscribers' connections. But the poorest, most rural residents pay the most for connectivity, regardless of underlying infrastructure.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.