ADTRAN remains steadily focused on broadband access solutions and services, even while many competitors offer widening arrays of products, says company Chairman and CEO Tom Stanton. However, ADTRAN is expanding its reach into new territories, operators and client mix.
Stanton sat down with Broadband World News for a one-on-one interview at the company's recent ADTRAN Connect conference for journalists, analysts and providers.
The year began well for ADTRAN, especially compared with the first half of 2018, Stanton said. The upturn is due in part to ADTRAN winning business from new providers and new categories of operators -- municipalities, coops and utilities, as well as startup operators -- now designing and building infrastructure, supplying dark and lit broadband and offering gigabit broadband. ADTRAN is extended its MSO business, Stanton said, despite some continued spending slowdowns related to mergers and acquisitions. (See Cincinnati Telecom Seals Deal on Hawaii's Treasures: Fiber, Cloud, IT.)
ADTRAN often provides professional services and plays the role of trusted adviser partner for smaller and non-traditional operators, who often have smaller internal IT and infrastructure staff, and for utilities, who are well equipped and experienced in cable and fiber-laying, but lack other skills, Stanton said. And, geographically, ADTRAN's investments outside North America are paying off, especially in Europe and Australia, he noted. A longtime NBN supplier, ADTRAN also signed a deal with Australian wholesaler OptiComm, which specializes in green-field smart city infrastructure.
Last week, ADTRAN invited about 150 providers, as well as approximately 30 researchers and reporters, to its Huntsville, Ala., headquarters to share its vision, history and several product announcements. It was a time to meet corporate and operator executives, and hear from ADTRAN Chairman and CEO Tom Stanton during a "fireside chat" in the vendor's penthouse meeting space. CEO since 2005, chairman since 2007, Stanton later met with Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana for a one-on-one interview in his office.
An Open Book on Open Source
ADTRAN is a member of multiple open source, standards-focused organizations and has been a long-time advocate of the move away from proprietary, closed systems, Chairman and CEO Tom Stanton told researchers and reporters.
What follows is an edited version of that conversation, which touched on greenfield opportunities, why it's raining money on providers and -- of course -- Verizon and NG-PON2...
Broadband World News: What are municipalities, coops and utilities looking for from ADTRAN and other vendors, given that in many cases they are new to broadband?
Tom Stanton:: I think municipalities are looking for you to be very competitive. You can't be above the norm on pricing. But I think what's [perhaps] more important to them is they can't make a mistake. If, say an AT&T launches into some product initiative and you get to the lab and then they decide, "Oh, this is a bad idea," you never hear about it. But if a municipality does that, it's all over the local press. Everybody's upset. It's a very bad thing. I think what's more important to them is having the assurance that you're going to be able to carry through on what you deliver and you're going to be able to help them in areas where they're deficient because they don't have a history of running a network. And that gets right into your services, the software tools you're able to offer them, and in the hand-holding you can do where they need it -- which is probably more important than the cost.
BBWN: And are we at a time in adoption and knowledge where utilities or muni customers recognize they need the services and they added value?
TS: If you can go in there and show expertise, show some value-add either in the services or the knowledge that you bring to it or the commitment that you're going to bring -- which is all a lot more important than maybe people realize. But if they can see you and trust you then they're probably going to want to work with you. They've got to make the numbers work, too.
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