Having launched a gigabit broadband service in 2015, GVTC Communications was operating the network equivalent of a Ferrari -- albeit one with what amounted to a rusty, beat-up Volkswagen router and WiFi system as its engine.
That, at least, is how George O'Neal, vice president of Network Operations at GVTC, described the telecom coop's infrastructure during a presentation at Calix ConneXions 2019 in Las Vegas on Monday. After all, the glossy, fiber-laden exterior was then riddled with subscribers' antiquated routers, unmanageable IoT devices and no insight into anything occurring in customers' homes, he said. This led to expensive truck rolls and frustrating -- and sometimes fruitless -- interactions with subscribers who were not getting the service they wanted (or paid for), O'Neal added.
"Often, we'd send a technician out, swap out the old router and hope for the best," he said.
That has changed. After originally considering another vendor's smart-home router and managed WiFi solution, the long-time Calix customer reviewed some of Calix' offerings. Within 45 days, GVTC had gone from signing the contract to a soft launch of Calix EXOS, GigaSpire Blast and cloud-based Subscriber Experience to some customers. It's using the solution to deliver managed WiFi and lay the foundation for additional residential smart-home solutions like security while gathering insight into subscribers' networks to dramatically reduce truck rolls, upsell services and enhance the customer experience.
Cake for Everyone
GVTC celebrated with a cake built to accurately depict a GigaSpire Blast, said George O'Neal.
Although GVTC currently uses GigaSpire Blast for home subscribers, it plans to use the solution -- dubbed GVTC Premium WiFi powered by WiFi 6 -- to extend its reach into more small and midsize businesses -- an important market since GVTC operates outside San Antonio, home to two of the nation's highest growth counties, O'Neal said.
"It has this ability to solve problems, sometimes before they even know it. It equips our technicians with capabilities they've never had before, for example, seeing interference we didn't know even existed. Now, most times we don't need to send a technician," O'Neal said. "Of course, you've got remote speed testing, CAF testing and of course the customer app, where our customers can control their own SSID and password, instead of us assigning them some ridiculously long thing that no one can remember."
Using GigaSpire Blast and System First for GVTC Premium WiFi is so critical to the CSP that all subscribers must have the service, O'Neal told Broadband World News. The savings and customer insights are exponential, he said, without disclosing costs. That meant changes to GVTC's business model, including how it sells managed WiFi and its dealings with customer routers.
"We believe this system -- GigaSpire paired with Support Cloud -- will equip us with the ability to win in the marketplace. Secondly, we can't just put this great system out there with all these capabilities, then allow the customer to just unplug it, throw it in the closet and put their own stuff in as soon as our technician leaves, so we took a very bold step and created what we call our 'System First.' It's a series of network changes so once a customer is provisioned to GigaSpire, that is the only device that can get an IP address," O'Neal said.
Not a Line Item
Managed WiFi is all part of the Premium WiFi service -- and so is the router -- at GVTC, said O'Neal.
If subscribers unplug GigaSpire Blast and replace it with another router, an error message appears and they're asked to put GVTC's gear back in place or call customer service. Managed services also are mandatory and are part of the Internet pricing.
"We feel like when we have such a powerful tool, it's powerful for the customer and powerful to the company that it's no longer optional to buy managed WiFi. When you buy GVTC it comes with our Premium WiFi included," O'Neal said. "This comes hand in hand with our System First as well as to fight doggedly to own the antenna in the home."
In a flurry of activity throughout the week, Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture, and his team spent about $145.8 million in the non-urban or suburban areas of seven states.
Calix reported revenue of $120.19 million – up 4% – in Q4 2019, putting a bounce in the step of company president and CEO Carl Russo and a shine to Calix's ongoing transition from hardware vendor to a provider of platforms enabled by cloud, APIs and subscriber experience.
Looking to curtail e-waste and improve the bottom line, BT will require customers to return routers and set-top boxes, although subscribers will not have to pay a fee when they receive regular broadband equipment.
Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 across its entire footprint gave Rogers Communications the ability to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s,
contributing to a broadband segement that generated about 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (US) in Q4 cable earnings.
It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
Having the insights needed to proactively resolve issues, often before your subscribers even know that there are issues;
Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.