In this age of rapid technology innovation, the old saying that the one true constant is change has never been more relevant. In fact, today, we could probably say that the one true constant is rapid change.
Keeping smaller independent telephone companies competitive in a world that’s rapidly changing can be a significant challenge. The pace of change today can be daunting, even debilitating, for independent telephone companies.
Rural telephone companies in particular have to find new ways to make money. Revenue models they have depended on, such as access charges and other regulatory-type revenues, will become less prevalent over time. New areas of revenue will be needed to offset these expected reductions.
More worrisome, telecommunications companies are going after each other’s customers. No matter your coverage area, you will face greater incursion from the competition—this may not be happening to you now, but it will.
For the Rural Telco, a Reality Check
Rural telephone companies need to consider their planning options, and they need to take well-defined steps to survive. In order to do so, they must face these facts of the telecommunications business:
- Traditional TDM switches are on their way out as soft switches replace them.
- Traditional voice calls are being replaced with SIP and voice over IP (VoIP) calls.
- Data, lots of it, is changing the business world.
For a rural telco, an IP voice solution is a sustainable model to help offset the encroachment of cable companies and large telephone companies. Not only does IP telephony allow you to offer businesses of all sizes an opportunity to reduce costs, it allows you to take on more digital business options and to offer services to other geographical markets.
IP telephony provides opportunities for smaller telephone companies to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The larger players are in a position to take your customers away from you, but you have a chance with SIP and IP calling to fend them off, and even to make a move into their markets
Wholesale IP: It Makes Sense
You may find yourself in the position of helping your rural telco transition to IP telephony. No doubt, this is a sea change for a smaller telephone provider, and implementation will require a well-considered plan.
Using wholesale IP from an experienced provider is your best bet. There are some important issues to consider before you make a decision:
- Only use a wholesale IP provider that has been operating in this sector for some time and can easily implement the technology. Experience is extremely important.
- Next, ask questions about best practices the provider has in place to replace your old technology and revenue model. Ask hard questions, and ask for customer references.
IP telephony may be different from what has been done in the past, but it is here to stay. Companies of all sizes and all locations are turning to it to help their businesses. For the small telephone company, this is the time to make the most of the opportunity.