I spend many hours talking with executives and senior leadership at all types of broadband service providers—cable companies, ISPs and telcos. I really like to dig in and see what challenges they face, what keeps them up at night and what goals they are driving for and how they want to improve their companies.
For those that have delivered VoIP services for decades, including CLECs, ILECs and cable providers—executives at those companies are facing a changing and challenging landscape for their voice services over the next five years. The market is in a state of flux given regulatory changes, competition from OTT VoIP providers, and a general move to mobile. Voice continues to be an important product to offer customers, but it is not a strategic growth driver of their oveall business. While there are pockets of growth, like SIP trunking and UCaaS, in general the services market is flat to declining.
At the same time, a typical service provider is spending a large portion of their CAPEX and OPEX to continue to operate a complex voice network infrastructure that includes a combination of legacy TDM switches, VoIP softswitches, SBCs, media gateways, voicemail servers, fraud systems, etc. And now they are being asked to rebuild this all again with IMS NFV technology, piece it all together over the next several years and chase a smaller revenue pie.
In general, I summarize the sentiment of the C-Suite to this predicament is below:
CTO: “We built this business on voice and we know how to do it right. But I have other, more important technology projects to fund and drive to completion.”
COO: “Complexity is the enemy. I have too many vendors, patchwork OSS/BSS, and large network and routing inventory to manage. It works, but it is resource intensive and a headache to troubleshoot.”
CMO: “I need new products and features in days/weeks not months/years. I need the same business voice solution in-region and out-of-region and I need a wireless play.”
CFO: “We can’t justify spending any CAPEX on voice network when voice revenue is flat to declining; we need it for broadband, LTE, IoT and other projects. Our voice TCO is out of alignment with our revenues and growth.”
CEO: “We need to focus on our core strategic growth initiatives; is running our own voice network still a strategic imperative?”
This mismatch between need to have voice and the lack of desire in building and maintaining the network is provide significant push for the cloud voice platform. There is an increasing opportunity for service providers to cloud source their voice network to deliver significant savings, simpler operations, excellent service experience and strong product/technology leadership.