Brownfield, Rural Electric Cooperative (REC)
Softswitch Replacement, Replace Hosted VoIP, Fiber Buildout
SIP Trunking and Cloud PBX
Elevate Fiber is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) with more than 36,000 electric meters served and more than 12,600 broadband subscribers. Elevate Fiber’s vision is to provide quality broadband service to every community within their electric service footprint across Delta and Montrose counties in Colorado.
The start of their telecom journey began in 2015 when “membership rose up and asked the co-op to get into the internet services business as a solution to get quality broadband at an affordable price.”
Initially, Elevate Fiber implemented a Class 5 softswitch from Metaswitch; however, it did not provide the desired operational simplicity, which lead Elevate Fiber to work with local voice provider VERO Broadband (also known as FORETHOUGHT.net) for end-office trunking and interconnects. “Tandem trunking connectivity and direct-end-office trunking gets very expensive and unruly to properly size and maintain.”
As Elevate Fiber rolled out voice to their subscribers, the complexity, high maintenance costs, and support agreement expenses quickly became unsustainable.
Elevate Fiber was at a crossroads and needed to make a timely decision between reconstructing their network to “build it out right” or “find a white label service provider.” Their largest recurring expense was $35,000 per year for maintenance and support agreements to provide telephone service to only 2,000 subscribers, which “didn’t make a whole lot of financial sense,” said Kent Blackwell, Chief Technology Officer at Elevate Fiber.
In search for a white label provider, “a big driver for change was cost stability.” Elevate Fiber was looking for a solution that would help them resolve the following:
Elevate Fiber owned their softswitch solution and assets, and “with that ownership came maintenance expenses [and enhancement costs] if we were going to continue to be competitive.”
Maintaining a Class 5 end office meant interconnecting with each of the tandems and other regional end offices with physical trunk connections which “reduced our margins . . . and made it a failing business case pretty quick.”
Their softswitch licensing, cost of ownership, public switched telephone network (PSTN) connectivity, and maintenance costs were “not easily absorbed within a respectable retail rate,” said Kent Blackwell.
In searching for a voice and trunking solution, Elevate Fiber considered regional service provider solutions as well as nationwide vendors; however, it was Alianza’s extensive experience in successfully migrating providers that won over Elevate.
From the beginning, Alianza’s Customer Enablement and leadership teams were very approachable. “If we ever have a problem, I am able to reach out and get to the right people to help us address the issue,” said Kent Blackwell, Chief Technology Officer at Elevate Fiber.
Solutions Made Simple. Alianza’s Cloud PBX, a simple solution for small businesses with analog phones and key systems, “has been key for us being able to maintain a place in our market.”
Pricing Predictability. Alianza’s cloud SaaS model is designed with the service provider’s bottom line in mind. “In the 3 years [with Alianza] we’ve not overrun our budget one time.”
“The biggest benefit a retail customer can have is their own price stability and predictability, [knowing] they can use the service any way they want, and their monthly bill isn’t going to jump. “
“The quality of the [Alianza] service, with the uptime reliability and the call quality that consumers expect, has allowed us to sustain a 16% take rate, which is fairly unique in the telecom industry as cord-cutting has become so wide-spread.”
Alianza had “established themselves as an industry name . . . and were providing quality services for a number of [service providers].” Elevate Fiber’s CTO understood “it takes a lot of planning and prior experience to know how to [successfully] mitigate the pitfalls.”
“The cry from our membership [regarding local voice services] was poor quality. Nothing was dependable, the customer service was poor, the prices were high,” Once they implemented Alianza’s solution, members received “quality services that they could depend on.”
To exceed customer expectations and deliver great customer experiences, you need to take a thoughtful approach to selecting digital technology. Your solution should be built with features that appeal to consumer’s digital driven lifestyle.
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