The ILEC's were really good at delivering a monopoly TDM-based dial-tone product. And later got very good at T1 and T3. Was that the extent of the research that the old AT&T Labs could provide? DSL, while slower than cable modem service, does provide for good, cheap broadband, despite its limitations in distance and speed.
Now the ILEC's are going Cloud with Terremark, Savvis, and roll your own. This is shocking to me, since I was there in 2001 when BellSouth (and other ILEC's) first attempted data center and e-Commerce. At the time, BellSouth had partners like EMC to deliver the managed servcies and IBM for the data center. But this isn't something they knew how to sell or how to market. Certainly, the market has changed to make it easier to sell, but are the ILEC's the right partner for Cloud?
I look at how they are struggling with declining wireline revenue (and mounting debt). They have been grasping at TV for consumer triple-play; tech support for broadband customers; and managed services. A managed router from AT&T is configured and managed in Singapore! The slight time difference affects support. Plus it is by email mainly.
Is that what Enterprise customers want?
Then I look at the Telecom Subpanel talks on Cybersecurity, in which reps from AT&T, Comcast, Century Link and MetroPCS were featured speakers in front of The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing Wednesday morning on the cybersecurity threat to the nation's communications networks. The hearings are about regulation of security of the communications infrastructure - who will have oversight, what will be required, and the like, to be added to a bill. Like that will help. Sheesh!
And, of course, the carriers do NOT want to be regulated. In fact, CenturyLink is petitioning the FCC to forbear from "dominant carrier regulation and the Computer Inquiry tariffing requirement with respect to its packet-switched and optical transmission services" for those services subject to the regulations. "CenturyLink states that, because of recent mergers, its enterprise broadband services are subject to different regulations depending on which CenturyLink affiliate - Qwest, Embarq, or CenturyTel - previously provided (or didn't provide) those services." Whatever. They do what they want anyway. There isn't any FCC enforcement (of merger conditions or forbearance conditions).
That sentiment brings me back to cybersecurity and regulations. It would be kind of joke really. The FCC took over 10 years to come to grips with VoIP, how would it ever regulate something as fluid as security? And what would enforcement look like? Would it be something like CPNI?
There are over 1000 VoIP providers in the US plus the numerous LEC's, cablecos and cellcos. Does anyone really think that enforcement is a priority at the FCC?
So back to telco cloud services.
On the one hand, I like that Savvis is still Savvis and Terremark is still Terremark (without any telco infection, no offense). In fact, "Savvis is poised to lead in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service in addition to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting," according to Seeking Alpha. Given that every data center company from TELX to QTS have launched Cloud services, not to mention every CLEC, TWC (via Navisite) and most VAR's, would you rather sell IT services from an IT company or IT services from a telco?
The whole "I don't want to be regulated, I don't want to be a common carrier" is fine if you understand that to stop being a monopoly, you have to stop acting like one! You HAVE to provide customer service. You can't finger point when handling Managed Services or Cloud Services. You have to ANSWERS to solve problems for your customers.
I think that Cloud is going to be a bust for telcos, in general. They have been the pipe, the plumbers, for so long -- and even if you want to reach up to Layer 7 (to grab the money) doesn't mean you have the ability or will be able to deliver on it. Going into cellular was just another Layer 1 project.
Let me point out a few things. Many fiber companies (or divisions) can't find or price out their fiber. A cellco has mismanaged its network to the point of disrupting users and its 4G future. An ILEC has done such a poor job planning Metro Ethernet that it has run out of VLAN's in two major metros!
Cloud may turn out like FTTH and Telco TV: an investment that didn't work out. Or it may work out despite what I think will be glaring holes.