EarthLink's Sweet Spot

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

EarthLink's Sweet Spot


I learned a few things at the EarthLink training today in Tampa. EarthLink has 175K business customers and about 3 Million consumers, most of them dial-up customers, providing $20M in free cash flow per month. So of the $1.3B in annual revenue, about $500M is dial-up. ELNK has 4 data centers - Columbia, SC; Rochester, NY; Marlborough, MA; and 55 Marietta.)

The first (or 70+ slides) shows that Pipe is the foundation for Managed Security and other services. However, despite having 28,000 miles of fiber, they don't want to sell transport on it. Even On-Net gets the response that "This is not our sweet spot".

What is the Sweet Spot? As I wrote here, Multi-Location Multi-Access type across LEC's or cablecos.

The partner portal is in development. The customer portal, called myLink, seems cool they way that you can drill done on customer locations in Google Earth and open a trouble ticket.

Agents in the room, called T1 Slingers, asked about DSL, since EarthLink resells ADSL out of 10K end offices through 12 providers. As a resell service, a 1FB is required. And since neither RBOC is really supporting their copper plant and especially not DSL, it leaves the business DSL customer hanging for days when there is an outage. [See my post about Is DSL Done?] 3G/4G wireless backup is my answer for that. There are cool routers that even do it automatically.

The other question centered around T1. "You just are not going to make a living slinging T1's at $400 any more."  PRI's are available east of the Mississippi still, which actually IS an advantage for ELNK. TDM PRI's are still the preferred reliable way to deliver voice to a PBX, especially with alarms, faxes, and elevators.

It was an hour on MPLS. I still find it amazing that almost 9 years after my first MPLS class, we are still presenting the Fundamentals of MPLS. For Agents, it will be about layering on services to the MPLS network. The sticky stuff is value added services.

Retail needs a voice line, some Internet, credit card processing, payroll and data backup. That should actually be a bundle that someone offers. ELNK has the old New Edge AX platform that connects payroll and cc processing to the MPLS Network. Add on a VoIP line and some data backup and there's a bundle. Want to make it stickier? Add network DVR to the service so that those IP surveillance cameras can be viewed from anywhere (and can't be erased locally). Bingo!  (Do you have an opening in Product Management? My resume is here.)

The team mentioned POS, Inventory, HR and Loyalty programs. Do you have those on the AX platform? Those would make some excellent sticky add-ons.

"So we have an Internet T1 service that connects you securely to one of 4 data centers, Mr. Prospect. Do you currently have a payroll service? Are you looking to upgrade your POS? Are you worried about security on your credit card data (PCI compliance)?"

That's where the conversation has to go. Even though the customers just want the access - as cheap as possible - Agents will have to steer the conversation to: applications on top of that access (AOTTA).

So back to MPLS with Type II access. Ethernet is delivered over a Type II DS3 from the LEC. T1 is delivered over the ILEC copper pair. DSL is a resell of the ILEC product offering. Then for outliers to attach to the MPLS network, there is an IPSec GRE tunnel with BYOB (bring your own broadband). Blended Access.

EarthLink is a Sprint MVNO, but it is more for 3G access where there isn't DSL to attached to the MPLS. Also, for the MPLS customers that want to have one bill that included cellular.

Something else I learned: ELNK bought STS because Rolla knew the Mark Amarant, CEO of STS, and STS had a reputation for best practices in on-boarding customers in the Hosted PBX realm. That's smart, because Hosted PBX (like VDI, another product that ELNK is rolling out), requires a detailed on-boarding process from pre-sales through post-sale, including mapping extensions to desktops, extension attributes, handset type, employee training and some on-site installation. EarthLink is not selling Hosted PBX as a stand-alone. You have to buy access from ELNK.

So in summary word of the day: "Blended Access".

Key association: Multi-location multi-access MPLS.

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