The Fall of the CLECs

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

The Fall of the CLECs

With the T1 market being overrun by the cable companies, CLEC's are struggling to find footing. They need to go cloud, but are struggling. It is times like this when they wish they had a brand.

Branding would help them with the next step - or a Vision. However, when you spend all your time selling commodities by saving customers money, the raise to zero eventually arrives. Someone comes along who owns the network - Layer 1 - and who can beat you in a price war (and still profit).

It is in this identity crisis that the CLEC market turns to cloud. They are going about this in the same willy-nilly way they have done everything else. No idea what the customer wants or what their sales force can sell.

The fact that the CLEC's are mainly Bell-Heads trying to sell Net-Head stuff is the other issue. Cloud isn't replacement services. It is Productivity, Efficiency, Business Improvement, Smarter Conversations, mobility, flexibility - and yes even Outcomes, Larry and Dave.

The fact that you are telling the Channel to change, while you continue on your merry way with the exact same folks is chilling and ironic. Why aren't any of you hiring from oracle, SAP, Microsoft??? Instead of Speakeasy and CLEC ABC???

Windstream bought PAETEC, which bought MacLeod, USLEC and CavTel, to no avail. Hmmm.

CenturyLink is picking off tw telecom.

EarthLink and Cbeyond are in the process of re-invention. No results yet, but the road is a long one. Hopefully, they have the runway.

That runway gets shorter as Comcast rolls out Hosted PBX nationwide and to the Channel. Then add Cox and Charter to the mix and it gets even harder for the Channel's favorite players.

When you look at Level3, you see integration issues and massive debt. Sunit Patel is Harry Potter to the Voldemort of debt that they are facing as revenues slip. Comcast is eyeballing Level3, not just for network or government contracts, but the streaming live sports (to mesh with Comcast's NBCU and TV Anywhere) and the CDN to all of the top web destinations. I feel sorry for Netflix and the VoIP Providers. Netflix would have its biggest competitor as its network "partner". OUCH! Level3 probably does VoIP services for 80+% of the industry. The ripple is that is one of the larger L3 customers and servcies Google Voice and Skype. Do you see the butterfly wings here?

If Level3 comes off the map, the disruption to the CLEC, VoIP and Video world is huge. And it would occur at a time when there is already chaos and growing pains.

I think Patel is tired of holding back the black hordes of death/debt. It might be time for a drastic move like BK or acquisition.

The question then for the Channel is What do you do now? Cloud for sure.

The question for the CLEC's that remain are How do you maneuver through this mess?

So much of telecom is built on shifting sands. By that I mean, minutes come and go, so does bandwidth. There is always someone who will sell it cheaper. No Brands were built. No clear differentiation was made. The fall is coming. It made be three years out, but can you refill your revenue buckets in 3 years? Start now.

Final note, the CCA made a comment in a meeting this morning, the Millennials think that Microsoft, Apple or Google are their service providers. To an extent that is true despite the network bill coming from ATT/VZW. If Microsoft adds Skype/Lync to everything, what does that do to the network providers? Utilities -- unless they own it all and meter the heck out of it. Harry's wand can't get you out of this one.

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