Delivering Premium Broadband without Paying a Premium (Part 1 of 3)

Network operators have plans to support the massive broadband speeds required to fuel current and future innovative applications for homes, businesses and mobile devices – and that plan relies heavily on connecting fiber into buildings.

Conventionally, the telecom access network has been one built upon twisted copper pairs that connect the buildings in which we live and work. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is the vision of every telecom/datacom service provider, but this is a long term goal that requires a large capital investment and significant resource planning.

The vast majority of the expense in upgrading a building or network from copper to fiber is the fiber deployment itself. Digging is labor intensive and expensive. While fiber splicing technics and micro trenching all help reduce the cost per home, geography also plays a significant role.

Europe is filled with historic, cobblestone-laden streets where pulling and trenching fiber means an extra few hundred Euros per fiber-connected home. As a result, many service providers have made the calculated decision to maximize the bandwidth of the buildings’ already-existing copper connection. This explains the relative prevalence of newer digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies being used by all the big telecom operators, especially when compared to North America.

In our next installment, we’ll take a closer look at those DSL technologies, and why they are becoming an important part of a service provider’s FTTH and Gigabit service delivery strategy.
Kurt Raaflaub, a 20-year telecom veteran, has global responsibility for directing ADTRAN’s carrier networks solutions marketing activities.

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VARs Bid and Win with ADTRAN ProCloud Managed Services

Every day I have the privilege of spending time with ADTRAN’s channel partners, listening to their opinions and gathering insights into what they need to make their business more successful. We’re always looking for ways to incorporate their feedback so that we can help them better support their current customers, grow their addressable markets and remain competitive in the marketplace.

ADTRAN ProCloud Managed Services is one of those unique opportunities where we’re able to help our Value Added Reseller (VAR) partners expand beyond offering hardware-only solution portfolios and transform into Managed Service Providers. With a turnkey model and a partner-branded option available in the ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi service, it’s easy for partners to quickly launch reliable cloud-managed services and increase recurring revenue. The service has been enthusiastically received by the partner community with growth nearly doubling quarter over quarter in 2014.

This popularity can be linked to a growing network trend that Nolan Greene, research analyst for IDC, addressed in our recent press release, “With the explosion of mobility and related network applications, demands on enterprise networks continue to intensify. Simultaneously, SMBs, schools, universities and other distributed enterprises are increasingly challenged to provision, troubleshoot and maintain more sophisticated wireless networks with reduced IT staffs. These organizations are looking to offload some of this burden.”

ADTRAN ProCloud turns these challenges into opportunities by simplifying partners’ ability to support reliable, scalable networks. Our VAR partners are now able to significantly increase business within the SMB and enterprise markets, as well as in education, stadiums, retail and other entities that are faced with growing user demand with multiple devices coming onto their networks. ADTRAN’s VAR partners also have the ability to layer industry-specific services, such as security and content filtering, on top of the managed Wi-Fi service to generate additional value and revenue.

Over the next several months, you’ll see us highlight VARs from all over the world launching ADTRAN ProCloud Managed Services. One partner already reaping ProCloud benefits is Valley Business Solutions (VBS). The company is leveraging ProCloud Wi-Fi to achieve a more predictable monthly revenue model, and as a result, has been able to grow its customer base in manufacturing, retail, healthcare and education markets throughout the Tennessee Valley.

One of VBS’ larger installations involves a leading local university. The school’s IT department was responsible for implementing a campus-wide Wi-Fi network, and was looking for an option to outsource the day-to-day operations and management of its dormitory Wi-Fi network. VBS stepped in and offered a managed solution that would free up IT staff to address other projects while meeting resident life’s goals to provide students a wireless experience similar to home.

Alex Dizon, general manager at VBS, commented on the value and benefits that ProCloud delivers: “ADTRAN’s introduction of ProCloud Wi-Fi got us thinking differently about our business and who our customers could be. It created a real opportunity as this offering is applicable to any company, of any size. Now, managed Wi-Fi is the fastest-growing segment of our business. We can now address more types and sizes of businesses while expanding our customer base into new geographical territories. The reality is, we win when we bid ADTRAN ProCloud.”


To learn more about ADTRAN ProCloud and how you can leverage managed services today, visit


Ted Cole is vice president of channel sales for ADTRAN’s Enterprise Networks Division.



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What to do with UC when Employees are Tech-Savvy

This is the converse to my last post, and presents a very different scenario. To be fair, not all your employees will be this way, but let’s just say it’s the majority. While the definition of “tech-savvy” is pretty subjective, for this post, assume this group is generally on par or better than IT. One would assume IT personnel will be tech-savvy by definition, but that could be a highly relative assumption if they are truly old school. They will be savvy in a different way than employees, especially those rooted firmly in the Internet world.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea – comparing these two groups on this basis can be pretty challenging. However, just as your workplace won’t be totally full of tech laggards, it won’t likely be totally full of tech whiz-kids either. The latter may be true if you’re a startup, but that’s not really our audience here.

For this post, I’m focusing on cases where your employees are generally pretty tech-savvy, and you don’t have the basic concerns as if they were generally at the other end of the spectrum. This might warrant the do-nothing approach I’ve been writing about here recently. In other words, you have enough trust to say as little as possible about UC, and let them discover it on their accord. IT may not get any of the glory if they have success with UC, but if this is the best way to drive adoption, so be it.

Can you trust them?

Trust really is at the core of this strategy, since it assumes you know them well enough to believe they’ll get it, and that it’s important to them that you respect them this way. I’m saying “them” a lot here because that’s the main message here. When dealing with tech savvy employees, you need to keep a safe distance, so to speak. Before IP, the shoe was on the other foot, and IT could get away with talking down to employees.  Depending on your company’s history, there may be an adversarial culture that needs to be overcome.

If that’s the case, UC could be a great opportunity to forge a more balanced relationship with employees. As often noted on this blog, more than other new technologies, UC needs end user adoption for success, so you have a valid motive for doing so. After all, if a tech-savvy employee base can’t figure out the charms of UC, nobody will. How often do you get an opportunity to engage with employees on a peer-to-peer level with what is ultimately a common cause?

These end users are well-equipped to get the most out of UC, and that will please both them and management – presuming the benefits go beyond everyday personal productivity. IT, on the other hand, gains more favor with management by showing to have bet right in going with UC. This will be especially important for IT if management was skeptical of UC in the first place, and perhaps even second-guessing IT’s overall value to the business. After all, IT can only keep doing “more with less” for so long.

Knowing when to shift gears

The big challenge for IT is knowing when to shift gears from doing nothing to doing something with these end users. Taking a hands-off approach is fine if they take UC where you want it to go, but if they don’t, this strategy could backfire. If management loses patience, it will be easy to lay the blame with IT simply because you were hands-off, which to them looks like you didn’t have a plan in the first place.

How do you know if, when or how to shift gears? These are the big questions here, and to respond effectively, you need to consider all the dynamics I’ve been touching on. You need to honestly assess IT’s relationship with employees – both those who are tech savvy and otherwise. UC is meant for everyone, and your job isn’t done once the former group gets going with it, even with minimal support from IT.

In fact, that’s just the first step in the UC journey, at least if IT wishes to further cultivate a new-and-improved relationship with your tech savvy employees. Of course, you can choose to treat all employees the same, throw UC out there, and see what happens.

My research tells me there are a few good reasons what that’s not the best approach, especially if you consider that those tech savvy Millennials will soon be the majority, not to mention the up-and-comers gunning for your job. If that’s on your mind, I’ll see you back here week when the analysis continues.

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Managed Wi-Fi Hits a Home Run

America’s favorite pastime just got better, thanks to Frontier Communications. The service provider is leveraging ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi to boost bandwidth and streamline management of an advanced wireless network that can support 11,000 simultaneous connections at the Durham Bulls baseball stadium and the American Tobacco Historic District (ATHD) in Durham, N.C.

In order to deliver premium fan experiences, more and more stadiums across the nation are adopting managed Wi-Fi services. These deployments deliver high-performance, bandwidth-rich connectivity to every visitor, while allowing stadium IT staff to offload wireless network management and focus on other critical elements of the game and fan environment.

Frontier’s managed Wi-Fi service is fed by a 1Gbit/s pipe into Frontier’s core network, and provides connectivity for the Durham Bulls stadium as well as public spaces in the surrounding ATHD area. This bandwidth-rich network enables visitors to access free, fast Internet service. Frontier is also easily able to regulate access to the network to ensure complimentary services aren’t taken advantage of. This includes the options to shut down user access or, more likely, slow down the access to make it less attractive.

Based on ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi, the Durham Bulls community benefits from a managed cloud wireless service that includes 24×7 help desk support for any fan connectivity issues during games. Frontier is able to customize the stadium’s new wireless network to support unique in-game features, particularly the ability to provide live, high-quality replays on mobile devices. This Wi-Fi model will also allow the stadium to monetize new services and applications over time.

“There’s nothing like a game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park,” said Durham Bulls GM Mike Birling in Frontier’s press release announcing the deployment. “With our vastly improved Wi-Fi solution, fans will be able to interact with us on game day like never before. Frontier and ADTRAN really stepped up to the plate with a comprehensive cloud wireless solution, which offloads the network management burden from our limited IT staff.”

In addition to coverage for the Durham Bulls stadium, more than 100 businesses at the American Tobacco Historic District campus are utilizing the improved Wi-Fi capacity to serve restaurant and retail customers, as well as the start-up incubator community at American Tobacco known as the “American Underground.”

Frontier’s Wi-Fi deployment demonstrates how managed Wi-Fi can empower not only athletic parks, entertainment arenas and business communities, but also how the service is a great solution for state and local government, K-12 and higher education, hospitality and more. “Whether you’re a business park, a restaurant or a stadium with 11,000 fans, consumers will have an excellent Wi-Fi experience,” said Dennis Bloss, Frontier’s vice president and area general manager for North Carolina, in the press release.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, you can view a video about the deployment here:


Jason King is the director of marketing for the Bluesocket Business Group at ADTRAN. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he is responsible for the overall promotion and positioning of the company’s Wi-Fi solutions. Find him on Twitter: @jjking24

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What to do with UC when Employees are Laggards

If you were a teacher, which would you rather have – a class full of slow learners, or high achievers? Each group learns very differently, and conventional wisdom would say that each requires a distinct approach to teaching. There’s a lot of truth in that, but for some teachers, the opposite is the right answer. In other words, they would teach each group exactly the same way, with only a few nuances specific to each. Both scenarios can produce great results in the right hands, and it all comes down to the relationship teachers cultivate with their students.

You might dismiss these ideas since reality is never like this – classrooms almost always have a mix of learners, and teachers no doubt are endlessly challenged to cover all the bases. That probably describes your environment in terms what to do with UC, so that’s the level we have to work at. I’m sure there are times when you wish all your employees were Millennials and others when they were just old-school, but it’s more likely you’re surrounded by both.

This is perhaps the biggest thing that UC vendors did not take into account early on, and it’s the basis for many of their challenges to drive market adoption. For the foreseeable future, the workplace will have an evolving mix of digital natives and digital immigrants, and UC has to somehow resonate with both groups. The early UC developers were very much from the analog world, and it’s fair to say their offerings reflected that era. Millennials were not yet the force they are today, and in a few short years their rise has created a different kind of end user that UC vendors weren’t really ready for.

They’ve been scrambling ever since to figure that out, and over the next few years, that gap will close for two reasons. First, Millennials will soon become the majority of the workforce, at which point they will be driving the market more so than the older generations who are leaving the ranks by attrition. Second, Millennials will also become the drivers in the vendor community, making tomorrow’s UC very much of the present. They will move on from legacy applications such as email, telephony, fax, etc., and make UC resonate on a deeper level than what most employees experience today.

What about right now?

Exactly. The above crystal ball exercise tells you what’s coming, but what to do when most of your employees are basically technology laggards? If your company is pretty much all fresh-faced under-30s, there’s no need to read further unless you care to see how everyone else still struggles with the basics.

Most of the companies I come across in my research definitely fit this mold, and while they embrace UC for all the right reasons, they face an uphill struggle in getting the desired results. The do-nothing approach outlined in my recent posts will be risky for this audience, especially if the ROI bar has been set high for UC. They will only self-discover features and applications that fit in their comfort zone, and that may not be enough.

Think back to the student/teacher dynamic above. With this audience, you have to let the learning come from them, from which point you can do some gentle hand-holding to bring them along to the next level. How do you do this? Well, if you are seriously invested making UC a success, you have to be hands-on with employees and provide open channels of communication. Basically, you want them to share their learning with you, and based on the needs of their job, you can then steer them to something new that they can handle and will clearly be beneficial to them. They may never figure this out on their own, but with a light touch, you can teach them in a manner that suits their learning style.

Is this worth it?

Clearly, with an employee pool largely at this level, the learning will be incremental, but with each little success, they will become increasingly empowered. Eventually, the process becomes easier as they’re building on a foundation of knowledge and they’ve come to trust you as an effective enabler. Leaving them alone to sink or swim won’t be effective here, so you need patience and perseverance. You might even want to hire a retired teacher to facilitate the learning process.

There is no magic formula to follow, but you absolutely must establish the kind of relationship that is appropriate to their comfort level with new technology. Once you have that, success is much more contingent on managing that relationship than struggling with the technology. Remember, this is a process, and once you do it with basic UC applications, learning the more complex applications isn’t so hard. Furthermore, UC will never be finished, so as new applications come along, your chances of getting value from them is very much based on the strength of that relationship.

If that seems like too much work, this might not be the right time for UC. The situation is not permanent, as the ascendancy of Millennials ensures that technology laggards will become a shrinking pool of your workforce. So, if you can take on this mantle for what should be a short period of time, you stand to experience some great upside – not just for employee productivity, but also in the trust they have in IT to give them the best tools to do their jobs. That’s a pretty good payoff, and if I were you, I’d take it.

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