Just nine days ago, we asked whether Windstream, a company with relatively simple service models could succeed without consolidating its many billing systems. The backdrop for this story is the debate regarding Telcos’ future; must they move up the value chain, or can they thrive as commodity businesses? Windstream is our test case for the commodity play, thus we’ve noted with interest its Carrier Ethernet expansion announcement this week.
The announcement states:
“Carrier Switched Ethernet provides wholesale carriers access to both ILEC and CLEC exchanges within the Windstream network. With the solution, interconnect ports of 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps are available, and end user loops from 3 Mbps to 1 Gbps are supported.”
Is that commodity enough for you? This is about as raw of a connectivity service as a Telco can provide. Sure, Windstream spices it up a bit, talking about how greater bandwidth supports video and high-resolution image transfers. Ultimately, however, this is a service underlying other operators’ underlying broadband services. It’s essentially two degrees of separation away from the user. It’s critical – no doubt. You can’t enjoy YouTube or Instragram if the underlying connectivity doesn’t work. But from a billing perspective, this about as simple as it gets.
There’s no reason that a decade-or-so old biller can’t bill for this kind of service more than adequately. So, we will continue to watch whether Windstream can thrive by keeping it’s product model simple, amortizing the heck out of long-stand IT investments, and avoiding the dreaded integration tax.