Unless you’ve been living under a rock (where there is no high-speed internet access, we assume) you’ve undoubtedly been hearing about the gigabit revolution taking place across the country. Across the country from Silicon Valley to rural Southwest, people are demanding not only faster broadband, but also very fast upload and download speeds.
A recent survey found that nearly 22.6 million homes across America are now passed by a fiber connection. Google seemed to catalyze some of this trend as they announced their Fiber challenge; a marketing contest aimed at cities and towns across America, where the winner would receive specialized high-speed internet. Kansas City, KS took home first place, and now enjoys affordable, blazing-fast internet speeds in their homes and offices. Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative (GVTC) in South-Central Texas is making a similar move, aiming to roll out gigabit technology to their expansive customer base, which contains thousands of customers and several large cities.
So what did Kansas City offer that made them the best candidate for the Fiber rollout? “Kansas City has great infrastructure. And Kansas has a great, business-friendly environment for us to deploy a service. The utility here has all kinds of conduit in it that avoids us having to tear the streets open and a bunch of other stuff that really differentiates it from other places in the country,” said Milo Medin, Google’s VP of Access Services. Now with over $200 million in private investments being made to fuel the gigabit race, what are the next steps for those in the telecommunications industry, and how can we make this trend work to our advantage?
First and foremost, offering gigabit services makes service-providers look good, as there is a frenzied land-grab taking place with marketing mind-share. Providers who have not yet considered doing so should consider the case for a gigabit rollout [link to other blog article], and do it soon. While the term “gigabit internet” is flooding every major tech blog, magazine, and trend-watch page, a trend—by definition—will soon either die or become the norm.
As anyone in the telecom industry knows, very rarely does a one-size-fits-all solution work for their customer base; every family, business, hospital, and campus will have their own unique needs and will be impatient when it comes to getting the service they need. That being said, gigabit internet will bring potentially thousands of new jobs to the telecommunications space as customer service gets increasingly complex and specialized. The more connected a client is, the more engaged they will be in their service arrangements—catering to these customers’ needs in a timely manner will translate to less customer churn year after year.
Gigabit mania is coinciding with an uptick in economic growth, which brings additional benefits and challenges—plan on seeing an increased demand for more specialized services, cloud services, and support for the ever-growing list of Internet of Things technologies (Apple SmartWatch, anyone?) The new role of the telecom provider will be “Ambassador to the Gigabit Universe.” Customer service will be important like never before, as customers will need guidance on connecting their shiny new things to the gigabit universe. By acting as an Ambassador, telcos and service providers will build customer relationships and rapport, which will reinforce customer retention and increase the likelihood that the customer will come to them for future needs. Throughout the next several years, customers will have more and more telecommunications options—relationships are key.
The gigabit rollout is not something to worry about or fear… the more telecommunications providers know about the gigabit space, the better prepared they will be to serve the changing needs of their customers. For more information about how gigabit internet is changing the industry, see our other gigabit blog posts!