Home > CDNTech, Digital Policy, Telecommunications > How to Make our Indie Telecom Providers Competitive

How to Make our Indie Telecom Providers Competitive

This is a continuation of my last post on Why The Government Will Only Make Cosmetic Changes To Telecom.

I’ve been highly critical of all in the telecom industry over the past several months, primarily with indie telecom providers.  I used to sit in the board room of one indie provider when the government first fragmented the telecom monopoly the last time around, so I know the challenges faced by indie providers when it comes to our regulatory frame work, and have had to deal with this as an advocate, only to see the CRTC lightly tap the wrist of Rogers and Bell for not following through with telecom policy.  Essentially there has been a brick wall that’s in place through our regulatory system at the CRTC that will most likely not bring in any significant changes (nor will government) to ensure the survival of Canadian indie telecom providers.

Openmedia is being sold to the public as a grass roots fight for the little guy organization.  In fact what it’s really doing on the telecom front is providing a regulatory lobby for the indie telecom providers, with the help of public donations.  Their mandate essentially is to assist in bringing in more telecommunications competition, however is doing it in a why that will not be successful in ensuring their mandate is fulfilled.  Essentially they keep chipping away at this brick wall in which the indie telecom providers have for almost 20 years, with very little to show for it in the form of actual meaningful competitive environment.  There is only so many times when you can blame Bell, Rogers, Government or the CRTC for these problems before it hits home and you are left in the dust.  The UBB issue was only an annoyance to Bell and Rogers, and didn’t alter the telecom landscape in a significant way to produce  meaningful changes to our telecom sector that is very badly needed right now in the form of greater competition.

Essentially Openmedia can only provide very small inroads for consumers in the regulatory process.  The ideology that simply chipping away at this great brick wall, that the wall will eventually come down has had almost 20 years experience in failing, and the time for the indie providers in Canada is limited as a result of failing to innovate, and follow market demands.  Taking over grass roots organizations to essentially help in fighting Bell, Rogers, Telus, Government and the CRTC in the regulatory system, hasn’t produced substantive changes to competition in the telecom landscape that’s current needed to ensure indie survival. Basically all of the small victories haven’t produced much and only extended the life line of our indies in inches rather than in miles.

There’s an old saying that if you hit a brick wall, you go around it.  All Openmedia is doing on behalf of indie providers is continuing to hit their heads on this brick wall, without breaking through.  That’s a continuation of almost 20 years of failed business practices by the indie providers, and will continue to fail, due to the reasons on my last post on this.

If my projections are correct, the indie market will be consolidated within the next 5 years, and gobbled up by the artificial monopoly we have in place now.  The indie telecom market hasn’t stepped up to the plate in figuring out a way to be competitive in today’s marketplace outside of telecom.  Internet and mobile providers roll has changed in the past 6 years, and our indie providers need to be on top of that and in front of that change, rather than following the rest of the pack.  What I’m about to propose is essentially one idea of many that should be thought of by at the board rooms of these indie internet providers.  They now have an obligation to Canadians and to their own investors to step forward and walk around the brick wall of the CRTC.  Indie board rooms need to start developing out of the box thinking to compete in their new roles in digital media.

The digital revolution has essentially split the old monopolies in the media industry.  The video industry is still going through this change, however the music industry in Canada is primary indie.  Just as the indie telecom providers hate the telecom monopoly we have now is as much as the indie music producers hate the old monopoly in the music industry.  Some of these indie musicians are big names in the industry and make up the majority of musicians in Canada.

Rogers recently is picking up major distribution rights from the major production studios to form it’s version of netflix.  Some indie providers have followed suit with netflix like services.  Music is next. Internet providers offer a very good and direct way of distribution for the content industries.  The major labels and producers essentially will be doing business with the major internet providers.  This essentially will give the upper hand in the media industry to big content providers. Smaller producers and musicians as a result will have much harder time breaking into that market since essentially the big labels will own and direct distribution to the big providers.  This is an expected competitive move by content producers to try and consolidate the media industry again.  Internet providers are slowly turning into media distribution companies.

The Indie telecom market needs to start learning and innovating around the media industry in order to become competitive.  This could mean, not just providing a distribution channel for content providers, but may also include handling things such as media promotions for content producers, concerts, sponsored media events, even getting into media representation.  Essentially they need to become a one stop shop for media (both in the consumer market, and within the content industries), and make inroads into the media industry and start learning now. Bell, and Rogers are both media distributors, yet the indie telecom market in all this time has done very little in learning how to compete in this market.  As a result, both Bell and Rogers have a very huge competitive edge over our indies right now, and within the next 3 years if the indie telecom market doesn’t start looking outside of telecom in a meaningful and competitive way, I predict indie providers will start folding and closing their doors.  They are going to start loosing money fast.  Most in the indie board rooms probably know this, however due to the lag in predicting where the media market is heading by the CEO’s, they are far behind on this and they need to start innovating in the media market fast.

Other ways of innovating for the indie telecom market could also include mobile app and game development offering secure open source communications through mobile devices along with targeted adverting (no choice Bell has gone that way).  Business and enterprise app and software development offered exclusively to clients that sign up to the ISP.  The list of brainstorming can go on here, but right now it’s important for our indie CEO’s to start brain storming and transforming their companies.  They have very little time left to do so.


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