Someone needs to teach the dinosaur telcos how to drive the new network


Someone needs to teach the dinosaur telcos how to drive the new network

I’ve always believed you need to stand apart and differentiate yourself to succeed in business.

To differentiate yourself in business means anticipating where the market is going and making calculated moves, early. Some call it risk taking. Sadly, Australia’s traditional telcos don’t do it well, if at all.

Personally, I’ve always sought challenger roles. I think what I like most about challenger roles is the sharp focus on driving new technology and delivering improved service.

Challenger brands are the ones who disrupt and innovate. They adopt new technology faster; design it; communicate it; engage with the market on it better. They increase competition and consequently drag forward the whole industry.

Twenty years ago, I was at Uecomm when it became the first carrier in Australia to offer Ethernet WANs to Australian businesses. That technology brought businesses better performance and flexibility compared to other broadband access methods, at dramatically lower cost.

Optus acquired Uecomm and we had to operate under a very different risk approach. Engineers were schooled that new technology had to be operationally running across the world somewhere for two years before it could be considered.

This isn’t unusual for large, established telcos. They adopt technology when it's generally accepted and used by many others, which is always a problem: they react to the market rather than drive change to create a new one.

That’s the reason I like to work for market challengers. Generally, they see the change and opportunity, accept it and apply technology to it earlier than the incumbents.

A generational shift in network technology

Two significant market forces recently converged: the rise of the cloud and the rollout of the nbn.

The cloud is now the network and, as I wrote in my last article, it needs securing in new ways. And thanks to the nbn, the playing field has levelled.

Businesses are now widely leveraging fractional ownership of cloud applications on SaaS models, while also taking advantage of competition among nbn providers to get the best value service.

The impact of these forces on the market is profound. It’s opened up what we at Superloop call an ‘Ideas Meritocracy’ – something Australia desperately needs.

Businesses used to be locked-in to whoever had a shiny piece of glass in their building. Now, with the availability of nbn business fibre, they have not only choice, with shorter contract terms but the ability to change providers without expensive transition costs.

“Businesses now need to make sure they get better service as a result of that choice. Otherwise it’s like having a new car but not being able to drive it – what’s the point?”

Technology without good service isn’t the answer

New nbn business fibre options need complimentary services.

That’s why new challenger brands, like Superloop, have designed their systems and processes to compliment the nbn, and maximize the benefits of new technology.

For the dinosaurs with mountains of complexity, to provision an nbn service they have to glue together an incredible number of different systems, many not integrated, and call on an inordinate amount of support, just to make it work.

“We can simply drive the network with much greater ease and ability.”

If a business wants to open a new store, for example, they need to be able to do it at a speed they haven’t in the past. The pandemic has thrown planning cycles out the window altogether. With SD-WAN, and a service provider geared to support that technology, businesses can plug in their SD-WAN device and it will boot up, authenticate and go live without them having to do anything but enter a pin.

“That’s network technology that’s there for you, on the fly.”

Meanwhile the dinosaurs are still failing the driver’s test.

It’s not in their interests to engage customers around new options at the expense of their own legacy connectivity infrastructure that they've invested billions of dollars in and set up all the mechanics to service. It just breaks their heart! They don’t want to do it, they can’t. Sadly, that also strains their ability to innovate, disrupt or differentiate.

No matter how they bundle it, they overcharge and under-serve customers.

A modern network is an agile one

Six months into my role at a nimble challenger brand that’s under 5 years old,  I’m energised by what we can do for customers.

Part of the family of businesses founded by technology entrepreneur Bevan Slattery, innovation is in Superloop’s DNA. Bevan’s approach to applying new technology to the benefit of Australian businesses has created vibrant new organisations in telecommunications, data centres and global sub-sea networks. He continues to inspire us to be a great challenger to the established telcos.

With that appetite for innovation and a trusted owned, open network that’s scalable and cloud-ready, the future is exciting.

Market appetite is changing too. More businesses are now well informed about SD-WAN. Many are now thinking about the next generation of it (SASE), and the benefits of these technologies are becoming more widely known as others adopt them.

At Superloop, we want to help Australian businesses understand those technology options and leverage them with certainty.

“A modern network is an agile one: one that enables businesses to quickly adapt to and take advantage of business disruption. One that doesn't require a 300 page user manual to make the car work and accelerate. One that’s flexible, reliable and ready to drive technologies of the future.”

Australian businesses deserve that, and finally, they have a choice. What they do with that choice is up to them.