By Mark Carlin, VP Sales Americas
So I attended the Competitive Carriers Association Convention a few weeks ago. I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet our customers, partners and maybe even recruit a few new ones. The show was in Las Vegas, a nice place and fairly easy to get to. The convention started out with a golf event on Sunday. Always a great place to meet people but I don’t always play my best golf. This year I decided to bring my own clubs out in the hope that it would make a difference. You can’t be concerned about your golf game when you’re trying to get to know new people. It helped but not as much as I had hoped. As I said, golf is a great way to get to know someone because you have 4 plus hours with them and as long as you do not have to worry about your game you can focus on getting to know the people. Having my own clubs helped the most on the back 9 after having a few drinks. When the alcohol kicked in it was nice to know which club to choose.
The keynote this year was Neville Ray, CTO, T-Mobile US and I was looking forward to hearing what he has to say. He talked about maintaining both the T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands and expanding the MetroPCS brand and coverage all over the US. He also talked about their recent marketing activities called the Un-carrier. In their UnCarrier 1.0 ad push they talked about simple choice, simple pricing, unlimited data and no annual contracts. In UnCarrier 2.0 ad they talked about upgrading when you want. Today T-Mobile will be unveiling their 3rd phase of UnCarrier at a ticketed even in New York City’s Bryant Park headline by celebrity spokesperson and international pop star, Shakira. Also Mignon Clyburn Acting FCC chairwomen talked about the recent decision to restore the interoperability to the 700 MHZ band which basically gives the small carriers the ability to roam on AT&T and purchase the newest devices. She said she is now going to push for unlocking devices.
Like previous years, CCAC had good quality sessions to attend. And since I have over a dozen customers that attend I always see at least one in each session. This year was no different I met with executives of Interop Technology,Syniverse, ClearSky and iSelectMD along with people from Carolina West Wireless and Inland Cellular.
Of the people I contacted only about half said they were going, so I was a little disappointed but still felt it was well worth the trip. I was looking forward to introducing our new IP and secure products to the companies I would meet and thought there were several areas on which I could focus on when talking to them. My thinking was that they were all feeling the pain of losing enterprise business to the bigger carriers so introducing them to our Gateway, IP and Secure products could be the differentiator they need to keep the ones they still have. Also our Text to Landline solution as a premium could help them generate more messaging revenue as it is surely declining. I did get a chance to review this with prospects and current customers and although the secure product generated the most interest my feeling was that we need to focus more on carriers that have a strong enterprise focus.
After the CCA convention and in the same week I carried on to attend the TC3: Telecom Council Carrier Connections Summit for the first time which was held in Sunnyvale, CA. I was not sure what to expect but there seemed to be some good companies and people attending. I met with several different executives from Syniverse and was able to better understand their current structure of who does what. This will hopefully lead to several additional meeting in the coming weeks.
The show itself was well organized and the first day had companies doing 5 minute pitches for funding or pitches to the carriers. There were by far more hardware based companies than software. There was also a session for award winners of the SPIFFY awards (best companies over the past year). The second day was when the carriers told the audience what was important to them. This was very interesting. There seemed to me more ROW carriers than US; JT, Telenor, BT, KDDI, UNIFI, Verizon, Rogers, SMART, Telecom Italia, Deutsche TeleKom and Sprint presented. I was able to meet people from Sprint, Rogers and Verizon.
All in all, both shows had a lot to offer and besides connecting with industry peers, I was able to gain a few new insights into our ever changing and adapting industry.