No Carrier Is an Island

Posted: 08/2000

The Letter

No Carrier Is an Island

A n identifiable shift is occurring in the way business is conducted today, EDS
( chairman and CEO Dick Brown said during his keynote address at the June
SUPERCOMM 2000 in Atlanta.

“Communities of companies will triumph over individual companies,” Brown says, reasoning the customer experience is no longer owned by a single entity. “All parties are collectively responsible for owning the customer–and [all are] accountable for the experience.”

Further, he says that companies now must rely on and entrust their customers to others, and, therefore, collaborate with competitors.

This environment of “co-opetition” is not new to competitive telecom service providers, which during the last two decades have relied heavily on the networks and applications their competitors have developed. For the past eight years, it has been the reason for this magazine.

I would not disagree with Mr. Brown, but to say that the practice is ever more pervasive and important for service providers to succeed. The reason, put simply, is that the pace of technological change and geographic expansion is too great to be mastered by a carrier alone.

The carrier’s carrier and the wholesaler long have sustained the businesses of their carrier and reseller customers by giving them an instant footprint in markets where they don’t have infrastructure or, in the case of a switchless reseller, even nationwide.

Now, the urgent circumstance of today’s global communications market has given rise to many novel business models wherein companies, such as GRIC Communications Inc.
( and ITXC Corp. (, have created alliance networks based on the age-old idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Members of these alliances have access to global termination and technological innovation in a much quicker and economical fashion than they could ever achieve on their own.

Another example is Universal Access Inc.
(, which is a carrier-neutral aggregator of transport, monitoring circuit availability from more than 60 transport providers and stitching them together to form ubiquitous networks for its carrier customers.

While allowing them greater reach, these solutions also provide carriage using the latest packet-based
protocols, which carriers
are admittedly scrambling to deploy.

This technological shift, I believe, will present a greater need for collaboration among competitors as consumers seek applications made possible by packetized voice, data and video. The cooperation will extend beyond the network to provisioning of applications. As PHONE+ learned in its research on wholesale communications ASPs, the “not invented here” mentality is giving way under the weighty requirement to deliver state-of-the-art services … yesterday.

Khali Henderson


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