By Sam Dunning
Let me begin by sharing a strong allegory that was once imparted to me by a Presbyterian minister in Jamaica. He talked about the Swiss watchmakers who made the finest timepieces in the world. They had no rivals, and their timepieces, marvels of springs and cogs, were industry leaders. Along came something called quartz movement. Cheaper, more durable, and often more reliable than traditional clockwork, it was the key to a whole new market share. In fact, the first ever quartz analog wristwatch was developed in Switzerland. Still, many of the Swiss watchmakers saw the technology as simplistic and crass.
Along came a Japanese company called Seiko. They released the world's first mass-produced quartz wristwatch in 1969 and became a leader in the industry. Quartz movement spent decades taking over vast segments of the market. The Swiss watchmakers still had a market, as there is always a market for quality, but missed another boat. Why? Because the Swiss made a mistake. They thought they were in the business of springs and cogs. They were really in the business of telling time.
Stories like this can be found all over. Train manufacturers who ignored the coming automobile revolution. Sailing ship makers who considered steamboats a fad until they were dominated by them. There are many more examples.
We're at a pretty critical time for a lot of CSPs. It's time to decide what business we're in and go for it. Otherwise, we may all be left behind or sent to a niche to remain, bitter and bruised, talking about the glory days when everything was done their way. Allow me to preface the following list by saying that I am not an engineer. I am not a network architect. I'm a know-it-all journalist who hears what goes on in the industry and among customers, which puts me in the position to say way more than I should. Having said that, these ideas are meant to stir conversation, so they may be a touch controversial. I welcome that.
Number 1: Cable needs to get its act together, in terms of QoS.
This stuff is difficult. Anecdotal evidence makes things seem worse than they are. Still, I don't know a single person who doesn't have a history of problems with their cable service. A lot of these cable companies are outsourcing in order to meet demand, and the techs aren't always up to snuff. There, of course, was the instance of a Comcast tech falling asleep on the couch of a subscriber while he waited for help from the call center.
Speaking of call centers, Comcast had some sticky allegations to deal with last year when consumerist.com posted a blog on the