Jason R. Mills, president and CEO of Utility Telephone, Inc., recently discussed some of the popular service trends appearing within the communications industry with a TMC (News - Alert) representative.
Their conversation is as follows:
TMC Representative: What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?
Mills: Clearly, the most significant trend is the migration to VoIP, in all its forms and functions. I think a less obvious impact is the shift in who business owners trust for answers to their telecommunications questions. Historically, customers worked with an expert in voice phone systems, the Interconnect Company. Those companies are either becoming extinct, or transforming themselves into I.T. professionals, and in some cases IT professionals have tried to add voice to their repertoire, and a fundamental mistake they make is trying to handle voice and voice phone system configurations like any other application running over their Local Area Networks, and it takes a lot more than that to keep customers happy and be successful.
TMC Representative: What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?
Mills: Service. Customers need to have their questions answered and their problems solved. It’s very difficult to do that without a local, direct relationship with a professional, multi-employee firm. Anyone in this industry who has developed good customer service has a customer for life.
TMC Representative: How is your company leveraging the growth of social media to enhance your own business?
Mills: It’s good to see and be seen, but I don’t know of any telecom decision-maker who buys based on your Facebook (News - Alert) page. It’s like most advertising; it’s more about brand awareness than coupon-cutting, which I consider the most direct, measurable advertising. The best thing about social media is that it is mostly free to experiment and get going. I would highly recommend getting going and make a few mistakes. Once you start, you have to keep your pages updated with new information, or people will feel you’ve given up on the channel and they lose interest.
TMC Representative: Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs. Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?
Mills: Wideband voice is a great feature, but it will only become relevant when all the inter-carrier traffic is also supporting it. At the point it becomes relevant, it will also become a must-have, a basic need; so be prepared to either support it, or start losing deals to those who do.
TMC Representative: What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?
Mills: I’m scared to death people will try to do it while driving. And I can’t imagine a 4 or 6-way mobile conference on a 3-inch screen. Also, I think that all video-conferencing will soon have make-up software and DSP processing of our face-shading and skin surfaces as standard equipment as our obsession with vanity moves into the boardroom, and onto the desktop and palmtop. You won’t’ want to call an ugly person, will you?
TMC Representative: Which wireless operating system (Android, iOS4, Microsoft (News - Alert), etc.) will see the greatest success over the next three years? Why?
Mills: The one that doesn’t crash and has the best battery life. I think that it’s still anyone’s game, but Apple has the best user interface and it works in corporate (read: Exchange) right out of the box, something RIM refuses to implement so far. Microsoft is a lost cause in its current form, as I see it. You would never get me to carry a Microsoft Mobile PC after buying 4 devices over the last 12 years that were awful.
TMC Representative: Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Mills: There will still be a place for wired networks, even if it is to feed the access points. Why is it that everyone wants to be the first to proclaim the “death” of some technology every time a new one comes out? These new ones just continue to complement and enhance the existing ones. We’re getting broader and wider, filling the edges and crevices, not jumping chasms that were left vacant. Revolutionary devices tend to sneak up on us, like the iPhone in enterprise or Netfilx downloads. Netflix is 10 years old, but we thought on-demand would have completely taken over the planet within 5 years of the Telecom Act, but it’s only now finally putting Blockbuster out of business after being slyly integrated into televisions and Blu-Ray players. We could have had that 8 years ago, and the broadband pipes would’ve carried it even back then. It takes a really good combination of technology, marketing and customer acceptance before you can use the word “replaced” like we do for typewriters.
TMC Representative: What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?
Mills: We created and launched our own server-based web-hosting and cloud-computing SAAS subsidiary. That’s how highly we think of it.
TMC Representative: If you had the opportunity to decide the Net neutrality debate, how would you rule?
Mills: Sadly, paid peering where traffic is out of balance is the only long-term solution. I would definitely rule that Internet is Title II, so that the important argument over what agency has oversight is settled. Every debate can’t go to the Supreme Court, who has no expertise on the topics. YouTube may need to pay more for outbound traffic if they don’t have enough inbound from eyeball networks like Comcast or AT&T (News - Alert). But ultimately, I think that it should be up to the peering partners. It’s pretty tough as regulators to tell AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google how to run their businesses. Regulatory oversight is there to provide consumer protection, period. There are no “little” guys to protect in the argument between AT&T and Google for example. Someone is just trying to get something for free, YouTube wants to distribute for free, and AT&T wants to hold their customers captive; its classic. Once Google builds some fiber networks and their own eyeball network, I think they could see things differently. On the other hand, if the companies control too much of the market, 2 or 3 giant eyeball networks become pretty good targets for the regulators, who are really only comfortable with a couple of competitors in any given market; think “duopoly” in the original cellular licenses. In the end, it’s a lot more emotional and transient that permanent. People have a hard time seeing government, laws and regulations as fluid, but if you read your history books, it certainly is much more so than the opposite.
TMC Representative: You are exhibiting at ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2010. What is the most exciting thing attendees will see at your booth?
Mills: Hosted VoIP, a fabulous California-based company who is accountable and provides good customer service, Oh, and brand-new Web Hosting division. We have over 150 years of telecom in our senior team alone. This is my 25th year in the industry; I guess the only thing that excites me these days is revenue, lots of it.
TMC Representative: What is the one technology development that will have the greatest impact in 2011?
Mills: I want to see more of a focus on human interface. I want more voice-control, more email-to-voice, more voice-to-text-message, voice to Word-doc. I don’t want mice or touchpads, I want projected keyboards and more context-sensitive intelligence. I want spell-check that finishes my senten….. and better headsets. I want push-to-talk, what a great feature!
TMC Representative: Who is taking that away from service people and why?
Mills: Someday we’ll get what we want, and not what manufacturers want to sell us, which is a fundamental element of success. Give people what they want, even if they don’t know what it is yet, and you are an unstoppable success story.
To find out more about Utility Telephone, Inc. visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Utility Telephone, Inc. in booth #127. Don’t wait. Register now.
Erin Monda recently graduated from W.C.S.U. with a degree in professional writing. She primarily writes about network technologies, including cloud computing, virtualization and network optimization, however she also has a focus on E911 technologies and legislation.
Edited by Erin Monda