Digital transformation has been a buzzword for several years. Generally, it refers to the adoption and implementation of digital technologies to transform the way business is done. Usually, this process is driven by market demand: it is not enough to offer a landline and DSL-based internet or to have an outage that lasts for days. Organizations that are still using legacy systems and spreadsheets to operate and manage their networks will struggle to remain competitive.
Yet it’s not always the change in customers’ expectations around products and services that drives the digital transformation. In some industries, including telecommunications, digital transformation can be forced by regulatory requirements. Here are some examples.
Twice a year, the FCC requires all facilities-based broadband providers to report where they offer internet access service at a certain speed, organized by census block and customer type. For some providers, data collection and submission is an effortless, streamlined process. For others, it might take weeks and several teams to gather all necessary information from many sources. This lengthy process takes time and affects productivity. In addition, every so often the FCC changes the reporting requirements, which can complicate already strained internal processes. Organizations that have undergone digital transformation are much better positioned to respond to those changes quickly and accurately.
Because of the pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on revising the definition of broadband. Currently, 25 Mbps download speed/3 Mbps upload speed is considered broadband. Growing demand for internet services with higher, symmetrical download/upload speeds and lower latency has highlighted the inadequacy of the current speed requirements. Providers with legacy technologies/plants, as well as most cable providers, will find themselves at a disadvantage when the current definition changes. Digital technologies allow providers to strategically plan for network upgrades and expansions proactively rather than reactively.
Closing the Digital Divide
The calls to close the digital divide have been numerous and loud. Federal and state agencies have opened up more resources and opportunities for larger and more diverse groups of providers to build broadband networks in underserved areas. Yet nobody knows exactly how many households are in broadband deserts. Based on FCC requirements, if one household in a census block has a certain broadband speed, then the whole census block is reported to have broadband. That’s a problem. Some states, like Georgia, have taken the initiative to map broadband availability household by household. This way, state and federal resources can be allocated where they are needed most. When similar initiatives are adopted nationwide, it will be even more vital to have systems in place to know precisely and in a timely manner what’s going on with your network.
Inevitably, changes will continue to happen. What you can do is be prepared. You do that by adopting and implementing digital technologies to modernize your systems so that they’ll be easily adapted to meet future governmental requirements. If you have questions about modernizing your communications network management, reach out to us today.