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  • support 12:30 am on February 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, ILECs, , Rural Telecom,   

    A Case For TL 9000 Quality Management In Rural ILECs 

    We attended the NTCA (The Voice of Rural Telecommunications) Annual Conference in San Diego last week.  The rural telecom industry is certainly in a state of flux as a result of the new FCC order regarding telecom reform of the USF/ICC, which was released in late October 2011.

    While there were many great wireless, video and broadband technologies represented on the EXPO floor, the majority of the conference centered around this theme.  Meetings also took place regarding the potential merger of the NTCA and OPASTCO (Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunication Companies).  We have posted a few brief video clips on our YouTube channel.

    Our article is not about the FCC order and the various interpretations and implementations that will begin as a result.  Instead, we contend that TL 9000 quality should be a part of the rural ILEC “toolkit”, as a way to deal with the business implications they will now face.

    However, it’s important to understand the basics and how they do apply to rural telecom:

    The US Federal Communications Commission has approved major changes in the country’s Universal Service Fund (USF) aimed at focusing more on broadband expansion.  Starting from 2013, the FCC will also change its cost model for determining the level of funding, adopt a competitive bidding system for awarding the funds and tighten controls to ensure that subsidized operators meet the coverage promised.  The order as it currently stands, will likely reduce the compensation and revenues of many rural ILECs.

    Those are just a few of the changes with the new 700+ page order.  Here are some supporting articles that help put things in layman’s terms, such as links to Telecom Paper, the AT&T Public Policy Blog and an opinion piece from GigaOM.   If you want to delve deeper, you can visit the US government sites for the National Broadband Plan and the FCC (read the actual documentation of the order).

    What we do know is that many rural ILECs are going to experience a reduction in their compensation (reimbursements) and revenues while being driven by the marketplace to compete with increased product and service offerings that must include wireless, broadband, video, IPTV and/or “triple play“.  Let’s face it; it’s all about video and download speeds.  They must do this while cutting their own operating costs, improving productivity and scaling their organizations to grow, consolidate or possibly face sale or closure.

    Some of the larger ILECs, many of which have their roots in rural telecom, are embracing telecom quality by implementing TL 9000 either in their own operations or by driving it through their supply chains.  CenturyLink and Windstream are just a few examples.  Many of the largest equipment and service providers that supply rural telecom such as ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, Calix, Ericsson, Fujitsu, GENBAND, Juniper Networks, KGP Logistics, MasTec, Shields Environmental (and so many others) are either TL 9000 certified, obtaining certification or are active in QuEST Forum, the governing body over the standard.

    Yet, there is hesitancy on the part of small to mid-size ILECs to consider TL 9000 as a tool that can be used during these times to improve profitability and their chances of survival.  For us in quality management, we know the value of measurements and the risk management aspect of TL 9000.  We see firsthand from our work with clients, the many ways even the smallest of companies (10 employees or less), benefit from TL 9000 and ISO 9001 implementation:

    • productivity and operational efficiencies
    • reduction in rework and operating costs
    • revenue growth
    • ability to scale operations
    • improved partnerships with suppliers and supplier quality
    • engaged employees for overall business innovation

    Some of the smallest Telco providers (less than 50 employees) can implement TL 9000 for the cost of attending a few NTCA meetings and networking events.  It’s that cost effective (and possible), through a webinar based program.  The statistics and case studies (found on our knowledge base and at QuEST Forum) document the bottom line “payback” of improved quality.

    As more ILECs begin to rollout new broadband products and services, how do they cost effectively integrate these services with their existing installation, engineering and billing structures?

    Specific to rural ILECs, who wouldn’t want to reduce field costs, truck rolls, outages and faulty installations?  That low hanging fruit in terms of reducing the cost of poor quality and rework (which is often 10-15% of operating costs) could more than make up for the compensation reductions resulting from the FCC order, while making an ILEC better able to compete in a “triple play” marketplace.

    We hope as a greater clarity emerges between the meanings of “benchmarking data” vs. “compliance measurements”, that rural ILECs will begin to take serious notice of what their key suppliers and their largest competitors employ: TL 9000, the Telecommunications Quality Management Standard.

    As an associate member of the NTCA, we wish the best to these very needed rural providers as they navigate through tough times and uncharted territories.  If you need information on TL 9000 implementation or TL 9000 training, we are happy to provide a complimentary overview webinar for your executive team.  Please contact info@bizphyx.com.

    You can also visit the TL 9000 website and the QuEST Forum website to obtain further information, including a database of TL 9000 certified companies.


  • support 4:18 am on February 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: BIZPHX: The TL 9000 Experts, ILECs, Independent Local Exchange Carriers,   

    TL 9000 Benefits For Independent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs)? 

    This week we are discussing the benefits of TL 9000 for ILECs.   As an independent local exchange carrier executive you may have heard about TL 9000 or QuEST Forum, but may be unfamiliar with TL 9000 and wonder how it might benefit your company.  TL 9000 has been adopted as a common quality language across multiple suppliers and service providers in the telecommunications industry.  The beauty of TL 9000 is that it provides service providers like yourselves a way to ensure that your suppliers are using a systematic method for delivering their products and services to you.  It has been very successful in improving on time delivery and overall customer satisfaction since its introduction in 1998.

    One of the prime benefits of having one quality management system through the entire supply chain is that suppliers and service providers are that suppliers–can reduce cost of supply by eliminating rework resulting from poor installations, support services and products.  Furthermore, with TL 9000 there is an emphasis on risk management planning in order to help reduce risk of supply on your behalf.  Companies are required to identify risks to your projects in order to ensure that they consider them in advance, plan to eliminate or reduce them and recover should all else fail.  Risks such as labor shortages, single source suppliers and others are predicted in advance and dealt with.  These plans are required to be reviewed and updated regularly.

    Finally, there are formal means for receiving and responding to customer problem reports related to hardware, software and service products.  This process requires solutions to be provided by your suppliers within certain time frames according to the seriousness of the problem or require you to solve them according to customer contract arrangements depending on the type of business you are in.

    All of this means that you can standardize your system of tracking and reporting performance among your suppliers.  It reduces the amount of overhead you need to have to maintain multiple supplier report cards and can significantly reduce or eliminate supplier quality audits. I would encourage you to check into TL 9000 to see if it would work for your company as it has for many major service providers.  If you have any questions about TL 9000 implementation contact bclancy@bizphyx.com.

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