Five years ago this week, ABRY Partners split RCN Metro off from its parent and rebranded it. But RCN retained the SMB-focused business customers in addition to its better-known residential footprint. Today RCN Business is not only still out there but is on a growth trajectory. The original customer base has grown beyond those SMB roots, as has the fiber footprint, and this summer RCN Business unveiled a new channel program aimed at further acceleration. Ted White, VP of Business Service for RCN, will tell us a bit more about RCN Business and its plans for the channel.
TR: What does RCN Business’s footprint look like today?
TW: Our network is comprised of six markets,New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Lehigh Valley, PA and Philadelphia. In each area we have a fiber-rich network. These markets are connected via the RCN fiber ring. Within each market, there are multiple subtending ringsthat help to maximize the customer experience.
TR: How much fiber do you have, and how tightly bound is it to your residential reach?
TW:We have 6,200 route miles of fiber in service today. Due to the extensive fiber within our network, we definitely have additional reach into businesses that require higher bandwidth.
TR: You recently unveiled a new channel program as part of your expansion plans. What did that replace?
TW:Previously, our channel program consisted of our markets working with smaller sub agents in a referral capacity.Our partner program, launched earlier this year, was developed with all our markets in mind. We have hired a team of channel managers, led by Patrick Dial and Melissa Rose who have brought many years of agent experience to RCN Business.
TR: Where have you rolled this out so far?
TW: We started in the New York metro area, but we’ve now expanded into all of our markets. Our mission now is to educate agents and subagents on RCN Business, while training them on our products and services.
TR: How large an opportunity do you see for revenue growth from the channel?
TW: We think this will be a major component of our business and is complementary to our existing direct sales channel.
TR: Have you had any trouble with channel conflicts?
TW: Channel conflict occurs in every sales organization. Interestingly though, we have seen little overlap so far. We see the channel as a true augmentation to our sales force.
TR: What sort of new opportunities have you been seeing through the channel?
TW: We leverage our agent channel as a viable opportunity to get into new buildings that we may not be in today. If an agent comes to us and wants to get into a certain multi tenant unit, assuming there is a strong return, that is an avenue we will pursue strongly. We are hoping to build on that in the future. We’re getting a few requests now, so it’s starting to get some traction in the marketplace.
TR: Have you seen more channel action with fiber or with HFC for such possibilities?
TW: We would look at both, but so far the majority have been fiber opportunities, especially with the ubiquity of fiber in our network. We do look at providing both services in the building, and if it makes sense we will provide coax at the same time, but most deals are fiber based.
TR: Do you sell other services via the channel in addition to access? Which ones have you seen the most success with?
TW: Yes. We enable our channel partners to sell all voice, video, and data services that we offer. We see traction mostly on the data and voice side.
TR: What does RCN bring to the table that gives it an edge with the channel?
TW: Many agents choose RCN Business because we offer some of the highest commissions in the industry. More importantly is our speed-to-market. We are very quick to deploy fiber into new buildings. We also have very competitive SLAs for both voice and data, and a dedicated support staff for the channel partner program.
TR: How are you able to offer faster speed to market in bringing buildings on-net?
TW: One of the keys is having a dedicated staff for it. We’ve gathered veterans from the industry who have been building fiber in our markets for years,and we’vemade an effort to create a process. We also have a dedicated access manager who actively works with building managers on a regular basis. But the real key is our construction team. They really know how to build fiber and do it efficiently.
TR: Thank you for Telecom Ramblings!
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