In the News

August 29, 2009

Obama Must Prod FCC on Net Neutrality, Access Compensation Rulings

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Though federal dollars earmarked for bringing broadband Internet services to places in the United States that don’t have them – so-called “broadband stimulus” funds – have been making headlines in recent weeks, end-users would benefit from more competitive connectivity if monies were targeted specifically for carriers, an official with a Brooklyn-based IP communications services carrier told TMCnet in a recent interview.

 According to Zalmen Ashkenezi, of Tandem Transit LLC– a company that offers wholesale transit services to U.S. CLEC, ILEC, cable and wireless customers – the question of whether only big companies can get any stimulus package funding is top of mind.

 “If you look at the history of wireless carriers, most of the industry was not built by the big phone company brands that you see today, it was built by small companies that were later acquired by the larger corporations,” Ashkenezi told TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News- Alert) in an interview, printed in full below.

 “The FCC has been prolonging coming out with a ruling which is probably the most complex ruling that the FCC (News- Alert) has had in its history,” he said. “What should a carrier pay to each other for sharing their networks? Right now if Barack Obama wants to get technology going in the United States and not be behind European countries then the FCC has to come out and rule on both net neutrality and on access compensation, and once that is dealt with there will be motivation for innovation in companies.”

 Ashkenezi’s company is exhibiting at ITEXPO (News- Alert) West 2009, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles.

 Companies that Ashkenezi said he’s looking to talk to at the show are CLECs, cable operators, ILECs and VoIP companies that want to be able to do transit services with Tandem Transit or do their LNP dipping, “which we are able to do more with new technology and less in a conventional way where you have to have a very large and expensive TDM network.”

 “So we are looking for phone companies that want to reduce their network expenses and increase revenue with better CDRs for CABS,” he told Tehrani.

 Their full exchange follows.

 Rich Tehrani: What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?

 Zalmen Ashkenezi: In order for a company to stay competitive in today’s market and be able to sustain their customer base they have to start offering more services at an economical cost difference to their competitors. Our Customers continue to seek ways to offer the same services or more services at a lower cost. These companies started migrating and integrating the Voice and Data networks to have one network instead of multiple networks. Tandem Transit comes in and helps them to converge voice traffic over their IP networks, reducing their cost.

 RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?

 ZA: Every investment in our company is positioned to create more integrated networks for our Transit services; In addition we are seeking to extend those benefits to our clients who are offering unified communications services to their customer at the same or lower cost. We will continue to invest into integration convergence software or product lines that align with our objectives.

 RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?

 ZA: We all agree that Communication is paramount in our daily lives, connecting with people and businesses in all possible ways. As time goes by, the technology is evolving so fast, that there are always new technologies to improve how we communicate with each other.

 For example if you look at the SMS feature offered by wireless carriers today, you will understand that not all features are available on all Communication Platforms. VoIP is the convergence of these features over a single IP Network, enabling the wireline and wireless providers more features to offer to more clients seeking those very sticky applications.

 RT: With the rise of smartphones and notebooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi (News- Alert), appears to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and moreairlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?

 ZA: Companies may integrate more on WiFi in the near future, because it will continue to enable them to get better connectivity to their customers. The wireless carriers are going to find more competition as more non-wireless carriers enter into the wireless market by utilizing WiFi. We should seek more ways to connect our gadgets to our providers, and if its wireless or WiFi, People will want it cheaper and faster. Tandem Transit is positioned today to help these carriers reduce the network costs for the voice traffic which will go to the end users of these WiFi networks.

 With the evolution of Enum, we will be able to take the call straight to where the end user is, or anywhere in the world on the same number regardless of the network. Because if its connected to WiFi or ymax, it gives you better access to the customer. This will be enable communications directly to those end users, instead of having to go through multiple TDM networks. Tandem Transit will continue to help companies to evolve with our enum technology that we have built and use throughout our IP network

 RT: Which nationor regionof the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?

 ZA: For right now, for Tandem Transit it’s the United States of America where we actually are revolutionizing the way some phone companies communicate. Today in order for a call to go from anywhere in the country to the other side of the country, from NY to LA or from an ILEC to a CLEC they have to go through, either locally through a TDM local PSTN transit provider or long distance through an IXC or long distance company.

 What Tandem Transit does is instead of going through multiple TDM carriers to get the call connected we take it from the originator to the actual terminating company so there aren’t multiple TDM carriers in the middle which increase cost. Not only does this help with better communications, better quality monitoring, and it also helps with cutting the cost that companies actually pay for transiting and terminating the call. So right now it’s the United States and soon we will expand within the European markets

 RT: In what ways is President Barack Obamahelping or hindering the technology markets? What more can he do?

 ZA: A few things the president can do is create a stimulus package for carriers, in order to enhance broadband services throughout the United States to get more competitive connectivity to the end user. The question is who is actually able to get any stimulus package funding and is it only the big companies? If you look at the history of wireless carriers most of the industry was not built by the big phone company brands that you see today, it was built by small companies that were later acquired by the larger corporations.

 The FCC has been prolonging coming out with a ruling which is probably the most complex ruling that the FCC has had in its history! What should a carrier pay to each other for sharing their networks? Right now if Barack Obama wants to get technology going in the united states and not be behind European countries then the FCC has to come out and rule on both net neutrality and on access compensation, and once that is dealt with there will be motivation for innovation in companies.

 RT: I understand you are exhibiting Sept. 1 to 3 at ITEXPOWest in Los Angeles. What will you show there? Describe the companies or people who should come to your exhibit.

 ZA: Tandem transit is a neutral voice transit provider that helps other phone companies provide better services to their customers at a lower cost. Therefore the companies that we are looking for at the show are CLECs, Cable operators, ILECs and VoIP companies that want to be able to do Transit, Enum services with us or do their LNP dipping with us which we are able to do more with new technology and less in a conventional way where you have to have a very large and expensive TDM network. So we are looking for phone companies that want to reduce their network expenses and increase revenue with better call detail records for CABS.

 RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?

 ZA: First, we don’t increase expenses for our clients, we reduce their operating costs. Right now they need to find more ways to keep revenue for their services. To add more connectivity, they may need to go out and buy expensive equipment cards to their TDM interconnects and this will have a increased monthly connection and transit fee. What we do is actually quite simple, we use their existing IPNetwork, converge with the VoIP technology and we just peer to them to send and receive voice traffic from other carriers doing the same thing with us. We actually reduce their monthly expenses by reducing their capex and per minute fees currently being charged by the PSTN or RBOCs. So if people don’t want to save they don’t have to come to us, but if they want to save on both variable and fixed costs Tandem Transit is the right partner.