Making the Telcos Work for You

When it comes to telecommunication services, never have CIOs had as much control over their destiny as they do today. With all the new market entrants, and the Stentor alliance crumbling, customer loyalty is going out the window. One major Canadian bank, for example, ended its marriage with AT&T and shacked up with Sprint, allured by a few cents per minute.

In fact, CIOs are being bombarded by a Milky Way of telco possibilities. Soon, their communications choices will not be constrained by wires; concentric networking and infrared technology will be everywhere; and long distance charges will virtually be a thing of the past. Telecommunication companies are going to be scrambling to keep their revenues up, and it’s up to you, the CIO, to define the services you want from them.

To see clearly through the blur of telco change, you have to stay informed. If you’re not up to speed on the growing bandwidths, voice Internet Protocol (IP) and thin client technology, what are the chances your CEO is?

In fact, CIOs need to create awareness about the revolution taking place in the telecommunications industry. The millennium bug may have the spotlight now, but the telecom industry is playing a loud second fiddle.

And when you consider that the various flavours of communications represent some of the biggest lines on your company’s financial statement, after labour, materials and perhaps marketing, not to mention the amount of people-time spent communicating, we’d all be wise to survey the field a little better.


Only ten short years ago, you had no choice but to accept the telco bill you received. Bell Canada and other provincial carriers had monopolies in Canada, and the lack of competition made you wonder if you were a customer or a prisoner. Long distance was expensive, faxes were umbersome, local- and wide-area networks were considered innovative,and voice mail was rudimentary – definitely no real-time information about incoming calls.

With the deregulation of long distance in the 80s, the CRTC has also recently eased access for local telephone competition, which represents an $8.5 billion market in Canada. There are now over a dozen Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) targeting businesses large and small, offering very attractive rates for high-speed access within a local or wide area network. Once, CIOs depended on the Stentor alliance for telecom services, but now a huge array of choices is being offered by competing carriers seeking to differentiate themselves in the market. This revolution will open up many new ways to do business better and cheaper, while giving you more and more control.

Newspapers report daily on one of the principal symptoms of increased competition: the abundance of mergers, acquisitions and other telecommunications arrangements. Consider this long and growing list of telco news: