Globalization is hardly a new trend in telecom, but it is one with a spotty history. In the 1990s, as the telecom bubble was inflating, multiple megadeals were proposed to create global giants — remember the ill-fated BT/MCI merger or Sprint's alliance with France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom? The thinking then was that a handful of major global operators would literally take over the world.
Those deals unraveled for multiple reasons, including regulatory delays, cultural differences and Bernie Ebbers' WorldCom ambitions, but the lessons learned informed the entire industry. With the advent of all-IP networks and the coming of competition to many major markets, it was no longer necessary to build, own and operate your own network infrastructure to compete for the business of much-coveted multinational corporations.
Increasingly, those corporations are looking for global network partners that make it easier for them to profitably take their business into the far reaches of the planet. So it's not surprising to find multiple global players operating in the U.S., initially serving the needs of their home-country clients as they expand here.
For some U.S. telecom providers, this is good news — companies such as Level 3 Communications, XO Communications and others stand to sell more network transport and services to the BTs, NTTs and Orange Business Services of the world. For any U.S. company with global ambitions, it's just more competition. When major U.S. corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever sign major contracts with a foreign-based provider — in this case, BT — that is lost business and cause for concern.
In this issue, we profile some of the larger international competitors — from NTT, which has been established in the U.S. the longest, to newcomers such as Tata Communications — to see what is driving them and proving to be points of differentiation.
It's no longer enough to provide a reliable, robust network that reaches around the globe because many companies are able to do that. The real competition will be in how service providers are able to deliver managed services that make it easier for multinationals not only to communicate, but to embrace new options for productivity such as telepresence and adopt new technology as it becomes available in a low-risk way.
This issue also includes our latest look at IPTV, with a frank discussion of whether it is stalling as it faces major competition from Web-based video and other options.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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