In an industry that is inherently and necessarily monopolistic, there is a history of hyper competition for a somewhat commoditized service. Telecom mergers and acquisitions are heating up these days as I am sure Judge Green is turning over in his grave. Today’s announcementof Earthlink and Windstream merging follows a string of such actions like the acquisition of Level3 by Centurylink, Verizon of XO, and Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
As a customer, there will be less competitors working to earn your business with all of these telecom mergers. There will be less customer service personnel to help field your calls when it hits the fan. Redundancies will be eliminated and sales people will be struggling to compete to keep their positions. Middle management will also be stuck in a weird position, telling people their jobs are secure while not knowing if their own position is impacted.
What does this mean for the end user, the person that is responsible for keeping you network infrastructure up and running? With less competition, you can expect that key information will be more obscure. I’ve been in situations where installers, working at companies involved in telecom mergers, were so disgruntled with their change in employment they were more focused on getting a new job than completing the one they already had in queue.
It’s possible that the consolidation would improve customer relations and I’d be happy to hear if that was anyone’s experience. I’ve lived through a fair share as an employee and a vendor. I’ve yet to see a successful merger of systems in large telecom providers and that is where the customer is really impacted. Ideally, these customers would merge and have full access to information and system integration to make ordering across networks more seamless. Phones wouldn’t need to port, billing would be seamless, they’d know where all of their network assets are, etc. Unfortunately, there are a lot of systems, especially when you add voice and cloud components which are extremely detail oriented.
Knowing the systems are important however knowing the internal politics of organizations, who the key players are, and who gets things done is mission critical in a hyper shrinking environment like today’s telecom mergers. When it goes wrong, as it always does at the most inconvenient time thanks to Murphy’s Law, you want to get on the line with someone who can find out what’s happening and not wait in a queue for someone to get back to you. One thing is certain, people, not systems, govern activity in the telecommunications industry so knowing whose who becomes more valuable the more mission critical infrastructure is for your company.