NRTC’s NeoNova subsidiary, specializing in various internet services, held a preconference workshop at the recent NTCA IP Vision conference in New Orleans. Participants focused on several ways to improve their service to rural web users. As a follow-up, NeoNova has released “Growth, Loyalty, and Efficiency,” a white paper sharing insights gathered during the workshop.
The white paper quotes an unnamed participant at the workshop: “Our business is facing a lot of competition. We need to do everything we can to stand out and give our customers better service.” The competitive edge is what the right mix of technology offerings can give an internet provider.
Managed Wi-Fi service, for example, is when an internet provider offers community businesses the ability to keep their customers connected. The most important element, from the local restaurant, hotel or other businesses’ point of view, is the availability of equipment installation and technical support. Other services could include remote provisioning and mesh networking support.
Prior to the workshop, NeoNova distributed a survey to participants to measure which technologies workshop participants were using and which seem to be gaining interest among rural internet providers. “Managed Wi-Fi is still relatively new, and many providers have yet to invest in a solution,” according to the white paper. “Forty-eight percent of survey respondents have yet to offer some sort of managed Wi-Fi solution to their subscribers. Of those who did offer a managed Wi-Fi solution, 88% say that they have only offered managed Wi-Fi for three years or less.”
But devices in the market connecting to Wi-Fi routers is growing dramatically and today stands at about 6.4 devices per rural home, according to the research firm, Cronin. The conditions for managed Wi-Fi growth seem to be present. NeoNova believes that educational material could help drive greater managed Wi-Fi usage among rural businesses, and it has developed a series of informational videos, “Wi-Fi 101.”
“These videos aim to help rural providers educate their customers on bandwidth, connectivity troubleshooting, and more through friendly and accessible one-minute long [presentations] we brand with our affiliates’ company information,” the white paper says.
Another technology rural ISPs use to get attention in the marketplace is video distribution. About three quarters of the workshop participants already were offering video, according to the survey. The question for the gathering was, what is the next step?
Bundling video with other communications services remains a popular alternative, with various combinations including basic internet access and landline/mobile phones services. NeoNova encouraged participants to consider ways to introduce new video services at the same time.
“Video offerings can be expanded outside of traditional linear video and can still satisfy customer demand for local channels,” the whitepaper concludes. “One such way to do this is to use a geofenced, managed broadband video services such as NeoNova’s ViewLocal service.”