3 Major Challenges Facing Call Center Management Today

3 Major Challenges Facing Call Center Management Today

The work of a call center agent can be rigorous and stressful and the day of a call center manager tends to be unpredictable. As the leader, it is your responsibility to handle all the affairs that your agents can’t control, whether that be a difficult call, technical issue, or office politics. The manager’s duties extend to guaranteeing that the office staff is working efficiently and that they are working in a comfortable space that they enjoy working in.

If you’re able to handle the task of creating a happy and efficient work environment, then your customers will be able to recognize that on calls and respond positively. Pleasant calls and a stable work environment will provide a happy agent and an even happier manager.

Creating a Dream Team

The most significant challenge a call center manager has is building and keeping together a strong team he or she could rely on day to day. Without a strong team, it is impossible to run an effective call center.

Everyday call center agents are jumping ship for the promise of better pay, and a better work environment. When you find yourself with agents who believe they will be taken better care of elsewhere, then you will also find yourself with new seats to fill. So how do you change this?

If you create an environment that encourages friendship and teamwork, then you will find yourself with employees who like being around each other. If your employees see they aren’t just working with other employees but friends then they will be more comfortable coming into the office every day. It’s a lot easier to quit when you don’t know who is sitting in the chair next to you. When your employees get to know the people around them, then they will find it a daunting task to leave them.

Friendships and teamwork are not going to resolve all the issues that come from working in a high-stress atmosphere. Let’s be honest the job of a call center agent is not for everyone. It is one thing to handle smooth sailing and another to handle treacherous waters; whether those waters be unhappy customers or not hitting goals.

As a manager, it is imperative you create a positive and pleasant work environment. Not to say that you shouldn’t hold your agents accountable because making sure everyone is doing his or her work to the best of his or her ability is essential. It is necessary to praise your employees when they have a great call and when they hit goal. If you can create an atmosphere of trust, confidence, accountability, and family, then you will rarely find yourself looking for new agents.

Technology Stops for No One

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it but don’t skimp on the tune-up.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Your phones are probably dated and so is the technology running them. If not, then consider yourself one of the few who updates his or her software and technology every day. Week after week, new technology and software come out that makes the life of telecom managers and agents easier.

With so many different vendors and systems to choose from it’s almost impossible to stay up to date on all the technological advances happening. Luckily for you, the changes occurring are not significant enough for you to have to revisit your technology every day.

If the time permits, you should revisit your current operations once a quarter. Set a time in your calendar to chat with your agents. Ask them if they have any issues with the systems you are currently working with and if they think anything could be improved. After all, they are the ones using the phones and software, and they will be able to provide the best feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

By checking in once a quarter, you will provide yourself with the knowledge required to make any changes to your operations in the future. The more information that you have, the more capable you will be to help your agents and customers.

Not Enough Support

Call centers don’t have to be sexy, but they do need to run like a well-oiled machine. Executives in your organization may not see the call center as important as some of the other aspects of the business. However, if an executive were to take a day to sit in the trenches, he or she would see how vital the call center is for the current and future state of the business.

Call centers provide the backbone and support for the organization. As managers, we must ensure that all of our agents have a solution for every question and problem a customer may have.

Make sure to set times each week to review calls with your agents. If you can set up a weekly or monthly email or meeting with your agents to discuss some of the most significant challenges you hear about and address best practice for handling these issues.

We know call center managers face far more than three challenges and it’s impossible for us to account for them all in a single blog post. To simplify, a great place to focus on is ensuring you are creating an atmosphere that invites positive and open communication between agents and managers. If you can do this, then it will trickle down into positive interactions with customers.


A group of 32 telecommunications companies, phone manufacturers and tech firms will join AT&T Inc. in developing standards and procedures to fight robocalls, the automated calls and texts made to individuals to either sell products or commit scams.

AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson is heading the so-called Robocall Strike Force, which will include Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The task force will report back to the Federal Communications Commission by Oct. 19 with “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions” to combat the prevalence of robocalls, as well as suggestions for what the role of government should be in addressing the issue.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that while he was happy to see the industry tackle the problem of robocalls, the agency could step in if they don’t see the task force making significant progress.

“This is an industry group,” Wheeler said at the opening of the task force’s first meeting at the FCC on Friday. “We believe in multistakeholder solutions. And when the whole ecosystem can come together, it can produce good results. But without results, we will be forced to look for other solutions, because this scourge must stop.”

Wheeler said robocalls are the “number one complaint” the FCC receives from consumers, noting that more than 200,000 calls and web complaints about robocalls are sent to the agency each year.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said there were nearly 87,5000 complaints about robocalls in just the first half of 2016.

“We want to ensure that these solutions directly target the problem,” Clyburn said at the meeting. “The Commission has a long history of prohibiting abusive or anticompetitive use of call-blocking technology, but consumers want real relief. I am optimistic that beginning with today’s conversation we will be able to deliver to consumers the change they are clamoring for.”

“Americans have a right to be fed up with this scourge,” Wheeler said. “It’s an invasion of privacy and it is ripe with fraud and identity theft. The problem is the bad guys are beating the good guys with technology right now.”

The Robocall Strike Force is meant to tackle that problem by developing industry-wide goals and action plans to ensure consumers aren’t pestered by illegal robocalls anymore. However, AT&T’s Stephenson said it’s difficult to weed out the malicious robocalls from those that are within the bounds of the law.

“These unwanted calls span a wide range,” Stephenson said at today’s meeting. “We have calls that are perfectly legal, but unwanted, like telemarketers and public opinion surveyors. At the other end of the spectrum we have millions of calls that are blatantly illegal. They are violating the Do Not Call registry or, worse, trying to steal your money or identity.”

At Wheeler’s request, companies agreed to discuss the feasibility of a “Do Not Originate” list designed to stop robocalls at the source. Federal agencies and other institutions commonly imitated by robocallers would register their numbers on the list, and the service providers could then block any calls coming from those numbers outside of the United States. Many robocall scams originate from outside the country.

The companies also agreed to conform to other technical standards once they become available or are deemed viable. They also will “further develop and implement solutions to detect, assess and stop unwanted calls from reaching customers,” Stephenson said at the meeting.

The group will work to facilitate other carriers’ efforts to implement call-block technologies on their networks.



A CLEC operating from, and providing service in, multiple rural markets was faced with the following:

  • Budget cuts
  • Declining revenue from traditionally stable CABS billing and reciprocal compensation
  • Team reductions
  • The need to upgrade switch infrastructure
  • Recent local and federal rural call completion requirements


As a result of multiple mergers and acquisitions, the company’s network contained various switches, such as Metaswitches, DMS-250s and 5ESS hardware, with limited least cost routing functionality. There were both TDM and SIP interconnections to multiple carriers with varying degrees of efficiency and quality.


TSI’s CTO and technical team have extensive experience working with divergent switches, including regional and national networks. TSI acted as a neutral third party during the due diligence process and subsequently designed a project plan to consolidate the network into a homogeneous environment.


The Company now maintains a redundant voice switch facility, utilizing state-of-the-art systems that enables their dedicated staff to route and monitor traffic from a central network operating center (NOC) facility.

The Company has successfully consolidated vendors, and negotiated significantly lower rates, without the need for volume and/or term commitments. Excellent call quality has been maintained and they continue to be in compliance with the FCC Rural Call Completion Order.

TSI now enjoys a stronger relationship with the customer and their team. As a result, TSI has earned a significant increase in traffic and revenue.

About Televergence Solutions (TSI)

Televergence Solutions (TSI) is a telecommunications carrier who attributes over 30 years of success and an average length of customer of 14.7 years to quality and competitively priced products: inbound toll free and high calls per second/call completion rate outbound long distance. Pre-qualified candidates receive a 10,000 minute free trial.

C-Level account management provides their customers with access to senior executives. Customer service as a competitive advantage and a dedicated Customer Success Manager is their unique value proposition that drives the company’s 30 years of success and average length of customer at 14.7 years.

Founded and managed by the CEO, Deb Ward, whose integrity and reputation is exemplary in the telecommunications space, she is the first and current Chairwoman of INCOMPAS (formerly known as Comptel), the industry’s leading competitive telecommunications trade organization.

The company’s CTO, David Deutsch, has extensive technical expertise in the call center telecom space and manages the fully staffed, U.S. based 24 x 7 x 365 Network Operating Center (NOC). The technical team has an average of 18 years of experience and is familiar with most legacy and nex-gen platforms; including Dialogic, Acculabs, Brooktrout, Nortel, Avaya, and Asterisk. An on-premise TDM to VoIP enabled conversion and loan equipment program for legacy platforms is available to candidates who otherwise qualify.

Leadership, membership, advisory and board roles are maintained within numerous Professional Trade Organizations, including INCOMPAS (formerly known as Comptel), Federal Internet Service Providers Association (FISPA), Insights Association (formerly the Marketing Research Association), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), Telecom Associates and Women In The Channel (WIC).

Televergence is a WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) certified WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise).


Putting Value Ahead of Cost

Successful call centers require strategic perspective, the right mix of motivated people, mature business processes and CRM software systems. It seems every consumer has a frustrating or ridiculous call center story they can tell. They often involve calling in to a company's call center to seek information or help, only to be 'served' by someone who may not speak English well, is rude, unempowered or just unwilling to help.

Dissatisfied call center experiences are the number one source for customer churn, according to a 2011 research report by Yet despite the frequency of such occurrences many companies just turn a blind eye to their call center operations, seemingly unaware of the consequences.

If you are investing in a call center and it's not satisfying your customers, you're wasting your money and burning through valuable customer relationships. However, for companies that choose to confront business reality, improving contact center performance has the two prong benefit of reducing customer churn and creating customer goodwill - and may be the best financial investment you can possibly make for these two critical business objectives.

Contact centers are often the first place where your customers go to communicate with you. They can write in with e-mail or the U.S. Postal Service, sure, but when they reach out to call your contact center staff, they're looking for direct communication and immediate response or resolution.

Call centers are important for customer service because they let your customers talk directly with your business. This is the place where a customer problem or complaint can be defused and ultimately become a customer success story, all because you had someone there to listen, talk and help your customer at their time of need. That's huge. Essentially, it's human Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It's just as important as that big, enterprise software CRM system you also have in your business, but this one has the human ability to truly communicate with your customers.

So now what? Much of call center success starts with a positive attitude. To begin looking at call centers strategically, they can no longer just be seen as a necessary expense. They need to be seen as strategic, customer bonding tools that can help turn an angry customer into a satisfied and appreciative customer who will remember their excellent customer service experience, tell all their friends and grow their spend with your company.

A great call center will help you keep your customers, generate highly qualified referrals, increase customer share, increase market share and grow your business. A bad call center operation will feed the frustrations and high customer support representatives turnover rate that plague far too many contact centers.

The worst experience your customers can have is if they dial in to your call centers for help and come away angry and distraught due to the perceived poor response from your company. Those are the alienated customers you are turning away to competitors. And that's not why you built and staff your call centers in the first place. Bad call center experiences undo your customer relationships. It's that simple.

There are some interesting developments happening in the call center industry that could impact your call center operations and strategies. Instead of locating call centers offshore, some call center operators are placing outsourced call centers in rural America, where labor and facility costs can be materially lower compared to large urban areas. Don Tennant, a former editor-in-chief at Computerworld, recently interviewed Monty Hamilton, the CEO of Rural Sourcing Inc., on this increasing trend. "According to Hamilton, it's not just about waving the American flag, but about serving a sweet spot that falls squarely in the middle market," Tennant blogged.

This new rural call center location sourcing is being established to address one of most cited concerns by customers who complain about having poor, ineffective and frustrating communications with call center agents in other countries. Is it such a solution for your business? Ask your customers. Your customers should be your first line for call center strategy. Ask them how they feel about their call center experience with your company. Listen hard and ask good questions.

A decision to locate a call center offshore or in rural America shouldn't be only about expense. Call centers must be viewed as a business building asset and not just a cost center. Effective call centers are a place where your customers can be nurtured, assisted and turned into lifelong customers, all due to live conversations with well-trained, compassionate and respected call center agents. This value must be quantitatively understood and appreciated for call centers to receive the executive sponsorship, and respect, they deserve.

Only then can those old attitudes about call centers begin to change.


Posted on: July 2nd, 2016 by Cirrus
Written by Jason Roos, CEO, Cirrus

In today’s highly competitive environment, the war for customers is intensifying. Customers are increasingly value aware, but this should not be interpreted as simply lowest price. Although customers are demanding, they do recognize when they receive service that is seamless. A report by The Institute of Customer Service revealed a strong correlation between providing higher customer service levels and those experiencing stronger sales growth, with Amazon coming out on top.

Many businesses talk about the importance of Customer Service, but so few actually deliver it. Delivering customer Service is a continuous experience with no real start or finish point. Think about how your business can help the customer throughout the entire purchasing journey. Whether it’s the initial pre-purchase research phase, browsing in-store, at the point of purchase either online or in-store, and through to post-purchase and installation/implementation. Crucially, the customer views their experience with that supplier as continuous, across multiple channels and interacting with different people.

Customer Journey Mapping is an effective tool for identifying key customer touch points. Focusing on the experience with the contact centre, here are five ideas of what can be achieved to set you on the path to delivering an exceptional customer experience:

1. Sorry we Missed your Call.

You are experiencing exceptional call volumes, queue lengths are higher than you would like, a customer gives up waiting and hangs up. You immediately text them, apologise for missing their call, and then call them back as soon as an agent becomes available.

2. Let the System Queue for your Customers.

Nobody likes waiting. Remove this frustration by letting your customers hear a message which advises them to press a number to have their place held in the queue when they hang up. The call centre then rings them back when they reach the front of the queue.

3. Cut to the Chase.

A customer is browsing your website, they click the button to speak to someone. When the agent greets them, they not only know who the customer is, but also what they have been looking at on your website.

4. Using Customer Data To Personalise Your Pre-Agent Message.

Your customer calls, you know who they are from their mobile number, you can see that they have an order with you and are awaiting delivery. You play an immediate message, “Hello Mr Smith, while we connect you to an agent, we just wanted to let you know that your order for the Harry Potter Book was dispatched today and should be with you by midday tomorrow.”

5. I Hear You.

Your customer posts an update on social media that they are frustrated with the service that they have received from your Organization. You respond within minutes with an apology and then call them immediately to address their problem. When done well, this turns your biggest hater into your biggest advocate.

For more ways Cirrus can help your Organization improve your customer service get in touch on (0333 103 3440).



This regional wireless provider services one of the U.S.’s largest state’s mobile phone markets with expectations to connect all calls made on their platform regardless of the destination. The service from their existing long distance provider was “fair”, however, a substantial amount of time was wasted on trouble tickets due to call quality and completion issues. They were also interested in a cost reduction.


Located in a rural area of a large mid-U.S.state, their options were somewhat limited as they required a TDM/non-IP connection. They had conversations with several alternative providers, however, since there had been no visits from any of those providers, the Customer assumed an apparent lack of interest.


Televergence Solutions was one of very few, possibly only, voice services providers that provided C-Level Account Management pre- and post-sale. We visited the customer’s rural location to clearly understand the issues. After reviewing the traffic details and discussing a TDM private line connection between the Customer and the long distance provider, we delivered a winning proposal that met all of their needs including a TDM connection from their network into the Televergence Solutions’ network.


The Customer moved all U.S. off-net traffic to Televergence Solutions and all U.S. traffic now traverse the Televergence Solutions network with all calls completing. In the 30+ months this Customer has been routing calls through Televergence Solutions, there have been very few, quickly resolved trouble tickets.

The TDM connection provided a substantial savings for the month-ly usage for routed long distance calls. Reduced costs, C-Level Account Management, our ability to connect all calls with minimal trouble tickets, and detailed reporting has made this customer very happy. They have realized the 35% savings original Televergence Solutions proposal.


TSI is a telecommunications carrier who attributes over 30 years of success to quality and competitively priced products, complemented with C-Level Account Management and Customer Service.

The company was founded and is managed by the CEO, Deb Ward, whose integrity and industry reputation is exemplary. She is the 1st and current Chairwoman of INCOMPAS (formerly Comptel), the industry’s leading competitive telecommunications trade organization. TSI’s CTO, David Deutsch, has extensive technical expertise in the call center telecommunications space and manages the Company’s fully staffed, U.S. based Network Operating Center (NOC). We maintain an on-premise TDM to SIP conversion capability and loan equipment program for legacy platforms.

Our portfolio includes High Call Completion and High Call per Second Capability Inbound TF and Outbound LD with a No Obligation Free Trial. Membership is maintained within INCOMPAS (formerly known as Comptel), Marketing Research Organization (MRA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), Telecom Associates and Women in the Channel (WIC).


Posted on: October 5th, 2015

As the Chairwoman of Comptel (, telecommunications’ leading competitive trade organization, and the owner and CEO of TSI (, a 28+ year telecom carrier business, the critical accomplishments of Comptel in maintaining and promoting a healthy, competitive environment benefit us all.

Today I’m sharing Comptel’s recent Press Release entitled “FCC Tech Transition Vote is a Win for Competition, Business Customers”; yet another Comptel victory.

Kind Regards,

Debbie Ward
(800) 706-5199 Office
(213) 943-2011 Cell

COMPTEL: FCC Tech Transition Vote is a Win for Competition, Business Customers

Washington DC (August 6, 2015) – Today the Federal Communications Commission voted to uphold and preserve competition – a longstanding bi-partisan principle – as the nation’s networks continue to evolve to IP based networks.

In response, Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL released the following statement:

“Today is a win for competition, and a win for the future of new networks.

Upholding competition policy, regardless of network technology, will serve as the catalyst for new network deployment, better customer service and continued innovation.

“IP based technology, which can be delivered over copper or fiber, was the result of innovations by competitive broadband providers seeking to disrupt the hundred-year-old telephone network.

“Competition is a proven, free market force that drives prices down and investment up. A return to rates regulated by monopoly rents and consolidated market power would be bad for consumers, business and investment.

“The results of the FCC’s competition first approach, applied in the tech transitions Order, are evident in recent commercial agreements taking place in the business market.

“Chairman Wheeler and the entire FCC deserve credit for their leadership and thoughtful approach to the technology transitions. Ensuring competition is preserved while vital public safety measures are set in place answers concerns raised by a broad coalition of voices.

“This competition coalition includes consumer groups and the leading small business advocate. Industry associations representing 150,000 gas stations and convenience stores and 70% of all the electricity providers powering homes and businesses wrote to the Commission in this proceeding to ask that competition to be preserved and promoted.

“In addition, over 300 individual businesses from across the nation, including small corner shops and national retail chains, have asked the FCC to protect their ability to choose a competitive provider during and after the tech transitions.

“The CIOs of Brooks Brothers, Pier 1 Imports and Simon Property Group, which manages retail malls with 30,000 retail stores and over 600,000 jobs, came to Washington to argue for preservation of business competition directly.

“This large coalition of supporters also includes schools, hospitals and government offices that depend on affordable access to essential services provided by broadband. Over 11,000 people signed a petition to the FCC calling for more broadband choice in recent weeks.

“Today’s victory validates their efforts while creating momentum for the future action that will finally allow competition to break the last mile barricade. For the broadband marketplace to achieve the same level of competition in other markets, such as wireless and over-the-top, completion of the long-delayed special access proceeding must be the next step forward for the competition agenda.

“Attacks on the tech transitions competition Order from incumbent telecom providers simply echo their monopoly roots. Today represents a blow to protectionist policy, and we encourage our incumbent friends to turn away from the playbook of the past and embrace a future driven by new networks. This will both open and grow new markets.”


**Read Chip Pickering’s recent Medium piece, Tech Transitions: Competition Genesis, Competition Future


Based in Washington, D.C., COMPTEL is the leading industry association representing competitive networks. COMPTEL members are entrepreneurial companies driving technological innovation and creating economic growth through competitive voice, video, and data offerings and the development and deployment of next-generation, IP-based networks and services. COMPTEL advances its members’ interests through trade shows, networking, education, and policy advocacy before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the courts. COMPTEL works to ensure that competitive communications providers can continue to offer lower prices, better service, and greater innovation to consumers. For more information, or follow @COMPTEL on Twitter.


Posted on: October 2nd, 2015

Dear Reader,
As the Chairwoman of Comptel (, telecommunications’ leading trade organization, and the owner and CEO of TSI (, a 28+ year telecom carrier business, the critical accomplishments of Comptel in maintaining and promoting a healthy and competitive environment are invaluable and benefit us all. The specific event at hand is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Order to approve the AT&T/DirecTV merger, with conditions, as outlined in his statement below; as well as Comptel’s role in this event, as outlined in the second article below. Comptel filed in the proceeding to have the FCC address Internet interconnection, programming pricing and competitive access issues, and was pleased to see the Chairman hear us. This is another significant win for Comptel members and consumers. We expect the Commission to vote on the Order soon and will keep you updated.
Kind Regards,
Debbie Ward
Toll Free: (800) 706-5199
Office: (213) 943-2011


In light of news reports concerning the AT&T/DirecTV transaction, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement: “An order recommending that the AT&T/DirecTV transaction be approved with conditions has circulated to the Commissioners. The proposed order outlines a number of conditions that will directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace. If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection. This additional build-out is about 10 times the size of AT&T’s current fiber-to-the-premise deployment, increases the entire nation’s residential fiber build by more than 40 percent, and more than triples the number of metropolitan areas AT&T has announced plans to serve.“In addition, the conditions will build on the Open Internet Order already in effect, addressing two merger-specific issues. First, in order to prevent discrimination against online video competition, AT&T will not be permitted to exclude affiliated video services and content from data caps on its fixed broadband connections. Second, in order to bring greater transparency to interconnection practices, the company will be required to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the Commission, along with regular reports on network performance. “Importantly, we will require an independent officer to help ensure compliance with these and other proposed conditions. These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition.”

AT&T DirectTV Merger Conditions Reflect Power of Open Internet and Interconnection Movement

WASHINGTON DC (July 21, 2015) – Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced an order recommending that the AT&T/DirecTV transaction be approved with conditions, and was circulated to the other Commissioners.
COMPTEL, the competitive networks association, has called for the inclusion of interconnection requirements as a condition to the merger in filings to the FCC.

In response to the announcement, Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL, released the following statement:

COMPTEL, has long advocated for an open interconnection policy, and under Chairman Wheeler’s leadership, the Commission established a just and reasonable standard for Internet interconnection practices to protect and promote an open Internet and a more competitive marketplace. “The Comcast merger was withdrawn over interconnection and other broadband concentration concerns, and since the Open Internet Order, several major interconnection agreements have been agreed to in the marketplace. “Just last week, Charter announced modifications to its interconnection policy and its willingness to live by them as a condition to its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House. These recent developments in the marketplace have been based on the industry standard of no access fees for transit providers, content delivery networks, and over-the-top content providers that bring the traffic to the doorstep of the broadband Internet access service provider. “We’re pleased to see interconnection taking center stage in the Commission’s Order on AT&T/DirectTV. The transparency condition gained in this merger will give the Commission the tool it needs to review AT&T’s interconnection practices to determine whether it is living up to the industry’s standard of no access fees. “The combined progress made on interconnection promotes an Open Internet and a more competitive marketplace for over-the-top content, applications, and services. These competitive gains are significant and measurable. The Chairman and Commission’s comprehensive actions are responsible for this tangible movement on what is the first amendment of competition policy—interconnection. COMPTEL commends the Chairman for achieving another major step on the road to greater competition.”


Posted on: October 1st, 2015

Small business demand for services is driving the evolution of our communications networks, and Advocacy recently filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging the body to ensure that small businesses have choices that fit their needs, at prices they can afford. In 2010, Advocacy released a study which concluded that broadband is as vital to running a small business as basic utilities like electricity. Moreover, the study concluded that small business owners are largely dissatisfied with the affordability and choices offered to them in the broadband market.

The majority of small businesses buy broadband and voice services from both incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). ILECs own and maintain our country’s legacy phone network, but are required to lease network facilities to CLECs so that they can provide competing choices in broadband and voice services. ILECs obligations to the public and competitive carriers are governed by a number of regulations to ensure consumer welfare. Network technology is evolving, allowing both ILECs and CLECs to offer a greater variety of services over the same network by upgrading electronics; in some cases ILECs are also retiring copper landlines and replacing them with fiber-optics. The FCC has established a task force that is overseeing policy issues related to these technology transitions and seeking public comment and engagement on various issues.

The FCC has the important responsibility of not only preventing consumer harm as network technology evolves, but also preserving the kind of competition for services that has spurred innovation in the way communications are delivered. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has vowed that small businesses will not lose the benefits of competition as technology changes. Advocacy has long supported efforts by the FCC to maintain and promote competition for the benefit of small business consumers.

According to information provided by one CLEC, one third of small businesses purchase broadband and/or voice services from competitive carriers. In its most recent letter to the FCC, Advocacy expressed concerns that large incumbent carriers like AT&T and Verizon are planning to retire copper landlines and update network technology without adequate regulatory safeguards in place. Advocacy believes such safeguards are necessary to ensure that prices for small businesses do not increase, and that the number of providers a small business is able to choose from do not decrease. Advocacy strongly supported the FCC’s proposals to ensure that incumbents seek FCC permission to retire last mile facilities, and offer replacement products to CLECs at equivalent rates, terms, and conditions.

A number of small businesses, public interest groups and competitive carriers have submitted similar comments to the FCC (here). Advocacy is interested in hearing from small businesses regarding their experiences purchasing broadband and will continue to forward their concerns to the FCC. Anyone interested in filing comments with the FCC can do so using the FCC’s electronic filing system. For more information, please contact Assistant Chief Counsel Jamie Saloom at 202/205-6890.