How CSPs Can Compete With Bigger Businesses Through Strategic Partnerships

Small CSPs, or communications service providers, have it rough right now. Just a few businesses dominate the American telecommunications market. In fact, nearly 50 million Americans have only one internet service provider to choose from. If smaller CSPs want to break into those kinds of markets, they’re going to need some help.

When it comes to communication services, “smaller” generally means “more specialized” as well. While small-time CSPs may have success carving out their own niche, they’ll likely have trouble facing down the big dogs. The easiest way to get past this is to partner with other services providers to bolster or even bundle offerings.

While creating a superteam of partnerships to take down industry titans may sound good on paper, it’s easier said than done. Quality partnerships require strategic alignment. Here are some things you can team up on:

1. Expand Service Area

As of this moment, the single greatest opportunity for CSPs is the expansion of coverage. Approximately 10% of all Americans have no internet access whatsoever, and some who have no high-speed options to choose from. The country is teeming with markets that CSPs tap into, but going it solo is difficult.

Teaming up with a fellow CSP to expand service area won’t just create a more resilient business model for the both of you; it will prepare you to provide access even further beyond existing boundaries. 

There are millions of dollars waiting to be awarded to businesses that take the leap and provide telecommunications services to those who don’t already have them. The FCC recently awarded $25 million to internet service providers in New Hampshire in order to expand their coverage area. Congress gave companies in West Virginia $7.6 million to do the same.

The demand and money are there; CSPs simply need to start expanding. Find a partner willing to join you, and you’re bound to make a splash.

2. Leverage Data For Insight

CSPs collect a lot of user data. By analyzing it well, they stand to glean all sorts of audience and service-line insights. This is one of the primary reasons for inequality in the field: Big companies — and Big Data companies — have more data to mine, meaning they have more to base their market strategies on. 

The fix is a simple one: Get more data to analyze, and get better at analyzing it. Those goals are what Plume, a data intelligence and smart home services provider, had in mind when it created its Consumer Experience Management (CEM) Platform. Plume helps communications service providers take stock of usership through its cloud-driven, software-defined network. 

Through its data analysis tools and applications, Plume ensures its partners know how their subscribers are engaging with their services. Only by understanding how their services are used can CSPs do better.

3. Build New Bundles

Telecom services have been sold in bundles for decades. But the truth is, the triple play — voice, video, and data — is no longer a home run.

Consumers are increasingly opting for à la carte telecom services. They’re cobbling together over-the-top services like Sling with cell phone providers and still other broadband internet providers. 

Market trends rarely reverse themselves. Rather than cling to your traditional bundles until the bitter end, the better approach is to rebuild them around what’s selling today. Consider packaging data services with similar ones, such as network monitoring, home management, cyber-security, or smart device support. 

Bundles aren’t going away. Their customer retention benefits are clear. But what’s in them needs to change, whether CSPs like it or not. 

The CSPs sector is not zero-sum: By working together and partnering with other services providers, they can compete in markets neither partner could alone. Cooperation, not competition, is how small CSPs can topple the giants. 

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