In a very engaging session entitled Competitive Threats and Opportunities at the Annual Meeting, NTCA’s vice president of business and technology, Kevin McGuire argued that NTCA members are in a good position to compete in today’s evolving competitive environment. McGuire demonstrated a variety of technologies including VoIP, Internet video, call management portals, and wireless convergence, while urging the audience to embrace and leverage these technologies. One of McGuire’s key messages was that even though some of the demonstrated technologies seem complicated, NTCA members are in a position to offer them today. He stressed launching these new services don’t always involve having to do expensive technology upgrades. Rather, rural telcos can use some of their existing technologies. As an example, telcos don’t necessarily need a softswitch to offer some of the same features that VoIP service providers offer, including call management web portals. Their existing switching infrastructure allows them to do so today.

Indeed McGuire’s advice is spot on. Most rural carriers have very extensive technology and network assets in place already. Launching competitive services and features without significant investment in new technology is achievable. Carriers would be wise to take McGuire’s advice and really appraise their current technology situation and leverage it to increase their competitiveness.

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