The business model for rural local exchange carriers (RLECs) used to be simple — provide voice and cable TV service where larger companies won’t.
As customers began to rely on (and expect) Internet access, the competitive landscape shifted and RLECs began to make the investments needed to provide Internet service. But before long, third parties sprung up to offer their own Internet service and related IT solutions even in rural areas, making the competition suddenly much stiffer for RLECs.
BEK Communications, an RLEC who has served south-central North Dakota for more than 65 years, recognized this growing challenge early on and has spent the last 10-plus years implementing a multi-stage strategy to meet it head on. Here’s what they’ve done:
Providing Internet service over copper wires worked well for a while, but as the digital era came into full swing, the team at BEK Communications knew they would need to update their infrastructure in order to meet customer demands as technology evolved.
The RLEC has now spent more than a decade replacing their original network with modern fiber optics. So far, they’ve put into place more than 280,000 strand miles of fiber with more to come.
This not only helped the company increase their reach, it helped them enact the next part of their strategy — product expansion.
Installing fiber optic cable gave BEK Communications the fastest Internet service in North Dakota and enabled them to begin offering expandable, cloud-based solutions.
The provider began leveraging Codero’s IaaS platform to offer hybrid and managed hosting products to their business customers. Soon, BEK expanded to offer cloud-based security, automation, surveillance, television, and voice products on a national basis. This expansion helped them double their customer base and triple their revenue in the last seven years.
In November 2017, the provider expanded its offering yet again to include 50 GB of Codero Cloud Backup as a perk that comes bundled with its broadband service.
To ensure the success of this release, BEK launched workshops and educational outreach, including a TV commercial campaign to inform customers of the security and benefits of the cloud backup product. The company has relied on Codero for additional support throughout the product rollout.
“Misconceptions about cloud products still abound, mostly due to lack of technical knowledge,” Jesse Gunsch, BEK Communications Network and Products Manager, said in a recent case study on their product launch. “BEK leverages their relationship with Codero to educate the customer, to create a customer experience that is trouble-free.”
To expand their reach even further, BEK developed its own partner program that enables companies to resell Codero cloud-based hosting, with Codero Cloud Backup soon to come. According to Gunsch, having the partner program in place gives the team a broader presence in the market without greatly expanding the responsibilities of BEK’s already-busy team.
By the same token, being part of the Codero Partner Program has given the team the support they need to design cloud solutions that fit their customers’ needs.
The RLEC Opportunity
Every long-running company in history has had to evolve to meet changing needs and market conditions, and RLECs are no exception.
If you’re an RLEC team on the verge of expansion, we encourage you to reach out to our team. Codero has decades of experience working with — and evolving with — RLECs across the country both as end users and Codero Partners.
The good news is that competition may be steep, but few companies have built the long-lasting relationships or trust that RLECs have with their customers. This puts smart RLECs in an exceptional position to market to end users and become the provider of choice in virtually any IT arena you choose to enter.