Calix President Michael Weening presenting at ConneXions 21
SOURCE: SmartTech Research
Around 6:30 PM on Sunday, October 17th, over a refreshing adult beverage, I found myself reflecting on what the technology industry had been going through during the past two years. But my brief nostalgic interlude didn’t occur in the safety of my home. It happened at XS, a decidedly lavish nightclub (complete with a surrounding European pool) at the Wynn Hotel and Resort, one of the more glamorous venues in Las Vegas. At the invitation of Calix, I attended ConneXions 21, the company’s first public event after taking a hiatus in 2020. ConneXions is Calix’s premier industry event crafted to support the company’s extensive partner network of Broadband Service Providers (BSP) by focusing on topics like general management, marketing, customer support and network engineering/operations. Through this event, Calix believes it can help BSPs simplify their businesses, energize subscribers, and enhance value in the areas they serve.
Just two years before, attending a vendor event like this during the Consumer Electronics Show or another industry event would not have struck me as unusual. For a few moments, I reveled at seeing large groups of people socialize, laugh and genuinely enjoy themselves. I can’t describe how gratifying it was to see people bumping into others they had not seen in years. And due to the fastidious safety protocols that were implemented, I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
At the end of this blog, I’ll provide some commentary on why I believe Calix differentiated itself as a bona fide industry leader with its decision to hold ConneXions 21 in Las Vegas publicly. However, let me focus on a few of the key themes that emerged at the conference.
The BSP’s success is Calix’s success
Keynote after keynote, it was impressive to hear the executive commentary in lockstep with the notion that Calix cannot succeed without the BSP prospering. Given this premise, Calix President Michael Weening commented how important it’s been for the company to transform itself from a networking entity to a planform-based organization based on software, a cloud-driven infrastructure and fast innovation.
Founded in 1999, Calix is a cloud and software platforms company that partners with broadband service providers. The company’s stated mission is empowering BSPs of all sizes to “simplify” their business, “excite” their subscribers and “grow” their value. Most of Calix’s customers are small broadband service providers who have 250,000 or less subscribers. The company just reported $172.2M in revenue for Q321.
The company has spent $1 billion over the past decade to execute this transformation. It’s always been in Calix’s DNA about bringing solutions and capabilities to market that enable BSPs to serve its customers in a collaborative, partnership-oriented manner. Calix believes that platforms are the most powerful and efficient vehicles to help BSPs innovate and deliver the most value to their subscribers in a way that creates stickiness, enhances ARPU and fortifies customer loyalty.
A few examples that underscores Calix’s commitment to the BSP community
Recognizing how important wireless performance speed has become for residential and small business subscribers, Calix announced the first “carrier-class” Wi-Fi 6E Giga Spire BLAST, providing power over ethernet, mesh and temperature-hardened systems. Many of Calix’s BSPs have subscribers who live in regions with challenging weather conditions and have intense use cases with demanding performance requirements. Relatively new to the market, WiFi 6E provides 6GHz wireless band support, which is much larger than existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The 6GHz band is also exclusive to WiFi 6E devices, which means WiFi 6E devices can take complete advantage of the available bandwidth, and don’t have to fight with traffic from other devices or networks.
Calix also announced its Revenue EDGE Wi-Fi On The Go offering, which provides seamless wireless access, single sign-on and secure roaming throughout neighborhoods and public areas. This exciting solution enables BSPs to essentially deliver “community” coverage, providing brand differentiation and new incremental revenue streams. The huge subscriber benefit for W-Fi On The Go is that it enables mobile-like services (such as Wi-Fi calling and mobile data offloading) without requiring a mobile network and avoiding the bandwidth limitations associated with cellular plans. Subscribers simply sign on once and can enjoy secure, roaming across participating access points. It’s not difficult to see the benefits of this offering for first responders, law enforcement, safety, and medical personnel and schools.
Calix Marketing Cloud Overview
SOURCE: Calix Web Site (www.calix.com)
On the partner support side, Calix announced a new offering designed to address BSPs’ limitedmarketing resources. At ConneXions 21, Calix announced HubSpot integration with Calix Marketing Cloud. HubSpot is well known as one of the leading CRM platforms for managing email, landing pages, social and digital ads. This integration allows BSPs to easily extract data from Calix’s Marketing Cloud for broadband marketers to develop and deploy potent, targeted omnichannel marketing campaigns for getting subscribers incentivized about new offerings. Given that scalability is a massive lure for BSPs who must often do more with less, I suspect this announcement has particular resonance.
A few closing observations
As I mentioned at the onset of this blog, Calix deserves special kudos for deciding to hold ConneXions 21. As President Michael Weening told me during an interview at the event, the decision was not trivial. From my vantage point, Calix proved that a large event, with approximately 1,500 people in attendance, could be executed safely and pragmatically. Both Calix and the Wynn Las Vegas deserve an enormous pat on the back for setting the bar on how a significant industry event can be carefully conducted without making concessions to the welfare of those who attended.
From my vantage point, the partner-related substance of ConneXions 21 reinforced how unequivocal Calix feels about its commitment to the BSP community. Aside from the product and program-related announcements made at the event, Calix is deadly serious about providing tools to strengthen the BSP’s value proposition with its subscribers. Calix understands that data, coupled with insightful analysis, can be a powerful instrument to help BSPs grow their businesses and strengthen their existing subscriber relationships. During the event, Calix released a recommended short marketing deliverable that articulates this point that you can download here.
One major tailwind that Calix is benefiting from is the general market trend toward “managed WiFi.” The work-from-home phenomenon, sparked during the pandemic, created a strong customer desire for robust, reliable wireless coverage throughout the home. In short, residential wireless performance became as critical as other legacy utilities like water, gas and electricity. As I mentioned in a previous Forbes blog, most consumers do not want to become “CIO” of their homes. “Managed WiFi” offers an opportunity to have a trusted entity, like a BSP, oversee their home wireless network in a secure, optimized and cost-effective manner. Calix is perfectly positioned to assist their BSPs partners with capitalizing on this opportunity.
With the legendary Consumer Electronics Show only two months away, Calix set a admirable example for the entire tech industry. I had conversations with several attendees who also admired the meticulousness and thoughtfulness of ConneXions 21, which bodes well for those attending CES in January. As one attendee told me, “It feels good to be talking about the future again.” I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.