Resilient Broadband & More in Challenging Times – a ViodiTV Real-Time Conversation

When you are 33 feet above sea-level and considered to be the Mount Everest of South Florida, you need a network that can withstand hurricanes and floods.  To accommodate this environment, Jeff Leslie and his team built an all-fiber, underground network to keep Treasure Coast businesses connected during natural disasters. As it turns out, ITS Fiber’s network helps businesses, schools, and government stay on track during a pandemic as well.

The fiber network is at the core of ITS Fiber’s business and residential services which include

  • Managed IT services
  • Datacenter
  • Voice
  • Smart home products
  • Home security

In the above interview, Jeff Leslie, ITS Fiber President & CEO, and Denise Lechner, ITS Fiber Marketing Manager, describe their efforts to ensure all kids in their service territory have access to the Internet. They also talk about the transformative impact that their video conferencing solution has on how they do business and how it is helping their customers as well. Finally, there is a brief comparison between their broadband and the water/sewage pipes.

Conversation Highlights:

  •  00:55 – Jeff provides an update of what life is like in Florida during the shutdown and is cautiously optimistic that things are improving. Denise echoes Jeff and indicates that she and her colleagues have had to learn new tools to keep things going.
  • 02:57 – Leslie describes how they purposely overbuilt their network from a capacity perspective, have multiple routes to the Internet and put it underground.
  • 04:23 – He indicates that they aren’t seeing much of an impact on the upstream.
  • 05:34 – He compares ITS Fiber’s broadband pipe to its sister company’s water and sewer pipes. Like broadband, water usage is up.
  • 06:24 – Jeff suggests they are “taking a sledgehammer to a mosquito approach” to ensuring the safety of ITS Fiber personnel, as well as customers.
  • 07:47 – The ITS Fiber backbone to the Internet has had plenty of bandwidth
  • 08:51 – Denise explains how they are going well beyond the Keep America Connected Pledge by free Internet to families in need who have students or those who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19. They have also been providing WiFi hotspots at schools and churches.  Leslie calls this effort and investment in the community.
  • 12:03 – The elementary and middle schools provided the laptops to the students.
  • 13:26 – The ITS Fiber video conferencing solution has been a great way to form and strengthen relationships with customers. A side benefit has been that ITS Fiber has been it using it internally
  • 15:26 – Are as many physical meeting rooms going to be needed with the widespread use of video conferencing? Denise points out that the mobile app allows staff to be anywhere and still meet.
  • 17:22 – Jeff expresses his concern about losing the true face-to-face and camaraderie that goes hand-in-hand with a physical presence.
  • 19:06 – Jeff and Denise talk about a unique and fun virtual game at the all-staff lunch that was also a teaching moment. To support local restaurants and delicatessens, ITS Fiber treats staff to lunch on a regular basis.
  • 22:40 – Customers adapting quickly to video conferencing.
  • 24:52 – Jeff now understands the value of presence in being able to communicate using the right tool to the right person at the right time.
  • 26:48 – Their local presence and last-mile fiber network have helped differentiate them from larger competitors. As a result, IT sales have increased and that some of their business is outside their fiber service territory.
  • 29:22 – Jeff is optimistic regarding Microsoft’s purchase of Metaswitch and what that can mean for the future.

Stay tuned for next week’s ViodiTV Real-Time Conversation with Thomas Crowell, author of The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers and The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators.