Cablefax The Magazine - September 2021 - 18

Independent Operator of Year
TDS continues to set the pace,
rolling out IP video and launching
2 Gig internet services.
It's been more than 50 years since LeRoy Carlson formed Telephone
and Data Systems with a goal to bring the latest technology and
top-notch customer care to the areas it served with its telephone
services.
Known today as TDS Telecom, the company has grown to 1.2 million
connections across its broadband, phone and video services. But the
heart that Carlson put into the business can still be felt today, and it
is that foundation set by the company's founders that has allowed
TDS to maintain its strength even in the toughest of times.
" This company was started by the Carlson family... we have strong
values, and the customer comes first all the time, " TDS VP, marketing
and product development Julie Maiers says. That was especially
true in relation to the company's experience weathering the
COVID-19 pandemic. " The safety of our employees and the safety of
our customers was our star that we were guided by, " she says. " We
just had to figure it out, and people are pretty creative under a little
bit of pressure. "
The ability to adapt has been visible in every
move TDS has made in the last 18 months. The
company hasn't allowed the difficulties that
came with the pandemic to deter it from any
of its long-term plans. Instead, it kept pushing
forward to innovate its video and broadband
products, providing customers with everything
they needed to work and relax at home.
The company introduced IP video and cloud
DVR service TDS tv+ back in June 2020. The
product includes a voice-enabled remote control,
a revamped user interface and third-party
apps such as Netflix. TDS still offers its traditional
video service as well to those subscribers
who haven't wanted to make the switch to TDS
tv+, but the grand plan is to eventually migrate
them all over to the new service.
" There is no question traditional TV customers
are in decline. Our product and strategy is to
combine the best of traditional and streaming
with easy navigation and recommendations
across multiple platforms, " TDS president/
CEO Jim Butman says. " Our strategy is pretty
simple-by having an evolving next generation
video product offering, you will gain substantially
better broadband market share, and our
numbers prove this. "
18
CablefaxTopOps.com
September 2021
Cablefax Top Ops
Balancing new product launches while trying to maintain the performance
of existing ones is par for the course for any cable provider,
but that became a little more difficult last year. Customer data usage
skyrocketed and peak usage times shifted due to lockdowns, putting
stress on the network. However, when the team looked at the impact
the launch of TDS tv+ could make for TDS employees and customers,
it saw plenty more positives than negatives.
" We did try to accelerate our deployment of TDS tv+ during the pandemic
just because it was an easier install. There could be more of a
customer self-install with TDS tv+, and/or it was a shorter install so
our techs would spend less time in a home, " Maiers says. " Accelerating
timelines is not easy, especially with a software-based product
and vendors, but we did it. "
Customers are appreciating the hard work. When TDS has surveyed
subscribers and asked them how important video was in their
purchasing decision, approximately 50% of new customers have
said that the provider's video offerings and bundling options were
very appealing.
What drove many of those customers to consider TDS, however, was
the company's broadband services. The provider currently offers
1Gbps speeds to 56% of its footprint, including both its fiber and
DOCSIS 3.1 markets. Vicki Villacrez, the company's CFO and SVP of
finance, reported on the company's 2Q21 earnings call in August
that 21% of new customers were taking on the 1 Gig product.
http://www.CablefaxTopOps.com

Cablefax The Magazine - September 2021

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