Leading the ‘new’ Allstream

We talk to Allstream COO Raymond Lahoud about being a ‘brand refocused,’ new cross-border capabilities, and what customers can expect now and in the year ahead.

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It’s a busy time for Allstream. Last year’s acquisition by U.S.-based Zayo Group established the combined company as the only pan-U.S./Canada fibre network provider; Zayo Canada owns and operates the Canadian fibre and data centre assets, while the Allstream brand handles voice, unified communications and SMB. This March, Zayo acquired Electric Lightwave, an infrastructure and telecom services provider in the western U.S., some of which — aligned to Allstream’s mandate — will be integrated into the Allstream brand.

eIP: It’s an exciting time in Allstream’s history. How would you describe Allstream today?

Lahoud: Allstream today is a brand refocused on voice services. Our focus has come from a long, long history of being a provider in this market, and you can expect from us the same focus we had in the past, the same type of innovation that we brought to market. We were the first to launch SIP trunking in Canada and the first to launch hosted cloud in Canada. With a complementary network from Zayo, it allows us to serve customers more widely.

eIP: How does Allstream differentiate itself from Zayo?

Lahoud: Zayo was specifically founded based on the exponential need for bandwidth and communications infrastructure — we leverage that infrastructure to deliver voice and data services to our customers. We focus on voice products, and provide data services for the SMB market; Zayo is focused on large enterprises and wholesalers and customers that require big, big bandwidth.

eIP: What does the acquisition of Electric Lightwave bring to the table?

Lahoud: That’s exciting for us, because it brings us scale, and that scale allows us to strengthen our relationships with customers, bring more resources and professional members to service our customers, and gives us uniqueness because we now have great cross-border capabilities. We have a lot of similarities, a lot of our technology is with the same vendors, their focus is on a lot of similar markets and products. It’s a natural fit. What we really see is a complementary expansion of our footprint. We chose to use the Allstream brand for both organizations, so that’s how we will go to market — we’re leveraging the brand and reputation we’ve earned in Canada now throughout the U.S.

eIP: What’s it like leading the ‘new’ Allstream?

Lahoud: It’s a great time to be at Allstream. It’s an exciting time for us because of where the market is going and the size and expertise of the team we have. The market is transforming and a lot of customers are moving to IP services, VoIP services, and collaboration and communication tools. Also, there’s the evolution from premise-based to cloud-based services, and we have the products, the services and the team to help customers make the transition.

eIP: What is the focus of Allstream’s business for the year ahead?

Lahoud: You can expect to see innovation, to see us continue to deliver unique, flexible services to our customer base in ways that no one else will. We were the first to launch innovative products like SIP trunking and cloud services, and the market can expect to see more positive disruption like that from us. We are not, and never really have been, your typical telecom company.

eIP: Why should someone consider doing business with Allstream?

Lahoud: What’s unique about Allstream is we’re only focused on the business market and deliver solutions that line up with their needs. All modesty aside, we’re the voice service experts. So, if you are part of that market segment and require voice and communications and collaboration, we’re the ones you should turn to. More than anyone else in the market, we’re attentive to your needs, and when you combine that with our focused level of service and support, we will deliver on the promises we make to you. What other telecom company talks like that?

eIP: What sets the new Allstream apart from its competitors?

Lahoud: Our attentiveness and the ability for customers to work with us at all levels of the organization. Because we’re focused only on the business market, not consumers, we offer a degree of flexibility that our competitors choose not to and that gives us the ability to be more attentive and available. Those who work with us benefit from that attention. If they need our attention, they have the ability to connect with all levels of Allstream, including me, to move forward. Providing customers with a great experience is a differentiator for us.

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