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Apr 04, 2023
6 min

Innovative “Broadband in a Box” Helps CTC Increase Service Activation and Cut Truck Rolls By 50 Percent

Recently I caught up with Anita Hollenhorst, Business Development & Communications Manager, and Joe Buttweiler, Chief Strategy Officer, at CTC, a Minnesota-based cooperative. With roots dating back to 1950, CTC continues to set the standard in telecommunications, bringing high-speed, reliable connectivity to homes and businesses throughout Minnesota. Their fiber optic network serves more than 16,000 subscribers, providing internet, phone, and TV services along with business phone systems and IT services. CTC’s mission is to empower their members, employees, and communities through exceptional service and life-changing technology for a sustainable future.

A long-time Calix customer, CTC has deployed Calix Support Cloud (Support Cloud) alongside the Revenue EDGE™ platform to help transform their business operations and deliver exceptional member experiences. Having always prioritized high levels of service, the local BSP faced exceptional challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. We discussed how this proved to be a catalyst for innovation and how Calix has helped CTC evolve into a more agile business, driving down operational costs (OPEX) related to expensive installations and unnecessary truck rolls. Anita and Joe shared the profound business impact of cutting truck rolls by at least 50 percent, significantly reducing OPEX while positively impacting their member experience and satisfaction levels.


When the pandemic struck and the world closed its doors, everything from work to school to healthcare went online—how did CTC cope?

When COVID hit, we needed to turn up services faster than ever. Everyone needed connectivity, but we had to balance the surge in demand with keeping our members and colleagues safe. We came up with the idea of “Broadband in a Box.” We would be able to get people set up with our CTC Complete Wi-Fi service quickly and without entering a home. We created an easy self-installation process whereby high-performance Calix GigaSpire® BLAST u6 systems could be pre-provisioned and drop-shipped to doorsteps. We conducted our site survey outside the home and then provided everything members needed—a Complete Wi-Fi Quick Start Guide, instructions for downloading our CTC Complete Wi-Fi app (our personalized version of the CommandIQ® self-service app), links to online resources including how-to videos, and even a pair of socks to complement our “rocks your socks” theme!

Continuing our installations without delay was a huge boost during the pandemic. We were able to get members online quickly and safely, so they could continue working, learning, and doing everything else from home. This new installation approach also delivered immense efficiency, cost-savings and the opportunity to realize revenue faster. Previously, we had two truck rolls for every installation—one for the initial site survey and a second to turn the service up. Now, we still roll a truck for the site survey, but Broadband in a Box eliminated the need for the second truck roll in most cases. Cutting truck rolls in half—practically overnight—allowed us to significantly reduce OPEX and freed our team to work on other priorities.

This new approach worked so well that we made it part of our standard operating procedure. It has been instrumental in our expansion efforts—we received a grant to deploy fiber to a community in northeastern Minnesota, and we connected 95 percent of these new subscribers with Broadband in a Box. This helped accelerate our rollout while reducing the cost of this expansion.

Can you talk more about the role of Support Cloud in your new self-installation process?

Support Cloud has been critical to our success. From the start, Support Cloud gives our service assurance technicians (SAT) team “eyes” on the entire subscriber experience. They can monitor the activation cycle—an activation timestamp indicates a live connection—so we have that all-important peace of mind that a self-install has been completed successfully. And then, post-install, Support Cloud gives the SAT team end-to-end visibility of the subscriber network, from the WAN to the gateway, Wi-Fi, all connected devices, and apps. Our SAT team can quickly identify and troubleshoot most issues remotely, further reducing the need for truck rolls.

Backed by Support Cloud, we’re connecting homes and businesses in just a few days. Compare that to the Tier 1 players, who schedule blocks of installs in an area—customers can wait weeks or even months to get service. That’s just not good enough. Support Cloud means we can offer much faster installation and an exceptional member experience.


How are your members responding?

We just started tracking customer satisfaction via the Net Promoter Score earlier this year. Judging by our initial score of 69 and the lack of incoming support calls, it’s safe to say our members are very satisfied with their experience. This fast, friction-free, and easy self-installation process is precisely the experience that subscribers are coming to expect from their service provider. We’re proud that we can compete with—and beat—our major competitor with our easy onboarding experience and completely local service.

What’s also exciting is that our internet subscriber growth rates have more than doubled. Pre-pandemic, we grew at an average of 6.5 percent per year, and now it’s around 14 percent! Looking ahead, we’re focused on increasing subscriber adoption of the Complete Wi-Fi app, and managed services such as ProtectIQ® home network cybercrime protection and ExperienceIQ® advanced internet parental controls so we can bring even greater value to our members.

Taking the lessons learned during the pandemic and rethinking how we manage our installations has been a gamechanger for us as a cooperative. We’ve been able to redirect precious resources into more growth-oriented activities and harness the technology in a way that directly impacts our members. The bottom line is we can now easily deliver high-speed internet and managed services to homes and businesses in a matter of days rather than weeks or months. It’s a win-win; customers are delighted with the prompt service activation and quality of experience, and we benefit from reduced OPEX and quicker time-to-revenue that supports our growth.


Discover how you can deliver an amazing subscriber experience while driving greater efficiencies in your support operations. Download our eBook “Making the Move to Proactive, Value-Enhancing Subscriber Support.

Director, Product Marketing—Service Cloud, Calix

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