RICHMOND, Ind. — Chick-fil-A sells chicken sandwiches.
It’s a single-minded focus that has led to great success.
Richmond will now have that, too, at least as far as the business model. The Parallax telecommunications system will narrow its focus to fiber optics and voice over internet protocol, which enables voice calls over a broadband internet connection.
“I think a good analogy is that we want to be the Chick-fil-A of the telecom industry,” Tony Foster, the general manager for Richmond Power and Light, told his board members, who are the Richmond Common Council members, Monday night. “We want to focus on a core business product and have incredibly good customer service, which we already have. So really focusing in on doing one thing and doing it well.”
That transition has already begun, and it’s just one transition for Parallax.
Parallax has been a subsidiary of RP&L since receiving a $2.7 million loan in 2001 to start service. That means RP&L right now is actually a Parallax customer, too. The plan is to “roll-in” Parallax to RP&L. The $2.3 million loan balance will be satisfied by RP&L acquiring the $3.7 million in Parallax assets.
Parallax, which now has only four employees, would report to Foster rather than the Telecom Committee, although Foster thinks that committee should continue as an oversight committee.
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Foster told board members that a resolution for the “roll-in” will be presented at the Dec. 6 meeting.
The service transition has already begun. Foster said fiber growth has been consistent the past two decades to about 300 current customers. An updated schedule of fees and charges was implemented in 2021, and as contracts expire, they are being renegotiated. To save costs, Parallax has also completed some installation work previously done by RP&L’s line department.
The growth in fiber and voice over internet protocol customers has helped the Parallax finances. Foster said the projected $342,482 in income would make 2021 its best year.
Parallax has also discontinued its digital subscriber line service that Frontier could no longer support.
“The profit margin was very small, but the amount of time being spent was very large,” Foster said. “By discontinuing DSL, they’ve been able to spend more time working to grow our fiber business.”
Foster said Parallax acquired five new large fiber customers over the summer and completed a Verizon Wireless project that leases 56 fibers to Verizon for 10 years and included installation of five miles of fiber.
As Parallax moves forward, it would use a new, modern marketing strategy and direct sales to businesses adjacent to existing fiber installations to grow. The four employees would also continue building relationships with customers.
Upcoming advances include fiber splicing and managed network services. A splicer and related hardware is in the 2022 budget and would save money by Parallax doing splices in-house. Installing and maintaining network equipment for fiber customers would also create revenue from hardware, installations, onsite support and maintenance.
Should the “roll-in” be approved, all internal changes would take effect Jan. 1.