60 Seconds with Phil Alvarez, President, RCN Metro Optical Networks

Felipe “Phil” Alvarez is president of RCN Metro Optical Networks, where he is responsible for all aspects of the business unit. Alvarez has more than 20 years in the telecommunications field with companies such as NYNEX and Bell Atlantic. Prior to RCN, Alvarez was Chief Operating Officer of Con Edison Communications.

BF: What information infrastructure components are necessary for a large company to succeed in a new location?

PA: Companies need access to high-bandwidth, fiber-based communications networks in order to compete. The reliance on computing over a wide area makes it critical to have a reliable, resilient network. According to one study, the average financial institution experiences 1180 hours of downtime per year, costing them 16 percent of their annual revenue, or $222 million (according to SETLabs Briefings). Finally, when looking at infrastructure, companies should consider choice and customer support. Having multiple providers from which to choose allows the customer to select the carrier that is best suited to support their needs.

BF: Which U.S. industries require a first-rate information infrastructure to operate at their optimal peak, and why?

PA: Any industry that relies on wide area networks to compete should demand a first-rate information infrastructure. We’ve observed that those industries that are most in need of high capacity transport are financial services, healthcare, education and governmental agencies, although all businesses need access to widespread information, especially given the emergence of “cloud computing.” Latency is becoming a greater concern for these companies where, for example, a millisecond can mean the difference between making or losing millions of dollars on a trade, or a delay in accessing critical services in a “cloud computing” environment.

BF: How can an advanced information infrastructure help businesses work more efficiently with government agencies and/or educational institutions?

PA: High capacity fiber-based networks provide the bandwidth required to support information sharing among communities of interest, such as between educational institutions or between suppliers and governmental agencies. Solving the bandwidth bottleneck unlocks the potential to add media-rich applications that allow companies and people to get access to the information they need in order to be productive. Also, having this capacity available allows them to store data at off-site locations, thus ensuring that the information is protected from loss.

Facebook’s Facelift

In November, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Ads, an ad system allowing businesses to connect with users and target advertising to the exact audiences they want.

“Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online,” Zuckerberg told an audience of more than 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York. “For the last hundred years, media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation. And they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

The keynote opened the Facebook Social Advertising event, which also featured senior executives from landmark partners including Blockbuster, CBS, Chase, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Sony Pictures Television and Verizon Wireless. More than 60 major consumer and Internet brand partners were highlighted at the launch of Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads has been launched with three goals: a way for businesses to build pages on Facebook to connect with their audiences; an ad system that facilitates the spread of brand messages virally through Facebook Social Ads; and an interface to gather insights into people’s activity on Facebook that marketers care about.