There are a number of phone and internet options for small to midsize businesses. Many businesses limit themselves to their local phone and cable companies. That might be fine if the local phone company offers fiber based DSL service or the cable company can service their location, but that’s not always the case!
Some buildings just don’t have coax cable or DSL as an option. Sometimes DSL is available but at very slow speeds. Some businesses want a phone system but just don’t want to waste money on equipment that could become obsolete in a few years.
The following are a number of different provider types that companies should consider when shopping for new voice and internet services:
Incumbent Carriers: Incumbents are local phone companies, like Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink/Lumen. Pluses: They own the phone network that is connected to the majority of the businesses in their territory. If the local phone company offers fiber based services or fiber DSL services, a business should be able to secure speeds approaching 100 Mbps. Incumbents also offer a full suite of telecom voice services, should a company outgrow DSL and analog business phone lines.
Minuses: The size of carrier and the level of customer service are usually indirectly proportional. When an individual wants to make a purchase that person will receive one level of service and probably a completely different level if the same person called for help with his or her existing service. There was a time when the phone company provided the highest level of employee training and maintained the most experienced staff in the industry. That’s not the case anymore. A customer might get lucky and reach someone who is helpful and knowledgeable, but if opposite occurs, that person could be in for quite a ride.
Cable Companies: Local cable companies, like Comcast, Cox and Spectrum, can be a nice alternative to the local phone company. Pluses: Cable companies can provide super high-speed internet access and business phone lines. They can also provide other services like IP voice and fiber internet connections.
Minuses: Cable companies operate within specific boundaries in a given area. Inside their territories, their service can still be spotty because cable was originally established for home use. For a business utilizing cable based phone and internet services, relocation could be an issue. It’s very possible that a cable company won’t be able to provide service at a location in or outside of their territory. If a cable customer is moving to a location where there’s no cable, the business might be forced to cancel their move, find a new location or break their contract and face termination liability.
Competitive Carriers: These are the providers that compete with the incumbent carriers. Pluses: Competitive carriers specialize in servicing business customers; they’re typically smaller and more responsive; they can be very aggressive with their pricing; they tend to be more creative with their product offerings. For example, some competitive carriers produce faster internet speeds by bonding DSL connections in areas where DSL performance is below average or they may own fiber to the area.
Minuses: Competitive providers’ pricing pushes customers to longer term agreements. They often rely on the local incumbent carriers to deliver their services. If one of their customers experiences a service issue, the competitive carrier might be dependent on the incumbent to get it resolved.
Hosted VoIP Providers/UCaaS: Companies that provide phone service over the internet and may resell internet service. Pluses: Instead of receiving services from multiple providers, a company can receive all their telecommunication services and equipment from one provider, offering one bill and a single point of contact. With no upfront or capital expense, a small company can operate like a larger one with a sophisticated, state of the art VoIP phone system.
Minuses: With Hosted VoIP a business never stops paying for their phone equipment (if the provider has a “rental” model). If a business purchases a system, even if they lease the equipment, that expense will disappear after a period of time – not always so with UCaaS/Hosted VoIP. It’s also more difficult to change service providers. If a customer wants to change providers, they may need to acquire new phone equipment and retrain their staff.
If you would like help determining the best service options and provider, please contact CarrierBid today. Our professionals have experience and expertise with all the different options. They can identify the best fit for your company at the lowest possible price.