Avoiding the pitfalls in selecting a telecoms provider

In many ways the structure of the telecoms market doesn’t reflect the fact that communication is vital to almost all businesses.

We suspect that many businesses haven’t really considered the cost of telecoms failures within their business – and it’s not easy to find figures that will guide you (after all it’s probably not in the interest of the industry to focus on its weaknesses!).

Alongside the potential cost of downtime, Ofcom research suggests that poor customer service is the main cause of dissatisfaction amongst business as far as telecoms provision is concerned.

And customer service is key when ‘disaster’ strikes. How will your supplier respond? Will they keep you updated? What action will they take to resolve the situation – and more importantly, what action are they in a position to take?

After all some ‘disasters’ are unavoidable – storm damage, the inevitable JCB cutting through a cable, or as happened in Manchester a few years ago, a group of ‘excitable’ young people set fire to a wheelie bin, pushed it down a manhole that had been left uncovered and fused a huge amount of copper cable. The result? Shutdown. And weeks of disruption.

However, there are steps that you can take to reduce your ‘telecoms grief’ and understanding a few key points should help:

Supply chain

Do you know where your provider sits in the supply chain? They may be so far down the line that they will struggle to find out what’s wrong when there’s a problem.


Is my provider empowered to deliver the Service Level Agreement (SLA) they quote. Are their SLAs really meaningful?


How easy would it be to change supplier if they aren’t delivering? If you’ve been persuaded down the route of hosted voice then you’re completely at the mercy of your supplier.


Many ratecards are deliberately designed to confuse and it’s only when you interrogate your usage that you realise the costs are escalating beyond your control

Price Variation

All contracts will allow your supplier to pass on increases in the wholesale cost of the services they provide but, sadly, this open to significant abuse and may not be within the control of your supplier if they are right at the end of the supply chain.


Hosted voice will certainly become an increasingly attractive proposition for many businesses as it offers the opportunity to ‘rent’ every element of your telecoms requirement as a managed service on a per user, per month basis.

However, it relies on levels of bandwidth and connectivity that are way beyond what most businesses have in place (voice uses huge packets of data, significantly more than email for example, and unlike email, voice is ‘real-time’). 

In most instances, the cost of putting that connectivity in place will far outweigh any saving made on cost of ownership of the system.

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