For businesses, timely and reliable communication within the organization and with customers is a critical part of success.
Telecommunication services, provided by a carrier or telecom provider, make this possible. Here are four major benefits telecom services provide to your organization.
4 Benefits Telecom Services Bring
1. Improved Communication
Through both wired and wireless methods, telecom services provide the network for information to be exchanged electronically. This information is shared from room to room or across the country. Examples include telephone, internet-connected computers, fax machines and handheld communication devices.
Smartphones and tablets have increased capabilities through mobile communication. Employees can use these devices to access information and applications, work on documents, send and receive emails and join conversations via teleconference.
2. Enhanced Team Collaboration
Do you have cross-functional teams within your organization who work on corporate initiatives, new products, programs and/or marketing campaigns? They likely get together on a regular basis to discuss progress and share ideas. Telecom services provide the access and communication capabilities needed to bring employees together and make progress on any joint ventures.
3. Increased Flexibility
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work from home has grown 115 percent since 2005. If you have remote employees in your organization, or your employees are required to travel frequently for training and client meetings, the appropriate telecom services can help them stay connected.
4. Premier Customer Service
Since its creation in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone remains one of the most relied upon methods of communication. Customers will pick up the phone and call your organization because it’s convenient, reliable and provides instant gratification.
The ability to connect through the Internet 24/7 has become essential to your ability to service these customers. The communication between your organization and your customers can reinforce your brand and your relationship with your prospective and current customers, but to do this you need a dependable connection.
What About Telecom Carrier Provider Options?
With so many ways to benefit businesses, it might (or might not) surprise you to learn that the telecommunication industry is one of the most competitive areas of business in the United States. Why is this industry so competitive and so important?
Understanding Telecommunications Carriers
A telecommunications carrier is a company that's been authorized to operate a communication system. This can include landlines and cellular phones, internet, VoIP services and more. This means that nearly every business stands to benefit from telecom services, including yours.
When it comes to options, most people are familiar with the large, national brands. These companies often bring a level of reliability that can't be found in any other company. But no matter where you are in the nation, there are likely smaller, regional providers that have benefits of their own. You'll even find that companies that started out in television are now offering telecom services as well, giving you the chance for "one-stop shopping."
Telecommunications Carrier Options Infographic
If this is starting to sound confusing, that's because it is. It can be pretty tough to figure out what services are right for you. But all is not lost. I put together this infographic to help make sense of your telecom carrier options. Check it out:
Here's a deeper look at some of the benefits of each provider type.
Tier 1: National Providers
Companies like AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and Comcast are all considered national providers. These are the largest telecom companies in the nation. Some of them, like AT&T, have roots that date back to the 1800s. These providers are typically seen as the most reliable because of their financial stability and capabilities. With these providers, you know you're going to get high quality — but it may be at a higher cost.
Tier 2: Regional Providers
Companies like Birch, Cox, Windstream and Frontier provide services only to a localized region or a number of states. This doesn't mean their services only work in those states, but that their network and customers reside in that regional area. You might find that these companies are more responsive to problems, or that they're more in-tune with issues that affect your specific area. Many times, these companies are more affordable than national brands, but you might find they don't offer as many features, or don't have as strong of a network.
Tier 3: Cable Combination Providers
Several cable companies like Charter and Time Warner Cable have combined business and residential services, meaning your Internet, home phone, business phones and cell phones can be combined into one account and one bill. This is likely the easiest setup to have, and these companies almost always offer discounts for bundling services. These services are often considered "best effort" services.
The Role of a Carrier Agent
If you're trying to figure out what company to choose, it can be a little daunting. A carrier agent, like Marco, is a company that has agreements with several telecommunication carriers to sell services on their behalf. The advantage of carrier agents is that they'll shop across available options, instead of requiring you to wade through each company's offerings yourself, trying to decide what's best.
When you trust a carrier agent to handle your telecom needs, the hard work is done for you. They take on the responsibility of finding what's available and present it to you. Your invoicing, repair and contract are all still directly with the company you choose. You're still eligible for the discounts they offer, but you're making the process of choosing incredibly easier. The best part of a carrier agent is that you're paying the exact same cost you would otherwise. In fact, most times you even save money. When you choose your services through a carrier agent, there's a good chance you'll find out about offerings you never knew existed.
Finding the Right Telecom Carrier
What do we recommend? Most often you’ll need a combination of providers, perhaps including a national or regional brand. This helps ensure that you always have reliable communication available. If you are responsible for your communications or network infrastructure for a major corporation, or your own small business, you know first-hand that telecom terms can be confusing. That's why I've included a glossary of commonly used telecom terms to help.
Glossary of Telecom Terms
This list of the most commonly used terms offers a good foundation to understand telecom and carrier services.
- Telecom Carrier: This term defines any company that has the authorization to operate a telecom services network that enables communication between organizations and individuals. Examples of telecom carriers include AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Also referred to as a telecom provider.
- Telecom Carrier Consultant: A telecom carrier consultant is a separate company that has agreements with various telecom carriers to sell and support their services. Carrier consultants help your business select the services and products that best suit your business operation. This includes finding the right voice, Internet, data and cloud services that meet a company's short- and long-term goals. Also referred to as a telecom agent.
- Redundancy: Redundancy ensures that when equipment fails or is updated, services from a telecom provider aren't interrupted. This should be thought of as a security blanket for your telecom services.
- Telecom Audit: Telecom audits provide an in-depth overview of telecom services. A typical audit looks for billing errors in telecom invoices, charges for unnecessary services, misapplied fees and overages.
- Carrier Services: Another broad term, this applies to any service offered by a carrier, such as internet access, voice communications or any software-as-a-service application.
- Connectivity: This generally applies to any connection your network has to the Internet or other networks.
- Hosted Services: These are the services offered by a hosted provider on a per-user basis, rather than a direct hardware or software purchase. This includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Video as a Service (VaaS).
- Hosted Provider: A company that offers hosted or cloud computing services, whether at your location, in their own data center or at a third-party hosting facility.
- Service Level Agreement (SLA): A contract between a service provider and the end user that defines the service performance agreed upon.
- Support Web Portal: Generally speaking, a web portal is one specific web page that provides support information from diverse sources. A support web portal offers information and support to end users and IT professionals in need of assistance.
- Telecom Expense Management (TEM): A service or process that allows organizations to manage their diverse telecom assets and services, validate vendor invoices and control spending.
- Network-to-Network Integration (NNI): Solutions that integrate the various IT services a business relies upon, such as wireless and cloud-based applications to coordinate smoother day-to-day operations.
- Competitive Local Exchange Carrier: This term defines companies that compete with previously established local providers by establishing their own network and switching centers.
Reaping the Benefits of Your Telecom Network
Your business relies upon a vast telecommunications network to maintain effective and efficient contact between employees, remote workers and clients that interact with your company on a daily basis. A telecom network represents a significant investment for any company, from the original purchase and installation of hardware and software, to the ongoing monthly carrier services costs.
What is Telecom Network Management?
Telecom network management allows your company to better track and control expenses related to your telecom network. These services are designed to provide your business with the tools it needs to manage the lifecycle of its communication network.
Telecom network management also offers a holistic view of your telecom network’s expenses and performance through advanced system analysis and reporting. There are many ways telecom expense management can help your business, but to keep it simple, let’s look at the two primary benefits: billing audits and contract negotiations.
Have you looked at your carrier service bill lately? If you have, you’ll understand why many organizations don’t take the time to review their statements, and simply just pay the bill. The breakdown of carrier costs can be confusing, making it easy for errors to be missed or additional charges to be hidden. Typical billing errors range from 12-20%.
A telecom expense management provider can audit your past bills and easily spot inaccuracies. If they identify errors, they will recover incorrect payments on your behalf and communicate the mistake to avoid future issues. Whether it’s improper billing practices, poorly leveraged services or simple human error, an effective telecom expense management process can help correct these problems.
When Should Audits Take Place?
Carrier service bill audits can be beneficial in multiple circumstances.
- You notice your rates keep changing
- Your final payment amount keeps increasing
- Your contract is up for renewal
- You're contracting with a new carrier
- You're making infrastructure changeslike
- Adding a new office
- Making technology upgrades
In these cases, your provider can not only audit your bills, but they can also analyze your current services and help you identify what adjustments need to be made to accommodate your infrastructure changes. Then, they can negotiate with your carriers on your behalf, which brings us to the next benefit.
As your business considers updating equipment or changing services to accommodate new business needs, it is crucial to update contracts from carriers and vendors. This helps secure agreements that reflect current market conditions that are in line with your budget and operational goals. Without monitoring and managing these agreements, your company could end up paying too much for the services you receive.
Telecom network management helps ensure annual contract requirements are met, while eliminating any unnecessary or misplaced costs.
ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT WHEREver and Whenever YOU NEED IT
Keeping track of billing and invoices for telecom network expenses is a difficult task for many businesses. Few companies have the resources and/or expertise available to review telecom charges on a regular basis.
Audit and negotiation services offered through telecom network providers protect your bottom line by identifying problem areas in spending, recovering losses and ensuring your network runs at peak efficiency.