- What is the Service Level Agreement or SLA?
Most broadband providers merely submit an agreement to the purchaser expecting no changes and for the fine print to go unread. Most buyers do not disappoint. It is very important to review any SLA presented by a service provider and to understand what your recourse is when things go wrong and your business suffers a disruption of service. The typical SLA offers an availability of 99.9% up time for any given month or the inverse, 43 minutes of downtime per month. The good news is that broadband supplied by a reputable carrier seldom goes down but you and the carrier need to be prepared for the inevitable time when it does. In some cases you may be able to change the terms of the SLA to 99.99% but it is more important to negotiate acceptable remedies than be concern over that last nine.
So, what will the carrier do if you experience a service interruption? Behind the scenes technicians and field personnel will work hastily to fix the problem to stay within the mean time to repair stated in the SLA. However, if the terms of the SLA kick in, your expectations of credits, reimbursements and other remedies should be agreed upon in advance. Do not expect a carrier to cover the revenue loss while the service was down. Most will not expose themselves to that level of risk. Consequently, in addition to monetary remedies, take the time to negotiate a right to terminate the service if the number and length of service interruptions exceed a given threshold. Your right to terminate should waive any early termination fees or de-installation costs.
- How is the service provisioned?
There are two sides to getting your broadband activated. One is the physical side that you see, hardware, cabling and, perhaps, a field technician. The other is what you don’t see, the carrier’s backend systems that actually assign and turn up the circuit. Both need to be “visible” to you. This can be most effectively accomplished via online portals that allow you to monitor each step of the provisioning process towards getting your requested broadband. Take the time to review the features and functions of the portal, access to customer service and online help (FAQs or email support). Finally, make certain what was installed is what was ordered. Broadband has become a critical component to most businesses. Even the sandwich shop on the corner views its broadband as important since it began accepting online orders and payment.
Follow these seven things and your experience in acquiring broadband will go well and you will have positioned your business to prosper. Once done, you will have purchased from a reputable carrier the appropriate amount of broadband at a reasonable cost with an expected level of quality and support. And that’s what we want.