Telecom is Broken Part II

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
Peter
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Telecom is Broken Part II

Amid phone calls with agents who are in a struggle over commission payments with carriers, I have been speaking with finance companies about telecom stocks. Lots of debt out there. Not really enough revenue to cover most debt.

The other problem I see is the operational issues that most telecom companies face. Just getting a quote out of most these companies is an ordeal. And the pricing is anything but standard. Two agents and a Direct will likely produce 3 separate quoted rates. WTH? And that's just to get a quote. Generating a contract, especially from the Death Star, can take up to 10 business days!!

One other discrepancy is that agent paperwork is usually more than a direct sales drones. We have to add a Letter of Agency (LOA), at the least, to show our permission to act on the client's behalf. We also usually have other paperwork - like credit applications - that directs get to skip. Why? No idea, but I have seen enough of it over the years.

So now we get the quote and the contracts. As the agent we explain why we need the LOA and that we won't be taking the client for a ride. We are the trusted advisor, right? Now with signatures and a mountain of paperwork, we submit the order. That's fun too. The order site crashes and saves no work. Start over. The email address doesn't auto-respond with a tracking number. (Re-submit. Re-submit. Call. UGH!)

Then we wait to hear if the order was accepted. Likely something on the paperwork will slow it up. Get that fixed requires being tricky or returning to the customer to explain how we missed a page or a signature or something. When we finally get a FOC date, we are half way there!

Last Ma Bell Internet T1 order, after the FOC date, no install because of address mismatch - over a suite number! One telco closet for the whole building and the address was the same as a DSL circuit and 3 phone lines that the RBOC was already billing to the disputed address.

In cases of fiber, there is usually customer premise make-read work to do. Likely, someone will be told what that work is but not any of the contacts on the paperwork. Even in the case of T1, conduit and other inside wiring issues could delay things.

So now we have the circuit installed. Just have to get it turned up. Tele-installs are great. One person reading from a script talking to the office manager. Eventually it works out.

My advice now is No Managed Router! Ma Bell has resorted to email only to make config changes on the router. No phone to call. One time the tech was in Raleigh. The second it was Singapore. Just to get NAT and DHCP turned on and the SIP phones to work.

The time versus compensation meter is tilting upside down. With rates sliding downward on every telecom service, commissions have too, which means agents are working harder in a broken system to make less money. And that's if you don't have any commission issues with the carrier, which every agent has. It's telecom for gosh sakes. Of course, there is commission errors. Billing errors too.  How did it get this broken?


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