In Part I of this series, we looked at the account-level and billing impacts that are likely to come from market consolidation within the telecom industry. In Part II, we’ll look at the technical or service impacts and how you can be informed and ready to take advantage of the changing market.
Service Availability/Compatibility: As acquiring/acquired carriers move to combine their operations, services, and networks, be careful not to assume the services from the acquired company will be compatible with the existing network and technology of the acquiring company, and vice versa. Also consider and understand from the carrier how they plan on managing the assets going forward – in some cases, acquired companies end up maintaining some separation and continue to act almost independently. While this may lessen the impact to your services, it may also affect your carrier’s ability to be competitive for the services that you are buying, i.e. if services are left as-is, they may be delivered with higher overhead and therefore higher cost to you the customer. Talk with your account rep around the supplier vision for the future, timing for consolidation, and what you can expect from an overall network/service consolidation standpoint.
Redundancy: As carriers bring their networks together, consider the redundancy/back up strategy you have in place. You may not be affected if your previous strategy established redundant circuits with one carrier, but do consider that the new/unified supplier may be looking to retire legacy services or consolidate their services, which may affect the redundancy you have in place. Plan to discuss with your carrier the redundancy strategy in place today, their plans for service retirement, any impacts that may be forthcoming to your back-up strategy, as well as any opportunities to improve your redundancy strategy based on the expanded footprint.
Re-provisioning: In order to take advantage of “one” carrier, you may have to re-provision your service to get services on the same network, have access to lower pricing, and consolidate to the same billing platform. Keep in mind that re-provisioning, even when moving from one platform to another within the same carrier (cough, Verizon’s VRD, cough) can create duplicate billing, inaccuracies, and bill management issues – this will likely only be amplified when dealing with separate carriers. Be prepared to discuss re-provisioning requirements, timing, costs (yes, they’ll tell you that you have to pay for a change they want or need you to make), and process with your carriers. When the re-provisioning is actually complete, ensure you are reviewing your service orders and invoices for accuracy and chasing those credits if (when) things are not correct.
Contracting/new agreements: If the change is significant enough, you may want to look at establishing an entirely new/revised MSA with the carrier, but before you do so, ensure that your current agreements are closely reviewed. Some of the larger carriers tend to have convoluted or inflexible contracting mechanisms and terms, so there is likely to be a cost/benefit associated with creating a new MSA. Consider your leverage position, overall spend, and future network strategy before jumping into a new contract with the acquiring carrier.
These service considerations, along with the billing and account management considerations discussed in Part I, are all key to managing change with your carriers. For any M&A activity that affects your organization, be sure to understand the options available to you, push conversations with your carriers so that you can prepare for the changes coming your way, and continue to review your own network strategy as the market continues to change.