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Second tier doesn't mean second rate

You wouldn’t give an entire large enterprise network to a carrier with $1-2 billion in annual sales, but you could certainly give such a carrier a lot of business.

The carriers in this category include tw telecom, PaeTec, XO, Level 3 and Global Crossing. They have issues—Global Crossing famously mistreated its enterprise customers after it went bankrupt almost a decade ago. But these are substantial companies with solid track records. They are frequently out front with new services (like SIP trunking) and where they have footprint—which is not everywhere—they are extremely competitive on both price and terms. By using them you both save money and set a benchmark for your major carriers.

Granite is a special case. It’s basically a nationwide local service reseller that offers attractive pricing and a really solid billing/management tool (at least by comparison to what you get from AT&T, Verizon and Qwest). And it doesn’t demand long commitments. The catch—which it won’t tell you unless you ask three times – is that its core services are tariffed (even when they don’t have to be, which is most of the time), the tariffs are one-sided, and they trump whatever contract terms you may think you negotiated. Then again, if this hurts you can always leave after a year or so without paying a substantial penalty.

By dividing up your telecom business between a tier 1 telco and one or more tier 2 carriers, you will save money on the tier 2 services and also create on-going leverage that you can use to persuade your tier 1 incumbent to remain competitive throughout the term of your contract.

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