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Long Distance | Lesser-Known Carriers

Lesser Known Carriers

The Value of Smaller, Lesser-Known Long Distance Providers

With many business decisions, brand names make a difference. The purchasing manager always buys Sharp copiers. The technology group routinely buys Dell desktop computers for all of their employees. And the executives insist on Herman Miller chairs in their offices.

So it makes sense that most business managers gravitate toward well-known long distance providers when it's time to choose the long distance service for their businesses. AT&T, Sprint and MCI/WorldCom are the three most well-known long distance providers out there - and these are the ones that many business managers automatically choose for their business needs.

But there are hundreds of "no-name" providers out there vying for your business - wouldn't it make sense to learn something about them before dismissing them from the purchase decision?

There's a good reason to consider a smaller, lesser-known long distance provider for your business: in most cases, these smaller companies are cheaper and provide the same level of service than the larger national providers. And in today's business environment, saving your business 35% to 50% a month on long distance can make a huge difference.

Why Haven't You Heard of These Smaller Long Distance Providers?

You've heard of the big three long distance providers in the U.S. - AT&T, Sprint, and MCI/WorldCom - through their advertising and public relations efforts, as well as through word-of-mouth.

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These three major providers spend upwards of three billion dollars a year to get their marketing messages across to potential customers. Big-league personalities like Michael Jordan star in their commercials, you've received their fliers in the mail, and you've gotten telemarketing calls from them during dinner. They're the most well-known providers because they spend money to be well-known.

The big three providers have the "everybody knows" momentum behind them, as well. The long distance provider names everyone hears about in the news, or when talking to friends or colleagues, are invariably the same few large companies that "everyone" else has heard of. These companies have large customer bases - "everyone" is a customer.

What about the providers you haven't heard of? Well, they choose to acquire their customers differently. Instead of spending money on advertising, they operate like the travel industry - agents bring customers to them.

No Advertising - The Advantage

The providers you've never heard of - such as W2Com, PowerNet Global and Pioneer Telephone - choose to use agents instead of advertising to sell their long distance services, and this helps them keep their rates and fees at a lower level than those of the big three.

So, the big three long distance providers spend a great deal of money on advertising. And they're able to spend that money because they have higher rates and a larger customer base.

The providers you've never heard of take the money they would have spent on advertising and use it to provide you with lower rates.

Smaller Customer Bases - The Advantage

As mentioned earlier, the smaller, lesser-known providers have smaller customer bases. This can be of a tremendous advantage to your business for a few important reasons.

They want - no, need - to keep your business. With a smaller provider, every customer counts. They can't afford for you to leave, and so they'll work harder to keep you happy. If your business has special needs, they'll bend over backwards to take care of them. If you have problems with your service or billing, they'll do their best to take care of you as quickly as possible.

They are available to you when you need them. With fewer customers to take care of, the smaller providers can take better care of the customers they do have. You're not just a number in a queue, you're an important account to them. That means they'll take care of you when you call, when you need them to, so your business doesn't experience long distance interruptions.

What About Service Quality?

Contrary to what you may think, service quality for the smaller providers isn't any different from that of the larger providers.

Smaller long distance providers use a variety of technologies to deliver long distance service to your business. Many of them are simply resellers, taking bandwidth from the bigger backbone providers, using their switches and lines and fiber optics, and simply repackaging the time and selling it to you at a cheaper rate. Other small long distance providers have their own equipment, switches and in some cases the lines and fibers to deliver their service to your door.

But regardless of how they deliver the service, in most cases, the quality is exactly the same as that of the bigger providers (because they're using the exact same equipment) or it is even better (because they're using their own, newer equipment).

Are Smaller Providers Always Better?

No, of course not. Just as every business is slightly different, every business will also have slightly different long distance needs.

There will be times when one of the "big three" providers is the best bet for your business. But chances are, you can find high quality long distance service for less money - and have a better customer service experience whenever you may need them - by going with a smaller long distance provider.

The key is simply this - don't discount the smaller providers. A name isn't everything - and in many cases, paying for a name like AT&T, Sprint or MCI/WorldCom just isn't worth the extra cash to your business.

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