How to choose your telco provider
By Anthony Caruana | March 10, 2014
Looking for a new telco provider? Here's a step-by-step guide to choosing the right provider for your business's communication needs.
As a small business, your telco will probably deliver your mobile phones, landlines, fax and internet connection. In short, your telco will keep your business connected with the rest of the world, which means you want to choose the best one for your business. So how do you go about it?
It might seem daunting to sift your way through all the different plans and services offered by the various large telcos and other resellers, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. Like all complex tasks, the best way to attack the problem is by breaking it up into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Step 1: Work out what you need
Think about when you visit the supermarket. When you enter without a shopping list, you inevitably either forget something or end up spending money on something you didn't really want.
Choosing a telco is the same thing.
Make a list of all the different services you need and then limit it to the obvious things like phone lines, mobiles and internet. Think about some of the extras that will be of value. For example, do you want to receive a single bill for everything each month? Is it important that you can visit a store for support or are you happy with phone support?
As a business customer, will you receive prioritised support for services such as handset replacements or new SIM cards. Your telco may also provide you with some account management support, possibly even your own account manager. Make your list and prioritise the items.
Step 2: Set your budget
It should go without saying, but it's critical that you set a budget. That way you can decide where to best allocate your money if you have to choose between your prioritised lists. A budget will help you stay focused on the services that are important for you and will stop you from being tempted to buy services that sound interesting but you don't really need.
Step 3: Shop around
Most telcos offer very similar services, but the way they package and combine them can make them difficult to compare. Like any major purchase, it's important to look at more than one option before deciding which is best.
Step 4: Get out your calculator
Calculating the charges and fee structures with some telcos can be complex. For example, working out the cost of mobile phone calls and how caps work can be challenging.
Two telcos might offer a business plan that includes $500 of calls for the same monthly fee. However, they will most likely have different flagfall rates and charge different amounts in different time increments. So a 60-second phone call with one telco might have a significantly different cost to another.
Look at the fee structures and make the best possible estimate of what you need and what you can afford before signing on the dotted line.
Step 5: Get the right contract
Most telcos will let you move up to higher service levels without penalty, but dropping back to a less expensive arrangement will often come with some sort of financial penalty.
Once you've chosen your preferred telco and selected the services you'll receive, choose monthly arrangements that leave some room in your budget. Closely monitor your activity for the first couple of months. If the caps and bandwidth you start with prove to be inadequate, you can choose to upgrade. If there's no need, then you won't have overspent by choosing contracts that over-service your business.
Your telco is one of your most important business partners. Make sure you start with what you need, stick to your budget and do your research.