When connecting customers to the best service options at their address, the difference between on-net and off-net buildings can be a big one. Service packages and the overall configure price quote (CPQ) process need to know whether any telecom services are on-net at a given location, whether it’s a carrier you represent or a competitor in the local market.
For our purposes in this article, “on-net” refers to a carrier that owns network facilities at a particular location. “Off-net” refers to a solution provider that connects the location to their own network by purchasing the network facility through a supplier relationship.
Many consumers and businesses may not think about on-net versus off-net properties when choosing a location, but the availability of these services can have a big impact on both the services and service package pricing that makes sense for these customers. Here are six things you should know about the differences between on-net and off-net buildings.
1. On-net buildings are traditionally more attractive to potential customers.
For businesses seeking office space, on-net buildings can be attractive for their reliable, built-in connectivity, which eliminates concerns about serviceability and/or technology installation. Customers traditionally have been interested in their local infrastructure only, which guides their technology decisions toward suppliers that own the technology asset at those particular locations.
With the expansion of cloud-based services, business customers are now equally concerned with both the supplier at the office location and the supplier(s) in the cloud at key locations such as data centers. This creates a more complex matrix of suppliers to consider.
2. On-net buildings are strategically located.
Telecom carriers can’t afford to build telecom infrastructure at every address. As a result, they have to choose locations strategically based on the markets they’re targeting, as well as their proximity to other on-net properties. Typically, on-net buildings represent a telecom company’s concerted effort to win market share in a specific location or region.
More and more facility-based on-net carriers are expanding their coverage area using off-net supplier relationships. These relationships fill in the gaps of service territory, allowing their customers to use on-net service as a one-stop shop for any address.
3. Serviceability at off-net buildings can be tougher to evaluate.
Solution providers specialize in combining their own services (i.e., network, managed, cloud, and voice) with underlying carrier suppliers they buy from (i.e., off-net) to build a full solution. More and more carriers are becoming solution providers, blurring the lines between these distinct telecom entities.
Solution providers struggle to express their network presence to customers because this network presence includes underlying off-net suppliers. But this information is becoming more and more valuable for those working in the cloud, creating new demand for evaluation tools that can fully understand presence at an address.
One of the most common requests of solution providers is to disclose the underlying carrier they’re using to deliver the solution at that address. This can be an important step in understanding true serviceability.
4. Off-net solutions can offer important benefits to customers.
Although off-net serviceability is traditionally harder to evaluate, it has become more and more important when trying to find a service solution across many locations that spares customers of managing service connections and bills from dozens of carriers. Even though off-net solutions mean your supplier is buying from another carrier, you can still obtain the same level of service-level agreements (SLAs) you are accustomed to with on-net service.
With solutions spanning from local addresses, to home offices, to data centers within cloud infrastructure, off-net suppliers may represent a better onramp to your cloud infrastructure even though they lack local access to a building. This results in a better overall solution to your telecom needs, including improved performance for your applications and managed services.
5. Telecom sales teams need access to accurate on-net and off-net building data.
Evaluating a carrier or solution provider's on-net and off-net allows you to understand their true network presence, not just owned last-mile assets. This can bring clarity to more complex technical situations.
To properly evaluate on-net or off-net serviceability, you need to understand the technology that is deployed at those locations. To design solid service solutions and sales packages, the sales team needs to understand the Rating Precision—how close a technology is to the target—for each provider at an address.
6. Having a comprehensive tool to evaluate on-net and off-net gives you an advantage.
How do you know whether a building is on-net or off-net? The best way is to make sure your tools can thoroughly research on-net versus off-net (including underlying suppliers, when possible), and that you have the ability to understand how close the technology is to your target address.
These tools contain valuable data to guide your research in the CPQ process, but they’re only useful to your research when they feature the most updated information possible. As a result, it’s important to use research tools that can access as much on-net and off-net data as is available in your target area. Telecom software research tools can help you ensure this information is up to date and accurate.
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