Seven Important Questions to Ask Wired and Wireless Network Service Providers

As companies of all sizes migrate to hosted voice and data solutions, many prefer to outsource the management, monitoring, security and reporting of complex network functions to service providers. When selecting a service provider, decision-makers typically begin by evaluating features and benefits of the offered solutions, as well as the service provider’s background. Although these are important criteria, you must also delve deeply into the service provider’s network to ensure next-generation capabilities.

Seeking answers to these eight questions will help you make the right decision for your business:

  1. How resilient is the network?

All service providers talk about network resiliency, but can they provide objective data to support their claims? Look for failover and self-healing options. If one connection fails, traffic should be automatically re-routed to another connection. Do they have backup data centers? During a disaster, the provider should outline a recovery plan and demonstrate how they will help you maintain business continuity.

  1. How does the provider guarantee network performance?

You want to be sure a provider can meet your capacity requirements today and tomorrow. Analyze network speed, quality of service (QoS) and the provider’s future plans. Understand how the provider deals with traffic surges, maintaining constant Internet access and growing user demand.

  1. Is the network scalable?

A network must scale and support new technologies without requiring additional infrastructure. Determine if a provider’s network delivers multiple cloud services, such as voice, data, Internet and wireless LAN. Offering a variety of business-quality cloud services typically requires advanced networks.

  1. What level of connectivity does the network support?

Check to see if the provider guarantees end-to-end management of the network. Determine the network’s reach and connectivity, as well as the provider’s management policies. Evaluate the density of the network’s Points-of-Presence (POPs) – typically the shorter the distance between your sites and a POP, the lower the cost.

  1. What type of monitoring tools does the provider use?

Proactive, around-the-clock automated monitoring helps ensure a provider will detect and resolve network faults. A significant investment in high-performance detection, management and reporting tools can be a key provider differentiator.

  1. What service delivery does the provider promise?

Basically, you want to know what the service delivery agreement (SLA) guarantees. For example, how long do they say it will take them to fix a broken circuit? How much has the provider invested in the current infrastructure and what are their planned investments for future developments?

  1. What’s the level of support provided?

A provider can have the most advanced network available, but if the support is sub-standard, your operation could suffer. How does the provider offer support – through an online portal, phone and/or email? Is it available to you 24/7? Is the support function staffed by experienced professionals with the necessary expertise to solve issues? How easy is it to reach the support team? Are self-service options available to you to create incident tickets? What reports are available? Do you have access to a customer knowledge base?

Investigating network capabilities for outsourced voice and data solutions is critical to selecting the right service provider. The more thorough you are in your evaluation, the more confident you can be in your decision.

FairPoint Communications recently released a white paper on its hosted wireless solution. To learn more, download “How Managed Wireless LAN Solutions Transform Business Operations” today.

Bob is the Product Manager responsible for Hosted PBX at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.