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Michael Petrov
Co-Founder, CEO
2/7/2012
How To Deal With Telco Providers When Ordering Cross Connect For Your Business

One of the essential and most typically considered “basic” aspects of Enterprise IT is Telecommunication cross connections. For most IT management these connections are “simple”, but these “so-called simple” and crucial IT components have the potential to become the largest environmental pitfall. With hundreds of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) or Telecommunication vendors, these critical connections become the victims of quoting battles, similar to other IT constituents- the Winner, most likely the glorified “lowest bidder”.  However, before selecting the manufacturing vendor that agreed to meet your price-point, some apple to orange comparisons should be made that just might change the adjacent signature to the telecom contract you sign.

 

First, the BIG PICTURE–

You collocate equipment in a Datacenter and decide to have a private line for speed, security and insulation from the corporate office; Corporate Office- Point A, Colocation- Point Z.

 

The best situation is to have a Telco provider that has its own equipment in both places (POP – point of presents). This usually drives down cost and implementation time. Once an agreement is made, the vendor selected must configure a “virtual” path between equipment located in the POP of location “A” and “Z”.

 

From there, the scenario usually goes as follows- “We are ready, we have 2 ports setup, one in Point A and one in Point Z, now connect the switches or routers”. -This exact moment has to be discussed prior to ordering the line - what exactly will be delivered?

 Does the provider deliver hand of right to your switches/routers or have a port for you in their equipment that is in the same location as yours?

 

To go back to the basics for a minute for those of  whom made need a refresh, the connection between Telco equipment and your equipment is called a “cross-connect” and in the most cases is managed by the building. Telco from the building management perspective is a regular tenant.

 

Two huge factors- connection fees and distance: Telco from the building management perspective is a regular tenant, so building charge fees to capitalize as much as possible. For distance, depending on how far, the building might have to use fiber that would add an extra cost, level of complexity, and failure points. I fiber is involved but you agreed with Telco on Ethernet hand off, then there should be 2 media converters on each end of the fiber to convert FC into RJ45. Those converters are additional cost and points of failure.

Cross connect fees can be seen as a one-time installation fee that could vary from $1000 to $3000 or could be monthly ranging from $100 to $500 per month.

Going into a contract with a Telco and hoping to save $500 without accounting for cross connect fees on both ends might transform a mentality for savings into a position for losing money.  Also delivery time of cross connects from the buildings can dramatically effect deadlines. Some facilities are forced to use union workers and may cause weeks’ worth of delays.

It is always better to make the Telco provider responsible for cross connects. They know how to deal with facility managers, ordering procedures, and LOA.

Another problem might arise when a Telco that is giving you a perfect deal doesn’t have its own hardware in Point A or Point Z or both. In these cases a so-called Teclo “swap” must take place. Telco’s negotiate between each other at both points to either purchase “last mile” or swap it for services/bandwidth in other locations. These “swaps” cost money, so the Telco that is the “closer” to the client will always have leverage over other competing providers.

If a Telco partner of your choice is planning to do the swap you always have to know about it. You need to know who are the partners in the deal and what chain of swaps are involved. There are known industry horror cases when Telco partners were finger pointing to each other for problems and end client downtime. There are also cases when the Telco NOC (Network Operation Center) would not even know about the swap and would not be able to find circuit ID’s to push a problem ticket to its swapping partner.

 

Because of the numerous issues that companies face daily, Digital Edge advises the following:

1.       Besides the price look for Telco partners that would have equipment in both desired locations.

2.       Do not go with a partner that has more than 1 swap deal. The delivery would depend on the swap third party that you would not have control. Only if there is no other option you should go with a Telco that would require more than 1 swap.  

3.       Negotiate a delivery mechanism and types of hand-off and cross connect responsibilities. Plan and explicitly specify how cross connects will be delivered and who will be paying for them.

4.       Understand each cross connection solution, involved parties and NOCs. Keep records of all circuit IDs, NOC numbers, project manager’s and sales people contacts.

5.       Explicitly tell your Telco partner to label each circuit with an extra label for example: “Circuit deliver point to pint line for XYZ inc. Do not unplug without authorization of following people:”

Work with the Telco partner to make sure that the label is clear and help avoid outages caused by human mistakes. 

 

 Ask Digital Edge Sales Engineering for advice on your future Telco needs; cross connect architecture, MPL architecture and other Enterprise IT aspects.

   

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