Business class ISPs not ready for prime time
Over the last few years, a lot of consumer grade broadband technology has been marketed to businesses. Usually the ISP will call it “Business Class” or something like that, and charge a big markup. To justify the markup, they will do something like add a pittance of an SLA (like promising an onsite tech dispatch in 4 business hours), or maybe some guaranteed bandwidth, or possibly offer blocks of static IP addreses.
The problem is, these companies really do not understand what businesses need, even if the company owns another division that provisions T1 lines or other business class services. These companies create their “business class” offiering by having a seperate support number for those customers and putting some annotations on the contract, but the process is still based out of the consumer grade stuff.
Instead, these companies need to flip the equation around. Instead of trying to backport some of the process from the “enterprise class” groups to the consumer groups, they need to bring the consumer technologies into the mix that the “enterprise class” groups support and provision. Period. The fact is, with the way that the consumer grade groups approach things like customer satisfaction, cost cutting, customer service, technical support, etc. is not what businesses will tolerate.
Right now, I am having major problems with not one but two such companies. Verizon’s “Business Class FiOS” does not “get” the idea that customers with a block of static IP addresses do not want to just NAT everything behind their $50 router, they actually want to provide routing with a real device (in this case, a Cisco 1841 router). Time Warner’s “Business Class RoadRunner” service is simply falling all over itself over the fact that I moved… and every time I move, the way they handle things gets worse, not better.
These technologies should be creaming the established T1 and T3 providers. They cost a fraction of the price with just as much uptime and more bandwidth. But until these companies get their acts together in terms of how they handle customers, they will never be “business class” enough to capture huge amounts of true business customers, beyond small offices without dedicated IT staff.