Yankee Group: Wholesale Buyers Look for Differentiation

When it comes to quality among wholesale service providers, Sprint Corp. and BellSouth Corp lead the pack, according to new research from Yankee Group.

The firm polled more than 140 wholesale buyers, ranging from RBOCs and ILECs to IXCs, CLECs, resellers and integrators for its report, Yankee Group 2005 U.S. Wholesale Data Services Survey.

Wholesale customer respondents named Sprint the best in technical expertise, while users hailed MCI Inc. as the top in network performance, Yankee Group said. Meanwhile, after price, network performance was rated the most important criterion to wholesale buyers searching for a data service provider. The survey also showed 68 percent of wholesale buyers ranked providers technical expertise as somewhat good or very good regardless of the span of available products and services.

At the same time, 74 percent of wholesale buyers ranked their providers overall quality as somewhat good or very good.

The companies falling into mid-place, after Sprint and BellSouth, were AT&T, Global Crossing, Level 3 Communications Inc., MCI, SBC Communications Inc. (now AT&T Inc.) Verizon Communications Inc. and WilTel, which has been acquired by Level 3.

With many players offering near-identical price offerings, differentiation has become very difficult for providers in the wholesale data services market, said John Romagnoli, senior analyst for Yankee Groups wholesale communications strategies unit. Customers are now looking to network performance and overall quality as the deciding factors for purchasing these services. This places wholesale providers in a good position to leverage positive buyer experiences and rankings in network performance when negotiating contracts and responding to RFPs.

AT&T Inc.
BellSouth Corp.
Global Crossing
Level 3 Communications Inc.
MCI Inc.
SBC Communications Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc.
Yankee Group

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