AU companies overpaying for fixed voice services

When it comes to your company phone bill, you could be paying AU$100,000 a year more than another company which has similar usage patterns, according to a recent survey.Telecommunications research company Telsyte, which provides benchmarking reports for government agencies, has examined the prices businesses paid for fixed voice services in 2003.

When it comes to your company phone bill, you could be paying AU$100,000 a year more than another company which has similar usage patterns, according to a recent survey.

Telecommunications research company Telsyte, which provides benchmarking reports for government agencies, has examined the prices businesses paid for fixed voice services in 2003. The report found the price for a business making 25,000 outbound inter-capital voice calls a month using the popular ISDN 30 service ranged from a minimum yearly cost of AU$49,000 to as high as AU$156,000.

The largest discrepancy in amount paid occurred between companies with a large volume of calls. The smaller the number of calls, the smaller the range in price was. For an office making 1,000 calls a month under the same conditions as above, the prices paid ranged from AU$8,000 to AU$15,000 a year.

Shara Evans, managing director Telesyte, says the discrepancy in the amounts paid occurred for a variety of reasons, such as the customer not picking the most appropriate plan for the company or the customer not negotiating a good price with the provider. It also may be, she said, that a contract signed years ago has not been updated for new plans and rates.

-Over the last couple of years, charges for telephony have dropped so if you are on an older plan you could be paying a lot more," says Evans.

Another cause of wide-ranging charges is in the 1300-number market. Charges for local 1300 calls are levied on both the caller and the company they are calling. However, the company will receive a certain amount of free call time.

The monthly call charges for 25,000 local inbound 1300 calls range from AU$700 to AU$16,000. Telesyte theorises that the large discrepancy must be caused by the varying amount of free time the company receives. In the report it states: "It appears that not all organisations realise that some carriers/service providers begin charging after 10 minutes, and some only after 15 minutes".

Evans says for a large company spanning multiple offices, taking the time to examine the company's call patterns will help to pick the most appropriate plan, which could lead to savings in the millions of dollars.

To get a good idea of your company's call patterns, Evans says you need to include in your analysis the duration of calls--which will help decide flagfall should come in, the ratio of inbound to outbound, where the calls are coming from, and how many concurrent calls you have, ie how many of the company staff members are on the phone at any particular time.

"It may be complicated, but there could be some very serious dollars at stake," says Evans. "The flat rate for local calls is from 3c to 17c, which might not sound like much because it is in cents, but depending where the flagfall ticks in at, you could have quite a dramatic variation in the real charges.

If you haven't tried to model what happens with your call usage patterns, you might not pick the best plan".

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