Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MPLS Networks - Best Price or Best Value?

If you have been considering an MPLS network to connect various offices that you may have spread around the country or even spread across the globe in different parts of the world, what is it you are really looking for? Do you understand that MPLS technology can bring much more to the table than simply a replacement for your traditional and needlessly expensive point to point circuits? And what have you set as your top criteria for selecting the right service provider? If your answer to that last question is that price is the overriding factor, you may want to reconsider that choice.

First of all, you need to realize that MPLS technology is not a standard, like one that has been defined by the IEEE. Rather, it is a methodology or an approach to accomplishing specific tasks. What this means to you as the customer is that your "path of least resistance" in getting an MPLS network up and operating correctly is to use the same carrier at each node. The reason for this is because every network service provider has implemented MPLS slightly differently. While, in theory, it should be possible to have multiple different carrier's MPLS circuits talk to each other effortlessly, note that the keyword in that sentence is "in theory" because in most cases, it is almost an exercise in futility, and even in best case, your IT staff is going to be spending a lot of time doing tweaks and downright kludges to make it work correctly.

Back to the issue of price, and for this let's use the analogy of shopping for a new car. If you really want the comfort and ride provided by a new car in the Lexus class, can you really be serious about it if you have defined your budget to be in the 1965 VW Beetle class? The same is true of MPLS networks, and indeed, virtually any dedicated circuit from a simple T1 line up to 10 GB Ethernet. If you want brand new Lexus quality, you are not going to get it with 65 VW Beetle budgeting.

There are a lot of service providers out there who will offer what appears to be an excellent price on a particular MPLS network configuration. But can they really deliver? Further to that question, who are you going to ask to get that question answered? Of course any representative from that carrier is going to tell you it is the best thing since canned beer and sliced bread, but how can you get a real and objective opinion?

To look at it another way, let's say you select the lowest priced option. How much have you really paid for that circuit, beyond the figure on the invoice at the end of the month, if your IT staff is spending hours on the phone with the carrier every week to try to figure out why the circuit is not up or why your billing is not correct? Your IT staff doesn't work for free, so how much has that low-priced MPLS network really cost you?

Consider using a telecom broker who works with these kinds of circuits with many carriers 40+ hours a week, and is able to be "carrier agnostic", where they are not trying to push a particular carrier but instead wants to provide you with the best value based on who can service your locations at the best price, and knowing which carriers can do that well and which carriers are likely to cause problems? And they are more than willing to share that information with you so that you can make the best decision for your company.

Lowest price rarely is equivalent to best value and you need someone with experience in the telecom field to help you avoid the land mines that are invariably there. When you are shopping for your best value in an MPLS Network and want to ensure you are going to get the best pricing available from amongst carriers that can actually deliver, you need to talk with us. For more information, please visit our web site at

By Jon Arnold

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