Recently, GeekWire Studios connected with Rick Crabbe president of Threshold Communications to get some insight into what trends and best practices are being deployed as it relates to enterprise business and their network infrastructure.
GeekWire Studios: For those readers that are not familiar with Threshold Communications can you describe what Threshold does?
RC: Threshold is a single-source global voice and data connectivity provider. Our focus is on delivering the best connectivity options available to multi-location, enterprise business.
GeekWire Studios: Why would a business want to use Threshold instead of using one of the larger guys, like Centurylink, Comcast or ATT?
RC: Most larger carriers primary focus is getting customers onto their own networks. That is where they are most profitable. Our primary focus is buying access from these carrier owned networks only, based on our client’s location(s). We procure and or have access to thousands of carrier fiber networks around the world. Imagine being able to access any carrier network on the planet, customizing your entire network with the very best options by location, packaged up on a single, simple to read, provided in US currency invoice, with a single 24/7/365 customer support number, all done under one Master Service Agreement, at very competitive pricing. These are just a few reasons clients buy from us.
GeekWire Studios: What problem does Threshold solve?
RC: When I first got into telecom twenty years ago, most enterprises were trying to find single carrier solutions. Simplifying was the goal. In doing so, they found it meant significant tradeoffs that often meant, significant turn over in sales reps, overpriced circuits, chronic invoice errors, customer support made up of many groups and skillsets, complicated and unfriendly Master Service Agreements, the list goes on and on. Consumers are always best served when they are in a position of strength and this is lost with the traditional approach of buying telecom services. We have created the platform to change that user experience.
GeekWire Studios: Who are your competitors?
RC: In our world there are three main categories of competitors – They all serve a purpose or need for consumers. All carriers have a direct sales teams that reach out to consumers directly. This is very much the traditional approach to buying telecom. You also have your agent brokers that represent many various carriers and their networks. Agent brokers receive commission from a carrier if their client buys service through that carrier. With this approach and agent broker has many carrier options available. However, as it relates to Customer support, invoicing and contracts, consumers still work with the underlying carriers directly. Lastly, there are aggregators/resellers/CLECs. This is the category we fit into. We can buy from almost any carrier in the World. No matter how many carriers make up a client’s solution, whether it be sales, project provisioning, customer support, invoicing or Master Service Agreement, so on, Threshold is the single source for it all. Our clients tend to be different than the clients buying from the other two categories, but on paper I guess these groups best represent our competition.
GeekWire Studios: Given the value Threshold provides, why wouldn’t a company use a Threshold –
RC: I ask myself that question every day. Based on our own client and prospect feedback, we are constantly evolving, adjusting what and how we do things, to make the choice simple for clients. We are not trying to be the best at what others are already doing, we are trying to do what no one else is doing. There is an old saying in our business “No one has ever gotten fired for using ATT”. Meaning, if an IT executive buys from a big named company and something goes wrong, leadership is less likely to question that manager’s decision. The other concern is that as a reseller we might somehow slow down the support process and lastly, pricing. Do we cost more than if purchasing via another group? We do not have a stadium named after us and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. My experience has been carrier issues and outages do not discriminate based on if a service is purchased from the carrier direct sales team, indirect or via a reseller like us. All carriers, in all groups have outages. A good network design, with real carrier network diversity, which includes multiple carrier networks, in our opinion is superior to any single carrier solution, 100% of the time.
Addressing us potentially being a slowdown in support: Our support is designed to provide live voice interaction within seconds of dialing in to report an issue. Our support team is putting in support tickets with carriers all day every day. We are extremely organized and efficient on how to navigate or escalate within an underlying carrier’s NOC. We are also staffed with a really great engineer team to help protect our Clients and prevent some of the traditional support finger-pointing that takes place. With regards to pricing/costs: Most if not all our clients originally moved to our solution to either a) Save a lot of money for like service b) get substantially more bandwidth for the same cost c) desired a more resilient network solution or d) found that the vendor management of dealing with many carriers, sales groups, support groups, contracts, disputing issues with carriers, project rollouts, invoicing issues, and more was in itself costing far more time and money than they ever anticipated. We are basically running a mini RFP on every single opportunity, we then provide a dedicated projects person, invoicing is accurate and disputes settled almost same day, we are staffed with Senior engineers who dive in to triage complicated problems with unbiased approach, adding a new carrier to the network is a non-issue because our single MSA covers all our carrier networks around the world. The advantage we have is the flexibility of options, being agile is a wonderful gift we intend to continue sharing with our clients.
GeekWire Studios: how can our audience reach connect if they have any interest in learning more or connecting with your company?
It costs us so much more money to acquire a new customer vs just keeping the existing ones happy. We have an extremely high retention rate.