Tom,

CP is not a middle man. CP is the VOIP CLEC providing the service.
Someone like Reignmaker or another ISP would be the middle man.

Actually, CP is using the L3 model.
But to say that a Reseller does not present costs to the vendor is incorrect. Training for one. With CP you get to send up to 4 people to classes in Vegas.
Most of the time/effort/energy is for the first couple of orders.
No start-up wants to use that much $$ to get 20 lines going.
And billing (and associated collections) does have costs as well.
Plus I won't get into the fact that LNP and E-911 are hard to automate. The LNP is handed off to L3. But OSS inter-operability with the 4 BOCs, Sprint, Alltel/Valor, and the myriad of miscellaneous independent ILECs and CLEC is not an easy task for Voice service.

And if you look at the space: 1200+ providing VOIP to the EU.
About 300+ providing retail and wholesale.
I've watched wholesalers go BK.
Why do you think L3 got out of it?

I'm not saying CP's strategy is the best. Just that I understand it and if that is there model. Great.
I do see others following suit.

On the flip side, DIY VOIP, while attractive to the hands-on people on this list, is not always the best method. And with LNP, E-911 and federal/state fee collections, why bother when you can buy turnkey? Like Doug MacDonald says: IF you can not build it faster, cheaper and better, then buy it - don't build it.

Not to keep badgering, but if voice was so easy, why did so many CLECs collapse??
VOIP is not data at the EU space.
They may get mad about email issues, but if dial-tone don't work, your name will be mud.
Imagine having a decent network size, good reputation, happy customers.
Then start offering VOIP and have a few unexpected issues like bad call quality, busy signals, dropped calls.
Won't be long before people won't want your data product either.

I take issue with the Commodity market. If you think it is a commodity market, you don't understand the value yourself, so your employees and customers don't either. Then you have to sell on price. You need to take a class with Gitomer. He'll fix that attitude.

Also, remember, if you can prioritize your network for your preferred VOIP provider, you cannot fault the BOCs for doing the same to their network.

Just me 2 cents.

Peter

Tom DeReggi wrote:

I've recomended CommPartners many times to WISPs, as a good choice for someone thats willing to pay the upfront fee, as their QOS and Value is high compared to other offerings in the space. Sales team was very responsive. Technically they were very responsive as well and appeared to be solid. However, now that someone has responded to my original post, its got me thinking, and I have to vent a small rampage.

I agree and understand your explanation, and Commpartner's intent. I just think its the wrong view to have.

There is no need for resellers (middle men) in VOIP. It just creates billing/cashflow headaches for everyone involved, not to mention support issues. That problem was learned with the DSL model. With DSL it was justified because the cost to have a DS3 pipe to each small volume ISP provider just wasn't realistic. So it was a technology barrier and cost barrier that justified the middleman model that included resellers. In VOIP there is no value added by the middle man, to justify it. There are better way to motivate partners than to create barrier to entry. What it really does is just deter partnerships from ever happening. Big volume is made by having a lot of small partners that sell a little bit, rather than a few partners that sell a lot. It sends a message that Commpartners only wants to deal with the big fish, or our competitors (ILECS / Cable companies), and thats not what I call an allie. How much time does it really take for a wholesaler like Commpartners to deal with a small WISP doing low volume? Its an automated web portal to do business!!! The truth is, the $5000 fee is a way for CommPartners to cover it's sales people's commissions. Wholesalers need to put as many resellers on the street as they can, some work, some don't, and if there are enough out there trying, the odds are you'll also get the ones that are successful. Everyone has potential, its near impossible to know in advance which partners end up being the volume ones. All that should matter is if there is scenargy between the two partner companies, and a likely hood that their is a match in the vision of the two parties. If CommPartners can't cost justify partnerships with low volume WISPs, then it really means CommPartners is not yet at the stage where it is automated enough yet, or its operations are not yet efficient enough to handle a large number of partners. That exposes a weakness in CommPartners. Success in VOIP is a race to obtain subscribers. They should be taking on EVERY partner they can get their hands on. If they don't recognize that, I fear they may not be one of the survivors, and should I select a VOIP provider that I think may not survive? Just about 50% of my subscribers use VOIP today, only two of them use the CommPartners reseller that I recommend and use. Thats because my clients want to buy VOIP from me, not from someone I refer. Otherwise they shop it. I'm the marketing engine who has the customer's trust, not a third party reseller. Its me that knows about how to get to my client, not the third party reseller. So what if I do high volume, why is it necessary for a partnership? The relationship is as easy to manage as a List server and a web portal. This is a commodity market, customers want cheapest price, and the person responsible for customer retention and sales should be rewarded by commissions, not a middle man that serves no valid purpose. There is no room for a middle man. If there is, the offering will not be competitive enough for consumers, or not profitable enough for us to bother marketing.

I do not recommend that any WISP sell VOIP through a middle man. There is to big a risk not having a contractual agreement between you (WISP) and wholesaler that is providing service to your end user. The man in the middle makes it impossible for the WISP to protect themselves legally in the partnership. Its a disaster waiting to happen.

The only way I think buying from a reseller makes since is, if you are also buying other bundled services from the reseller as well. For example, if a wholesale WISP, was a reseller for a company like a CommPArtner, and bundled that for its resellers and agents, that would make since. Just about all WISPs or ISPs will have resellers, agents, or referall partners. So its logical for a WISP to become a direct reseller partner for a wholesle VOIP provider like Commpartners. But why would a WISP want top take on a service from a provider that they as well could not extend to their resellers and agents? Four levels deep is undoable in VOIP. CommPartners needs to understand that WISPs have resellers. Charging someone for Partnership is the most rediculaous thing that I have ever heard in my life. Its just stupid. That why we never ended up partnering with CommPartners directly. Its not that we couldn't afford the $5000, its just that why should we pay it? What value did I receive for my $5000? I got the largest network in my three surrounding states, colocated on top of over 200 MTU buildings, and 5 out of the 10 largest management companies in the palm of my hand, why would I pay someone for them to have access to my assets? I personally took it as an insult that they did not view me as a valuable enough candidate for a partnership, that they had to charge me $5000 to reduce their risk. What about reducing my risk? What about the thousands of dollars in marketing I'd end up doing, without a guarantee on how well they would support our clients? They wanted me to take a leap of faith, but were not willing to take a leap of faith themselves. Its hippocritical. Hardly a basis for a trusting partneship. What makes their side of the partnership more valuable than mine? Their real fear is that they WON"T be able to support me well enough, and that if I don't put skin in the game, it will be to easy for me to switch to another VOIP partner that does.

What I'm critisizing is their management and views on building their channels. They advertise partnership, but do not have true partnership mentality. I believe the most important thing to evaluate when choosing a partner is wether you see eye to eye with the management of the other company, that is something that likely will not change over time. The technical side is always solvable, and challenges can be tackled when minds are put togeather.

My mentality is I pay my sales people, they can pay theirs. I'm looking for a partner not another vendor. If they want my partnership, they have to earn it, I'm surely not going to buy theirs.

My opinion is nobody controls when and where I spend my marketing efforts. The demands of my core business have priority. Thats something I don't loose control of. The last thing I need is a sales rep on my back, because he didn't make his quota from me one month, presuring me to make sales in an area that may not be my priority. (For example pushing managed business services, if I'm catrering to residential). I need a partner that can give me consistent plans in advance and loyalty long term, so I can build and grow a business model around them. Even if I never did one sale personally, Compartners should have made us a partner jsut so we'd prioritize performance to their VOIP servers over our network. Think about it, do you think I'm going to allow the same performance to our competitive VOIP provider as I do to our own VOIP services? By getting us to be a Partner for them, we'd optimize them for our own benefit, and indirectly Comm Parnters would guarantee that our network would be optimized for every other reseller of theirs that used our network. I would have cost them ZERO dollars, to guarantee that RAPIDDSL would optimize their performacne regardless of what method they used to obtain and market clients located on our network! So what if I never solf a circuit? They could have picked any of their resellers to market on our network, without fear of performance issues. Its the same reason I always give management companies in the building FREE broadband, they can't pull the plug if it also cuts them off. They should be making me a partner just so I omtimize performance for their clients. CommPartners doesn't get it. WISPs also aren't necessarilly the sales guy. I let my building management companies and Network consulting firm agents drive my leads and sales. Whether high volume VOIP sales are made depends on them as well. I need to know I can have a consistent plan to offer them. Wether it sells successfully depends on wether the wholesale option is competitive enough to attact the subscribers and profitable enough to attract the resellers, and has nothing to do with wether I have "skin in the game". You don't put provisions in place that deter business and interested people, its just anti-sales. Any Wholesale VOIP providers that do not realize these basic principles does not have a clue. And I don't do business with clueless people.

So I say good luck CommPartners, and I wish you the best. But one of the stupidest things you've ever done was pass up a partnership with RapidDSL, over $5000 you didn't deserve to have from me in the first place. Not because we would be such a huge volume provider of VOIP, but because there was absolutely nothing to loose by having us as a parter, and so much potential to lose by not. Just plain stupid.

have resellers who sell one circuit a quarter


A sale is a sale. Its worth sending out an invoice for any amount above $7. What important is not how mcuh they sell, but how much of your time they take up once they are a partner. If they manage themselves, so what if the volume is high. A WISPs job is not to drive a VOIP provider's sales. A WISP's job is to be a conduit to facilitate a VOIP provider to make sales. Partnership on that alone is worth it. What they are doign is allow all these low volume non-partners to experiemnt with other providers, and accumulative they all add up to be a large number of WISPs that are giving their business to CommPartner competitors. Having a reseller that does one sale a quarter, and knowing they are with you, is better than not knowing if they are doing huge volumes with your competitor.

Tom DeReggi
RapidDSL & Wireless, Inc
IntAirNet- Fixed Wireless Broadband


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