8.21.2008

Value Subtracted Resellers and the hunt for bandwidth

Why would you buy communications services from a value-subtracted reseller?

I'm helping a local non-profit revamp its telecommunications infrastructure. We're seeking a solution that combines telephony and broadband enough to support a staff of about 20 individuals. Bandwidth and phone requirements are consistent with the needs of a small office, but occasionally traffic can burst up. Naturally, cost is a factor. We've talked to several direct service providers, and also some resellers of telecommunications services.

One thing is clear: the resellers are not adding value. They are not VARs. They're VSRs — value subtracted resellers. They offer they same services, but with more layers of red tape. They can't answer a question about services, because they're not offering them, they're just reselling them). They can't offer service level guarantees, for the same reason; they're contracts are filled with weasel words. They're adding nothing. But they sure push you hard to sign a contract.

Feh. We're not bothering with any of the VSRs. We'll be contracting directly with a carrier for the new service.

It's like the mall kiosks for companies reselling cellular services from AT&T, Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile, and so-on. Their prices aren't discounted, and they have a smaller selection of handsets. The staff is often poorly trained. Usually there's a full-service AT&T, Verizon, Cingular or T-Mobile store in the same mall, or close to it. Why the heck would someone choose to get their phone and service from one of those rinky-dink kiosk resellers?

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Co-founder and editorial director of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times, the leading magazine for the software development industry. Founder of SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, and Big Data TechCon. Also president and principal analyst of Camden Associates, an IT consulting and analyst firm.