On-Net vs. Off-Net: A Tale of Two Connectivities

March 29, 2024

In the worst of times, telecom customers have been forced to find connectivity options at addresses where no telecom service has been connected in the past—meaning there’s always a small risk that their preferred service option will face an obstacle to installation.

In the best of times, customers have an abundance of choices that include telecom connectivity through existing infrastructure, as well as the ability to connect to service options by installing new infrastructure or connecting to wireless service.

These two scenarios illustrate one of the basic differences between on-net and off-net connectivity. On-net service, which refers to a carrier that owns network facilities at a specific location, is already connected at that location. By contrast, off-net connectivity refers to a solution provider that has connected to the location by purchasing use of the local network facility through a supplier relationship. As a result, off-net connectivity can involve more unknown and hard-to-identify variables that may affect not only connectivity, but also service quality at an address.

Although the worst-case scenario with off-net connection options may be scary to some customers, the good news is that strong telecom research automation can help you better understand these connectivity options before customers commit to a service option. As a result, telecom businesses can thoroughly evaluate connectivity and score service package options to avoid worst-case scenarios and give customers the type of telecom service they’re seeking at their locations.

Here are some key differences to emphasize as your customers weigh their options between on-net and off-net telecom connections.

1. On-net locations are attractive for the convenience they offer.

On-net properties offer obvious appeal for both telecom customers and providers. For customers, the built-in infrastructure at an address—such as a high-rise residential tower or an office building—means that they can be confident in connectivity from at least one provider at that location.

For providers, investing in on-net infrastructure allows them to capture a high percentage of market share at all on-net addresses. In some cases, providers may even lease out this infrastructure to other telecom companies. Although the cost of building this infrastructure is high, the market share it offers makes it an attractive investment.


2. Off-net may still offer the best options for telecom connectivity.

Even though on-net has some advantages in terms of ease and connection confidence, it can also bring limitations—especially if the on-net service offered isn’t available from the provider you want at a particular location.

Because an address that’s on-net for one carrier or service option may not be accessible for a different provider, on-net buildings can still leave customers with limited options if they’re not satisfied with the providers who are on-net at a particular address. Alternatively, if the provider you wish to work with can lease facilities from one of the existing on-net providers available at a given address, you can be confident that they can offer the similar connectivity options as the on-net providers. You can also take advantage of a broad range of other cloud and managed services you have become accustomed to with that provider relationship.

3. On-net doesn’t necessarily mean you only have one option.

With minimum time to research your options, many buyers or telecom agents sometimes settle for the obvious on-net option from the typical carrier. Finding other options at that address could bring more on-net options but also could surface other providers that can leverage that address with some of their off-net relationships.

Likewise, wireless connectivity may also be an option at on-net locations, even when physical infrastructure can’t be connected to the customer’s address. A thorough research process can determine what types of connectivity options may be available beyond these on-net options.

4. Better off-net data and research tools can improve off-net service evaluation.

The first and most important thing telecom sales agents want to know about off-net service is the identity of the underlying supplier. If the location is off-net for Carrier A, for example, the agents will want to know who Carrier A is leasing that service through.

These identities are important so that agents can determine whether the underlying provider is different from the provider they’re already using. They also want to know if they can trust the service quality. By knowing the brand name of the supplier, they can better evaluate that quality of service.

The right research tool can make all the difference. With qualitative tools like Rating Precision, telecom sales agents can leverage automated research to perform comprehensive evaluations that provide more clarity about the service options at an address—whether that location is on-net or off-net.

With better data driving your configure, price, quote (CPQ) process and supporting your customers’ decision-making, your sales team can recommend better service packages that in turn deliver a better customer experience. Discover more insights that will improve your research process and secure more clients for your business when you reach out for a free product tour.

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