The History of On-Net and Off-Net Telecom Networks

March 29, 2024

In our current information age, it seems as if a day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear about countless networks in operation. These networks sprawl out like giant webs of wires, riding across telephone poles, through bodies of water, and underground to your building, home, or any other physical structure that utilizes telecommunications.

Up until the early 1980s, the Bell System owned all of the network capabilities. Thanks to deregulation, the monopoly they had established was broken up into several smaller companies, nicknamed “Baby Bells,” that provide local telephone services.

Since then, telecommunications needs have expanded with the rise of the internet. As data needs have increased, new carriers have grown into existence to connect their own web of wires. But not all wires connect to every physical structure.

In the past, telecommunication has been limited to the physical connection to a carrier. Today, most buildings are still only occupied by one or two carriers, but there is availability to still connect to the carrier’s services:

  • On-net refers to the internet and data services available by the carrier in the building.
  • Off-net refers to a solution provider that connects the location to their own network by purchasing the network facility through a supplier relationship.

In this blog post, we illustrate the many benefits of on-net and off-net telecom networks and the best way to evaluate your building’s services.


The Benefits of On-Net Telecom Networks

In-office businesses often seek out on-net buildings for their reliable, built-in connectivity, which eliminates concerns about serviceability, lengthy installation times, and costly technology. 

This certainly makes a lot of sense: Typically, customers are interested in their local infrastructure only, which guides their technology decisions toward suppliers that own the technology asset at those particular locations.

However, cloud-based services are a part of the fabric of the organizations. Recently, Flexera released a paper on the “State of the Cloud” in 2020, reporting that 93 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 87 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy. This has made customers equally concerned with both the supplier at the office location and the supplier in the cloud at key locations.

Because it is essentially impossible for telecom carriers to build infrastructure at every address, carriers must strategically choose locations based on their target market. Doing so creates a need for off-net supplier relationships for carriers that cannot build infrastructure in a physical location. These relationships fill in the gaps of service territory so that their customer can leverage on-net service through key solution providers at more addresses.

The Benefits of Off-Net Telecom Networks

Off-net telecom networks are a relatively new service, but finding a service solution across many locations provides many benefits to the customer, including:

  • Customers can avoid managing service connections and bills from dozens of carriers.
  • They can still obtain the same level of service-level agreement that they would receive with on-net service, even though the supplier is purchasing services from another carrier. 

Even though they lack local access to a building, off-net suppliers might provide a better onramp to a customer’s cloud infrastructure, resulting in a better overall solution for telecom needs.

A Solution for When the Web Gets Sticky

As off-net serviceability becomes more available, more carriers are becoming solution providers, causing the lines between the distinct telecom entities to blur. Yet an issue the solution providers run into is the struggle to express their network presence to customers because the network presence includes underlying off-net suppliers. 

Because this information is becoming more and more valuable for those working in the cloud, solutions providers are seeking ways to be transparent by:

  • Disclosing the underlying carrier they’re using to deliver the solution at that address
  • Creating new demand for evaluation tools that can fully understand presence at an address

Evaluation tools allow customers and telecom sales teams to evaluate on-net or off-net serviceability. Doing so allows the sales team to design solid service solutions and sales packages based on Rating Precision, or how close a technology is to the target for each provider at an address.

BandwidthFinder, an Easy-to-Use Intelligence Tool

As you have read, there are many benefits to on-net and off-net services. More and more, solutions providers are making these services more accessible, but knowing how to find these providers takes the right intelligence tool.

The best way to know if a building is on-net or off-net is to make sure you use a tool such as BandwidthFinder that can research on-net versus off-net serviceability that allows you to understand how close the technology is to your target address.

To learn more about BandwidthFinder, be sure to download the BandwidthFinder Checklist today.


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