SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


D.E. Boehling
Ms. Boehling has over a quarter century of experience advising clients on wireline and wireless telecommunications and technology agreements with...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



D.E. Boehling | December 01, 2011 |

 
   

AT&T's VTNS and UVN Customers Lose Special Treatment

AT&T's VTNS and UVN Customers Lose Special Treatment Customers who currently have these contracts with AT&T should review them immediately, as the cost of complacency may be high.

Customers who currently have these contracts with AT&T should review them immediately, as the cost of complacency may be high.

For as long as I've been doing telecom agreements, we've been telling large users to pay attention to what's in the carriers' Service Guides, those lengthy documents that are incorporated by reference into enterprise telecom agreements and can really hurt you if you don't read them and negotiate to override the worst parts in your contracts. But the very biggest AT&T customers were insulated from some of the worst Service Guide terms and conditions. Until now.

For decades, AT&T's 200 or so Virtual Telecommunications Network Service (VTNS) customers were special. Comprised largely of Fortune 500 companies that had signed up for customized "Tariff 12" agreements in the late '80s and early '90s, they were both few in number and treated better than other AT&T customers.

VTNS users were the first to obtain customer-specific prices and better terms than were available in AT&T's general tariffs. One of these was a provision that prevented AT&T from changing VTNS in ways that hurt customers. Over the last decade, AT&T showed much the same respect for its managed service customers (including those purchasing AT&T's Ultravailable Network Service (UVN) services). By contrast, AT&T often took advantage of its right to change tariff and other Service Guide provisions unilaterally in ways that were adverse to customers.

Nothing lasts forever. As of November 17, VTNS and UVN service customers are treated essentially the same as the rest of the crowd.

When VTNS (along with most interstate services) was detariffed a decade ago, the FCC insisted that the carriers post their general terms in a "Service Guide" available to the public. Large customers loved detariffing; the carriers hated it. They didn't want to give up their rights to unilaterally change terms, so they insisted that the Service Guides themselves be incorporated wholesale into customer contracts. AT&T's first VTNS Service Guide changed the VTNS tariff in ways that were unfavorable to VTNS customers. When LB3 pointed this out, AT&T fixed the problems. The world was a bit different then--AT&T faced a market with more competition from aggressive new entrants, and by design it was not run by Bell Heads with a "I am the carrier and the tariffs control" mind set.

However, effective November 17, AT&T transitioned VTNS to a new Service Guide--and the new VTNS Service Guide and General Provisions are worse for VTNS customers in numerous ways. AT&T also eliminated the Managed and Miscellaneous Service Guide, making services like UVN subject to all of the General Provisions. If your contract specifically addresses an issue, the changes should not affect you with respect to that issue. If your contract does not address an issue, the question becomes whether AT&T--which since detariffing has been acquired by SBC--will again correct the "mistakes" as it did a decade ago, when the carrier environment was more competitive. Don't hold your breath.





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.