Look Online for Telecom Buying Advice

BOSTON (06/05/2000) - How on earth does a person find out who offers which services in his area? The Yellow Pages is pretty outdated, and the terminology hardly helps you trim the list. Searching under Yahoo Inc. or Lycos Inc. only yields a maze of references and unhelpful listings.

Here are some sites that provide helpful tips and listings of who offers what, and also virtual request-for-proposal (RFP) capabilities so you can bid your traffic out online. This isn't just long-distance and mobile, but ATM, DSL, frame relay and other services.

Telezoo.com lists products and services, helps you build and post RFPs, find integrators and telecom degree programs, post press releases, peruse directories of companies and look up acronyms. The elegance, breadth and depth of Telezoo.com's design are impressive. Plus, it's free and easy to use. Using its menus, you select products or services, then select a product type or a brand name. From there, Telezoo.com displays a list of comparable features.

When you find the right service, Telezoo.com can launch an RFP on the spot.

Simplexity.com Inc. provides an easy interface to select a type of service, compare service features among vendors and then purchase the product or build an RFP. Simplexity.com's format is very simple to use, although you must register to get full use of the site. The service is free, and Simplexity.com provides user anonymity to shield buyers from the advances of enthusiastic sellers.

TelecomSmart.com Inc. and CarrierChoice.com have you create an account to ensure they can match you with the right products (and probably do a little marketing). Then a "reverse auction" takes place in which vendors bid for your service (in other words, they answer your RFP). While neither of these sites is as informative as Telezoo. com, they have similar information services in the works.

Databid.com will launch this summer and says its "antiportal" approach will help make the experience of buying data services faster and less of a hassle.

Databid.com will be a virtual sales agent and differ from its competitors by focusing exclusively on data services for small to midsize businesses with a complete end-to-end transactional experience and online training tools.

Telcobuy.com, an operations middleman, is the least impressive. To even kick the tires, you must register and get your credit checked. It allegedly has 500,000 products from more than 1,000 manufacturers. Unlike the other sites, which help you find a service, Telcobuy.com handles order entry, provisioning, project management, single invoice and single point of contact.

The biggest downside to these sites is they require constantly updated information to really be helpful. That's a tough task, so be wary of outdated information. Still, it's a starting place. Let us know if these are any help to you or not, so we can write more about them later.

Briere is CEO and Gage is director at TeleChoice Inc., a market strategy consultancy for the telecommunications industry. They can be reached at wanmonitor@telechoice.com.

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