A consortium of some of Britain's biggest businesses has selected relatively unknown carrier Primus Telecommunications as its preferred telecomms supplier, ousting previous favourite MCI Worldcom.
Consortium members, including British Aerospace, British Sugar and Lex Service, can get a voice and data telecoms service from Primus that has been priced and structured according to criteria set by the consortium.
Primus was selected by the Major Energy Users Council (MEUC) ahead of rival bidders, including Cable & Wireless and AT&T after the consortium terminated its existing contract with MCI Worldcom.
Consortium director general, Andrew Bainbridge, said Worldcom's contract was terminated because they were unable to compete on price. "After 18 months, Worldcom said 'we know you need a lower price and Worldcom can't give you a lower price,'" said Bainbridge.
Primus, a six year old American carrier with offices in central London, is relatively unknown in the UK. The consortium's 190 members will need introducing to Primus in the same way they needed introducing to the then unknown Worldcom, 18 months ago, said Bainbridge.
"I think there is a natural suspicion that we all have in dealing with someone new that will soon evaporate," said Bainbridge.
MEUC is open to any business that spends more than a quarter of a million pounds on utilities. Around a third of the membership signed up with Worldcom when it was preferred supplier and Bainbridge said he expects even more to sign up for Primus.
As well as undercutting on price, Primus has also promised high service levels. Primus will monitor competitors' prices and adjust its rates accordingly, offer compensation for down time and provide maximum installation times, with penalties if it fails to meet deadlines.
"The quality of service appears exceptional in the UK because companies have not been getting it," said Kishor Patel, strategic relationship manager at Primus in the UK. The importance of service levels is something driven by Primus' US parent operations, he said.
"In the US, they are used to getting this sort of pricing and service all the time. I think we're offering what they deserve," said Patel.
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