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Customers are suffering as service providers, hit by the telecoms slowdown, remain preoccupied by their balance sheets and the latest technologies rather than delivering adequate service.

That's the conclusions of a study by tech consultancy DMW Group which found multinational companies are suffering major network service problems because telcos are taking their eye of the ball.

DMW Group commissioned The Yankee Group to investigate how senior executives at large UK companies felt about the levels of service they were receiving from their carriers. The findings ranged between damning and ambivalent, with most of those surveyed expressing frustration with current levels of performance.

In particular, service providers have failed to deliver in the two areas their corporate customers value most highly - reliability and customer service, the survey found.

"The rate of change in the sector - both commercial and technological - has been too high to allow providers to develop well-rounded service offerings. Suppliers need to focus more on their customers' needs, instead of getting distracted by developments in their industry," said Chris Dean, director, DMW Group, who added that the problem is ongoing and only likely to get worse with further restructuring in the sector.

Areas such as network reliability, fault management and billing are frequently criticised by corporate customers.

"Above all, corporate users need dependable networks and responsive service. For some providers, a realignment of priorities is overdue," Dean added.

Most of the senior executives questioned by Yankee Group researchers agreed that carriers were letting them down in key areas of their service agreements. However, few had adequate contingency plans in place to deal with an unexpected problem such as a collapse of their existing provider or a widespread network outage.

Yankee Group questioned executives responsible for network traffic at 100 large companies as part of its Global Network Strategies Survey and then conducted in-depth interviews with a further smaller sample on behalf of DMW Group. ®

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