AT&T and Verizon have both avoided major union strikes in the past, but at the beginning of August both companies had failed to reach agreements with their unions. While there is not any work stoppage at this time, telecom managers shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. It has been four years since 45,000 Verizon wireline employees – close to 50% of their wireline workforce – went on a two week strike that resulted in major delays for repairs and installations. While mobile is the current hot topic in telecommunications, traditional wireline infrastructure is still critical to complete the connection for mobile services and the internet. Furthermore, traditional fixed voice and data services still represent a far larger portion of the budget for the vast majority of organizations.
Instead of taking sides on the negotiations, below is a to-do list of tasks to accomplish before any work stoppage occurs.
- Managers should submit all requests for Moves, Adds, Changes, and Disconnects (MACDs) now before a backlog builds.
- If there is a strike, the biggest delays will come in responding to disconnect requests.
- Get commitments from Verizon in writing to acknowledge disconnect requests, and honor the requested dates on its billing regardless of when it completes the work order.
- Submit requests for new facilities and new services now. There may be some delays in new service installations, but this is new revenue so it will be a top priority for AT&T and Verizon.
- Document the impact of delays in responding to service order requests. Focus on billing: there are likely to be lags in the time taken for disconnected services to be removed from bills.
- Network disruptions from a strike are unlikely, but enterprises should try to establish network redundancy plans with other telecom carriers. This can be difficult because many providers rely on AT&T and Verizon’s network infrastructure.
- Get billing records and contract information organized as soon as possible.
- If there is a strike, there will be delays and data entry errors that are likely to produce billing errors two to six months after the start of the strike.
- Allocate more resources and time to validate all billing.
Telecom carriers and the unions seem to be working to avoid a strike. However, this is still a good time to prepare for possible network disruptions. Software to manage provisioning activity, telecom bills, documentation of MACD activity, asset management and billing issues will help avoid problems. Telecom managers should not wait until a strike is announced or errors start appearing on bills, to develop a program and strategy to deal with potential disruptions.