Another Warning To AVOID The Lowest Cost Providers….

Hang on, let me check that I have everything for this blog.  Soap Box – Check!  Passion – Check!  Straight Talk – Check!  Bible verse – Check!  Really, a Bible verse?  Yes, read on…. Okay, let’s get to the Bible verse because it is the root of this week’s blog:

Proverbs 4:7 ‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; Yea, with all thy getting get understanding’.

This blog is not about religion, but about understanding. I have just heard the second stupidest thing I think I’ve ever heard in the satellite industry.  Second only to the caller a few years back who wanted me to provide a price quote for a satellite service that absolutely would not work where he needed service.  I told him.  “Well, give me pricing anyway,” he said.  “No, I’m not going to give you pricing for a solution that I know will not work.  Wouldn’t you rather learn about the option that will work?”

Last year there was a bid for three satellite phones, pooled airtime and delivery in nylon bags.  The lowest bidder sent three satellite phones in the original box and put three nylon bags in the shipping box.  Lowest price though, right?  Definitely the best deal, right?  Wrong!  So the agency got stiffed on the delivery.  And their ‘pooled’ airtime consists of three pre-paid SIM cards (which cannot be pooled by the way).  Or can it?

Here’s their lowest-cost provider’s definition of ‘pooling’: When the first pre-paid SIM card runs out of time, take it out of the satellite phone and replace it with one of the other two active SIM cards.  Once that happens the agency will have two active satellite phones and when the second satellite phone runs out of airtime, they will have one active satellite phone.  From three satellite phones to one satellite phone.  But it was the lowest price so they saved money, right?

It gets better (or worse) because this year they have to renew their service.  For their renewal they have requested 750 minutes of airtime that never expire available ‘on-demand’ (never expire?).  They just want to ‘turn on’ their satellite phones and draw off their pool of airtime when they need to, as if the service is free.  There are several things about this process that are horrifying to me:

  • The Agency thinks that swapping SIM cards is okay even though they only end up with one live phone
  • They have posted a bid to repeat this process
  • The lowest-cost provider last year knew that their solution would not do what they wanted
  • This provider is not allowing for rollover of the pre-paid minutes which is actually standard practice
  • If the agency actually goes through with this ludicrous process, they will be putting people’s lives at risk

The worst part of this situation is that the agency is not willing to learn how pooled airtime and ‘service on-demand’ really works.

Here’s the deal: the Iridium pre-paid platform does not allow for pooled airtime, period.  If you want a pool of airtime, you need to buy post-paid service – yes, with a monthly or annual cost – and draw the pool from that.   The notion of ‘on-demand’ airtime is pure fiction. We all know that we get what we pay for and paying for nothing up-front means they/you will receive nothing.  And folks, good luck getting those SIM cards activated in an emergency.  It never takes as little time as we want it to take and THAT is when people’s lives will be at risk; during those crucial hours when the activations are being processed and emergency personnel need to get out and go without communications.  Brilliant plan, never mind that since they have never trained on the satellite phones, they will likely not know how to use them.  This entire scenario is a recipe for a disaster on top of a disaster.

I am writing this so that readers will take heed.  Learn about what you are buying and the associated value with your various pricing proposals.  More expensive is neither good nor bad until you understand the value of the proposal.  Whoever decided the lowest price is the best option clearly never had to use solutions from the lowest cost provider.

Lowest-cost providers and their lame proposals are not worth the paper they are printed on so avoid them like the plague.

Thanks for reading.  I am always interested in your feedback, both positive and negative so please e-mail me