Second tier doesn’t mean second rate
You wouldn’t give an entire large enterprise network to a carrier with $1-2 billion in annual sales, but you could certainly give such a carrier a lot of business.
The carriers in this category include tw telecom, PaeTec, XO, Level 3 and Global Crossing. They have issues-Global Crossing famously mistreated its enterprise customers after it went bankrupt almost a decade ago. But these are substantial companies with solid track records. They are frequently out front with new services (like SIP trunking) and where they have footprint-which is not everywhere-they are extremely competitive on both price and terms. By using them you both save money and set a benchmark for your major carriers.
Granite is a special case. It’s basically a nationwide local service reseller that offers attractive pricing and a really solid billing/management tool (at least by comparison to what you get from AT&T, Verizon and Qwest). And it doesn’t demand long commitments. The catch-which it won’t tell you unless you ask three times – is that its core services are tariffed (even when they don’t have to be, which is most of the time), the tariffs are one-sided, and they trump whatever contract terms you may think you negotiated. Then again, if this hurts you can always leave after a year or so without paying a substantial penalty.
By dividing up your telecom business between a tier 1 telco and one or more tier 2 carriers, you will save money on the tier 2 services and also create on-going leverage that you can use to persuade your tier 1 incumbent to remain competitive throughout the term of your contract.