Telecom Fees Explained: Expedite Fees

The telecom fee landscape is opaque and oftentimes misleading. Here we discuss telecom expedite fees: what they are, what’s the catch, and how to avoid them.

telecom expedite fees (1)
Eric Perreault

Nov 5, 2021


My name is Eric Perreault and I’m the Senior Director of Product Operations at Lightyear - a telecom software company that was built on the premise that business telecom is broken.

Lightyear is using our data to bring pricing transparency to the telecom industry (check out our DIA pricing guide, WAN Pricing Guide, and SD-WAN Buyers guide, if you haven’t already) - but we’ve yet to dig into the non-recurring fee landscape. Working in the telecom industry for 20+ years, one thing has become obvious to me - the telecom fee landscape is hard to fully understand and oftentimes misleading.

So, I’m sharing my insights into the telecom fee landscape here. Today I’ll be covering Telecom Expedite Fees, and look out for a future post on installation fees as well.

What is a Telecom Expedite Fee?

As the Director of Customer Success at Lightyear, it’s my responsibility to make sure that the customers are treated fairly by their providers. Unfortunately, expedite fees are an area where you (the customer) can often be taken advantage of.

In the world of telecommunications, an “expedite” is any installation time frame shorter than the minimum standard install interval. If you ever require an expedited process, you will potentially be charged an expedite fee by your carrier.

We are seeing expedite requests less and less these days (kudos for the customers for getting their orders in on time), but it’s important to understand that if your company is ever in a pinch and requires an expedite, it will potentially come at a cost.

There are two main types of expedite fees: internal and external.

Internal Expedite Fees

Internal expedites refer to when you request that the carrier moves through their own internal process faster than what their standard intervals define. This is essentially a paper pushing request; you are asking the carrier to move your request to the top of their pile.

As a customer, you should always negotiate hard on any internal expedite fee, if your carrier requests one. If they want your business (they do), they should waive this - again, it’s basically asking them to push paper faster.

External Expedite Fees

External expedite requests mean that your provider is asking the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) to accelerate their processes. In this case, your provider is either the on-net LEC doing the install in an off-net building, or you’re working with a Type 2 provider who is reselling another provider’s last mile.

External expedites are harder to guarantee and harder to negotiate down as they can be out of the carrier’s hands. That said, you should always ask (and Lightyear always will on your behalf)

The Catch

Customers can request an expedited installation from their providers on any service, but like all things in telecom, there are a few catches…

  • There are no guarantees on the success of the expedite. The carrier will do their best to accommodate all customer expedite requests, but not all requests will be doable for the carrier.

  • By submitting an expedite order, you are losing the dates that had previously been requested and/or confirmed; if the expedite is not granted, the order(s) will need to be resubmitted with new standard timeframes.

  • If they fail to meet your expedite request, you won’t get your money back (in most cases).

Based on these factors, I’m sure you can imagine why expedite fees get my knickers in a bunch.

When might you be faced with an expedite fee?

Here are the most common examples:

  • You are moving offices on a tight time frame and need your services installed quickly to meet your move-in date.

  • Your current network configuration isn’t meeting your business’ needs and you require a bandwidth upgrade or additional networking services on a tight timeframe.

  • Your provider isn’t meeting your service level agreement (SLA) or quality of service (QoS) requirements and you need to quickly switch providers to get your business back on track.

Voice Porting Expedites

Voice porting deserves a special shout out in regards to expedites fees.

Porting is the process of taking your phone number away from your current carrier and moving it to another carrier. There are multiple reasons why porting numbers takes so long, and most of them are caused by the carriers themselves - the primary driver being that carriers do not want you to leave their platform so they make the process more difficult.

There are quite a few hoops to jump through when it comes to number porting. First, you must obtain an agreement from your current provider to expedite the porting. Then, a Letter of Agency (LOA) and bill copy with all numbers to be ported is needed. Additionally, you will be required to provide a contact in the losing carrier’s Port Out department - not customer service or account management. All of these hoops complicate and draw out the process.

After your numbers have been ported, it is your responsibility to contact your old provider and request that they disconnect your service. Not doing that will result in continued billing of the previous services for as long as it takes you to request the disconnecting of the services. Pretty annoying, right?

Telecom Expedite Fee Costs

Your fee amount will vary based on the type of product you’re having installed - whether it be circuits or services.Given “Services” refer to software and appliances, you don’t often see any form of expedite fees being charged.

However - if you need expedited shipping for your appliance (say, an SD-WAN appliance), you probably will be charged a nominal shipping fee that technically falls under the “expedite” bucket. These shipping fees will very rarely be waived, but we have seen some special cases where the carrier will waive expedited shipping costs for customers in the medical or education fields (especially amid COVID).

For circuits, like to expedite a fiber or dedicated internet install, you can be looking at a minimum charge of $1,500.If you want leverage in regard to the cost of an expedite, be sure to make the request prior to placing your order with the telecom provider. As a customer there is no time when you have more leverage over a carrier/provider than right before you sign an order; use this leverage to your advantage and make the expedite part of the deal.

All of that said, we will always try to negotiate the fee away entirely.

Navigating Expedite Fees

I hope you enjoyed this overview on the types of expedite fees, the reasons you might need an expedite, and other factors to consider when faced with an expedite fee.

In our experience, it is almost never worth paying an expedite fee given the lack of guaranteed timing or refund upon failure. Aside from expedited shipping fees, Lightyear has always been successful in getting expedite fees waived.

Lightyear’s software platform manages your entire telecom lifecycle including staying on top of your implementations and helping you avoid unnecessary fees. If you have any questions regarding an ongoing telecom implementation, or are stressing about your next one, reach out to me [email protected]. The other IT experts at Lightyear and I would be happy to help.

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