Most WAN customers are not satisfied with their providers, and customers of large WAN providers are even more likely to be unhappy, according to a survey of UK network managers by MPLS service provider Masergy.

The areas where the WAN suppliers rated worst were collaboration and support - especially their lack of responsiveness and business understanding. And they are still too slow at installing circuits and resolving service and billing issues, said many of the 50 network managers surveyed.

The big problem for the large telcos is that their customers' expectations are running way ahead of what they are able - and willing - to supply, argued Tony Hurtado, Masergy's head of global marketing.

He said that the big telcos want to migrate their customers to new converged services as slowly as possible, but that network managers are increasingly unhappy about the delays. He claimed that this could open doors to younger and more flexible suppliers, such as his company.

"Customers are hearing about new services and want those, but the large carriers are slow to respond - they are looking to recover their investment in infrastructure and want to avoid cannibalising that, so it is to their advantage to migrate their customers slowly," he said.

This customer dissatisfaction is also a result of shareholder pressure and the financial obligation on telcos to deliver higher earnings, Furtado added.

"In the UK and the US, company mergers and other pressures to become more cost-efficient have had implications for the service experience," he said. "We are seeing issues where companies feel that service and support has got worse - they feel they're being sold to, rather than partnered with."

But are WAN buyers shooting their companies in the feet by choosing cheap suppliers, instead of ones that really understand their needs and can deliver consistent, high quality support?

Furtado claims not - he acknowledged that people will sometimes tell a market researcher one thing and then do the exact opposite, but said that his own research suggests that there is a market for quality.

"Enterprise customers tell us they want things to be simpler, rather than more complex, and that they are willing to pay for that," he said.

He added, "There are two key forces at work. The first is customers are looking to new service providers for a better service at the same price or the same service at a better price, and the second is that it's forcing older service providers to migrate to new services faster."