Have you tried calling your Cable TV provider, Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Telephone Company (Telco) and encountered the term demarcation point? Sounds quite complicated but it’s actually a fairly easy concept to understand. So what is demarcation point and why is it very important?
I was able to work with a telecommunications company that deals with phone and internet service and I ran into this term during one of the cases I handled and researched on it through our knowledge database. Demarcation point is simply where the company’s responsibilities end and where the customer’s responsibilities begin. Sounds simple but there are a couple of situations where it may not be clear.
As a telecommunications company, its primary role is to provide service to their customers. Let’s talk about internet connection where the ISP provides everything up to the hardware used (modem, router or cables). The ISP now provides internet signal through the wires and hardware. That is the responsibility of the ISP. The customer’s responsibility is to maintain his/her computer. Usually, if there’s a problem from the base station (where the ISP sends or transmits signals from) to the modem, it’s the accountability of the ISP and from that point until the computer itself is the customer’s.
It’s a different case when the customer uses his/her own routers or modems that the ISP did not provide. The demarcation point on the side of the company is most likely from their base station up to the wires that connect to the self-provided hardware. If something goes wrong anywhere from the router to the PC up to the user him/herself that made the service unusable, it’s the usually customer’s accountability.
When it comes to technical support, consumers usually complain as to why the cost of support is high when it should have been free. A lot of times, it’s because of the demarcation point. If you can’t use the internet because of computer viruses, your ISP may or may not be able to help you and since it is not within their scope, they can charge you for the technical support. The same thing happens when a technician visits your place. If they found out that the problem is at your end of the demarcation point, they’d most likely bill you. Otherwise, they will most certainly provide the service for free if the problem is clearly on their end.
This goes hand-in-hand with customer service, especially billing. If you have a dispute on your bill or if you request for credits, they will consider the demarcation point to determine who is at fault then take action from there. If you didn’t have internet service for a week because your ISP had problems with their stations, you deserve credit.
If you just didn’t use the internet for a week because you didn’t want or need to, most likely, any credit you request for will be rejected. Your ISP still provided you the internet signal that’s why you have to pay for it. Some companies offer a temporary stop service so that you won’t get billed if you need to abstain from the usage of their services.
As you can see, setting a demarcation point or disputing a demarcation is highly debatable and can be confusing to both the customer and the provider. It is not limited to telecommunications alone and demarcation points can be used on most inter-relationships between providers and consumers. It would be ideal for a company and a consumer to set things clear upon the start of the service that if any problem arises, the responsibilities and accountabilities are clear.