article

Wholesale: Vectris Deploys Cygent Partner Portal

Posted: 11/2000

Vectris Deploys Cygent Partner Portal
By Chris Garifo

Texas-based DSL wholesaler Vectris Telecom Inc. (www.vectris.com)
is the first to make use of Cygent Inc.’s (www.cygent.com)
Channel Partner Portal.

The web-based portal gives wholesalers the capability of deploying a website
through which they can manage their resellers.

Vectris offers DSL-based services in 18 secondary markets. It plans to
include more than 200 markets in the central and southwestern United States by
year’s end. In June Vectris launched its Management Gateway, which is based on
Cygent’s eBusiness support system.

The system lets Vectris’ distribution partners check on the availability of
DSL services, place orders for services, monitor the activation status of those
orders and maintain customer account information, all through a secure online
platform.

"We’re using Cygent as our customer interface for all of our
customers," says Joe Samples, Vectris’ vice president of information
services.

Samples says one of the reasons Vectris chose Cygent was because of the lack
of products available at the time.

He says that in December of last year, the only two directions wholesalers
had to go from a telecommunications customer experience were either with some
adaptation of their customer relationship management systems, billing systems or
legacy network inventory systems, or a Cygent. "In December, there just
wasn’t a lot of competition in a telecom vertical for a kind of e-commerce front
end for your customers."

Now, Samples says, the market is changing with a number of products being
introduced. Companies such as Covad Communications Co. (www.covad.com)
Eftia OSS Solutions Inc. (www.eftia.com)
NightFire Software Inc. (www.nightfire.com)
Siebel Systems Inc. (www.siebel.com)
and Vitria Technology Inc. (www.vitria.com)
have all either developed e-business applications or partnered with e-business
applications providers to launch products to improve the DSL ordering and
provisioning process.


Graphic: Vectris

"We’ve been very happy with the wholesale part of Cygent we’ve put
in," Samples says. "We’ve been very happy with the scalability and the
technological underpinnings of the application itself. It’s the kind of thing we
plan to expand and continue to use for all of our ordering and order management,
and expand it also into trouble management."

Samples says the portal is part of Vectris’ effort to speed up the delivery
of DSL service to the end user, an area that for many customers–and
providers–has been somewhat of a nightmare.

Samples says Vectris gathers the parameters needed for a DSL order up front
in the sales cycle. It then triangulates on what can be provided to the customer
through Vectris’ prequalification routine, through the LEC and by checking the
customer’s distance from the CO. Once that distance is determined, Vectris uses
Turnstone Systems Inc.’s (www.turnstone.com)
Copper CrossConnect CX100 for its loop qualification.

Samples says Vectris won’t send a truck out until the customer’s order has
gone through all three of those phases. As a result, Vectris has reduced the
number of truck rolls per customer to get its service turned up to an average of
1.2. The industry standard is about three truck rolls per customer.

Industry experts say it is critical for the still-young DSL market to quickly
solve the problems that have resulted in delays of weeks and even months in DSL
provisioning.

Mike Lowe, a senior industry analyst for Cahners In-Stat Group (www.instat.com)
in Scottsdale, Ariz., says the DSL industry is seeing subscriber growth of 50
percent from quarter to quarter. Cahners In-Stat is forecasting an installed
base of 72 million lines worldwide by 2004.

Lowe acknowledges that DSL consumers have experienced a number of problems
during the ordering and provisioning process, problems that will need to be
solved if the DSL market wants to remain healthy.

Improving the DSL ordering and provisioning process is "absolutely
critical," Lowe says. "If there were no other broadband options
available, it would still be critical because we’re still at the phase as an
industry of convincing a large amount of people that broadband is something that
they need, as opposed to dialup, for instance."

"Like most companies out there, wholesalers and retailers are realizing
that an Internet channel is one of the best ways to provide personalized,
customized, tailored service," says Steve Bamberger, vice president of
marketing for Cygent.

Wholesalers who buy Channel Partner Portal can have their website up and
running in three and to four months, Bamberger says. What they’ll get is a
completely end-customer branded site that’s fully integrated into their back
office. Bamberger says Channel Partner Portal is an out-of-the-box package
solution that lets providers offer better service while controlling their
operations costs.

Bamberger adds that the portal, incorporated into Cygent’s eBusiness Support
System, is virtually infinitely customizable. The technology is 100 percent Java
and the presentation is based on a technology called Java Server Pages, which
allows service providers to make almost any change to their sites’ look and feel
by using HTML. They also can extend Cygent’s business logic and objects using
the built-in properties of the Java language.

Bamberger says Channel Partner Portal does more than just provide its
customers with a pretty face on the web. The solution’s real strength is
"all of the interfaces and all of the business logic for communications
services are built in. In other words, we understand communications pricing
models out of the box, and we understand how to do that."

Bamberger adds that the Channel Partner Portal is more than a data access
tool, it’s a solution for a complete communications e-business suite that allows
wholesalers to create service bundles.


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