Cable operators who've set up systems to handle voice traffic over hybrid fiber-coaxial networks now face another hurdle to starting up telephony service: crafting the connections to the outside public-phone network.
That's where DSET Corp. comes in. It offers operators a way to automate the process, eliminating faxes sent — and lost — and easing paperwork snarls with the Baby Bells.
DSET, which has done most of its business with competitive local-exchange carriers (CLECs), recently struck a deal to provide its ezAccess software to Cox Communications Inc.
To offer telephony service, MSOs must file Access Service Requests (ASRs) with the local incumbent phone company, a process that can entail as many as 20 variations on forms. Until now, a cable operator that needed to request a new trunk connection had to either use software to send those forms via electronic mail, or write them out by hand and fax them in.
As some requests require 50 pages of faxed information, the confusion and headaches have prompted many carriers to require electronic ASRs.
DSET's ezAccess receiving gateway will allow Cox to automatically generate the request, track its transmission and produce a permanent record. It also handles other administrative transactions with the phone company, including requests to "port over" customers' telephone numbers as they change carriers, as well as service requests with long-distance carriers.
"There are multiple ways that we interact with them," said Jon Flack, manager of data interfaces in Cox's telephony OSS group. "What the gateways do is allow us to automate certain back-office functions."
A direct link to the phone company's system also cuts down on the mistakes in completing these transactions, because it does not require information to be manually transferred once it reaches the phone company.
"This is an efficiency," Flack said. "It is a competitive measure to get onto a more standardized platform."