Self-Provisioning Bundles Up

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Next Generation Broadband is launching a bundled installation product that will enable consumers to activate cable-modem and telephone services without the assistance of a technician.

The software has the potential for lowering service-upgrade installation costs, according to NGB executive vice president Tiffany Norwood, who noted that feedback from potential clients puts telephony installs cost an average of $175. Target clients for the software are medium to large-sized triple-play providers, who conduct 100,000 high-speed data and/or telephony installs each year. At that rate, the installation costs to operators are substantial, she noted.

Although some operators, such as Cox Communications, offer broadband self-installations, Norwood asserted that telephone service is still installed manually.

The product could also be used by cable technicians to speed the install and unify the customer experience, whether a technician aids the install or whether it is self-executed.

To use the bundled-installation software, a subscriber would either buy a combination modem and telephone provisioning unit, or their video provider would send them one. They would disconnect the cable connection from the television and attach it to that modem unit, and use wiring provided with the hardware to connect the unit to the home personal computer. The cable operator would then recognize that the device is plugged in and take the consumer to a series of activation screens, including checking the in-home hardware to determine whether it is compatible with the services the consumer is buying.

The software determines if the customer already subscribes to high-speed data service and is swapping a standard modem for the modem/phone model, and will address the new hardware. A new high-speed data customer picks an e-mail address, sets the system password and selects from among the provider's packages of service.

For new cable-telephony customers, the software sets up either a new phone number, or begins the number-porting process. The consumer is given a temporary number to use while the porting process is executed so they can begin using cable telephony immediately. Consumers select their calling plans, enhanced services and directory listing preferences.

Company officials declined to discuss pricing on the bundled install product, other than to say it probably isn't practical for smaller triple-play providers, defined as those that handle fewer than 100,000 installs a year.

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