Efficient Networks Inc., a division of Siemens ICN, has thrown its hat into the cable provisioning and service-management ring.
"We're trying to bring to the cable market some of that same solutions that have been presented to the telephony market," said Paul Arceneaux, vice president and general manager of Siemens's service-management business unit. "We ask, 'How can we help you compete with telephony companies?' We can show them the added benefit today."
Efficient's software can help operators who are considering deployment of either Internet-protocol telephony service or tiered data services after the arrival of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 1.1, said Arcenaux.
Using Efficient's software, a subscriber can order IP telephony from an MSO without ever talking to a customer-service representative, said Arcenaux. Some of the company's business-related products allow users to monitor their service-level agreements, he said.
Efficient began offering flow-through provisioning solutions to telephone companies in the late 1990s. It provides the software to support new asynchronous transfer mode-based and frame relay services.
The management-software business complements Efficient's digital subscriber line equipment segment.
In April 2001, Siemens bought Efficient, adding the company to its line of network-access business products. The move broadened Efficient's horizons by adding customer and sales support.
Efficient has deals with six major telcos for various parts of its software suite, Arcenaux said. The vendor has talked with most of the big cable MSOs, but so far has no trials or contracts, he said.
Efficient believes it's a strong player in the bandwidth-on-demand provisioning arena. "Some companies have Web interfaces that are order entry," said Siemens ICN director of marketing Chad Leedy. "With us, customers can self-provision."
Efficient's software would allow telephone companies — or cable business divisions — to offer enterprise customers the ability to monitor alarms, view fault management information and solve other technical problems.
"It's always better to have knowledgeable customers," Leedy said. "They can see their SLA impacted in real time," which could cut down on the number of CSRs a service provider needs to answer trouble calls, he added.
Efficient's software also allows companies to manage their own bandwidth-on-demand services from service providers. "We also enable them to do usage-based billing," Arceneaux said.
Cable companies could use bandwidth-on-demand to serve their business customers, Arceneaux said.
Another option would allow cable subscribers to view the service speeds they've signed up for under a tiered DOCSIS 1.1 service, he said.
Efficient's software also can help operators implement and track the data related to IP telephony service, such as which phone numbers are available and how many are left.