Pipeline Publishing, Volume 3, Issue 1
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Balancing Billing 
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Keeping it all in Check
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By Kerbey Altmann & Roger Thompson

The Vital Role of OSS in Taming Commercial Services

According to Cable Datacomm News, the market for commercial telecom services is estimated at more than $120 billion dollars. It is also estimated that cable operators stand to earn more than $1 billion dollars this year from commercial services offerings.

Beyond the numbers, the impetus for operators to launch is straightforward – commercial markets represent a largely untapped audience from which operators can generate new revenue streams and subscriber growth. As various telephony operators have found for years, commercial customers also tend to produce more significant profit margins than do residential subscribers. It may also be argued that with major ILECs investing heavily in bundled DSL offerings and triple-play roll outs to compete head-on with cable, an aggressive entrance into commercial markets stands as a logical counterstroke for MSOs to combat ILECs in their traditional domains.

Looking deeper into the competitive landscape, it becomes apparent that taking on ILECs in the large enterprise segment is not the most sensible first step. Though there may be such opportunities in the long term, in the short term such a strategy would not be feasible due to the complexity of requirements, geographic range of the customer, and provider loyalty or contractual obligation. Further, many large enterprise locations – particularly those based in industrial and commercial zones – are not immediately accessible to existing cable plant.

For years, however, ILECs have overlooked small and medium businesses in their effort to focus on large enterprises. For a large, slow-moving ILEC, small and medium businesses represent a difficult challenge because of their need for personalized support and more flexible service offerings. In most cases, the heavy-duty transport ILECs offer is overkill for such customers, and their lack of attention on customer experience is a hindrance. Just as some CLECs -  for whom the regulatory playing

"...commercial markets represent a largely untapped audience from which operators can generate new revenue streams..."

field has changed - have found success meeting the needs of small and medium businesses, cable operators have a similar opportunity.

Many of these businesses – everything from car dealerships and doctors’ offices to hotels and retail outlets – are within range of or already served by existing cable plant. Working in the MSOs favor are today’s developments in IP-based technologies that can deliver services tailored to small and medium businesses’ specific needs and advanced OSS solutions that enable high levels of automation, personalization and customer control.

Business Customers Raise the StakesThough several MSOs have experience servicing commercial customers based on a CLEC model, it’s worthwhile to consider the differences between a residential customer’s requirements and expectations and those of even a small or home-based business. The difference boils down to more stringent demands for quality, reliability, diagnosis and resolution of problems, and customer experience. Security can also enter the picture, particularly in a world where people are more sensitive to issues of personal identity and information security than ever before.

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