Finding Their Niche

Some firms are building an end-to-end solution to solve customers' operational support systems problems.

Some firms are building an end-to-end solution to solve customers operational support systems problems. Others insist theyre very happy serving one slice of the market.

Wisor Telecom, in Rockville, Md., has a Service Management Solution Suite, which includes "trading partner interconnection," along with service provisioning and order management. Its products revolve around a translation engine that turns cryptic incumbent local exchange carrier codes into understandable data.

Verizon Communications wholesale services division uses a product called WisorGate to ensure ongoing compliance with rules laid out by section 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. "They have to provide this open database, using our software as an internal tool, to test the operability of their external gateway," says Eric Bear, assistant vice president of marketing at Wisor.

Another product, WisorRep, uses the same translation engine to enable competitive carriers salespeople to go into the incumbents database and retrieve a customer record that shows what the customer is buying and at what price. The salesperson can turn that information into a competitive proposal, then process the order.

EHPT USA, the Englewood, Colo., arm of a joint venture between Ericsson and Hewlett-Packard, calls its products "revenue improvement software."

Bruce Dines, CEO of EHPT USA, describes the companys core offering — which includes billing mediation, service activation and business intelligence modules — as a way for providers to add next-generation products to their offerings without sacrificing existing systems.

"Its software that collects information from disparate network elements onto a common platform, and then distributes it in a uniform, understandable way downstream," Dines says. Companies can look at customers usage patterns and manage revenue from multiple sources, doing revenue sharing with content providers on broadband and mobile devices.

In order to bill accurately for services like stock quotes by phone, "You need a very, very robust rating engine driven by business rules," Dines says.

To Communications Industry Researchers analyst Lawrence Gasman, the need for better automation is a no-brainer. Taking human hands out of the process saves time and can cut the rate of exceptions by 30 percent to 40 percent.

Basic cost efficiency sounds dull, compared to the lure of emerging services like bandwidth-on-demand — but dullness is appealing these days. "The number of companies who want to dial up an OC-192 [10 gigabits per second] is pretty few and far between," Gasman says. "An automated patch panel is boring compared to OC-192-on-demand, but its probably where the potential is right now."