VisionNet, a rural Montana company that offers outsourced customer service for broadband service providers, has expanded its offerings to include remote management and diagnostics for broadband connections. By using the cloud-based offering based on technology from Germany-based Axiros Marcomm, service providers can avoid the expense of purchasing their own software, potentially saving as much as $100,000 or more, said Ed Hassell, network operations manager for VisionNet, in an interview.

VisionNet, owned by nine rural telcos, has seen strong growth in recent years and now provides customer service for 250,000 end users served by about 100 service providers throughout the U.S.  “We’re quickly becoming a one-stop shop,” said Hassell.

Service providers can purchase only VisionNet’s cloud-based management and monitoring offering, known as RDM (for remote device management) or they can purchase it in combination with customer service from VisionNet. Purchasing the RDM service in combination with customer service can help reduce customer service costs because phone calls can be resolved about 20% to 30% more quickly, Hassell said.

To diagnose service problems without the Axiros software, VisionNet would typically need a high-paid employee “sitting behind an expensive computer hacking away at the process trying to determine how [the connection] failed,” explained Hassell.  With the Axiros software, “we’re driving that information down to the lowest-level person and arming them with red light and green light decisions.” The customer service representatives now have more information when customers call in and can address problems more quickly, he said.

“Now the person who will take the call can make educated well informed decisions,” noted Hassell.

VisionNet customer service reps may not have to wait for customers to call in to report problems because the Axiros software also proactively monitors accounts and alerts VisionNet about service degradation so the problem often can be addressed before it affects service, Hassell said. He also noted that when it analyzes a customer connection, the software is “not looking outward from the network – we look at it from the customer premises into our network and out to the Internet.”

The Axiros software also can be used to provision new customers.

Hassell said the RDM offering is well suited to small rural carriers that are looking for ways to make their operations more efficient. The offering can support broadband delivered over cable, DSL or fiber, eliminating the need to use different systems to monitor different offerings.

“We can put their provisioning, monitoring and performance metrics on one pane of glass,” said Hassell. That approach eliminates the need for “multiple sheets of glass that they have to swivel chair to.”
Service providers using the VisionNet RDM management and monitoring software pay on a per-customer, per-month basis.

VisionNet also offers email, web hosting and data center applications.

Technical details about VisionNet’s new offering can be found in a press release issued on Friday.