Reliable, automated customer provisioning fuels differentiated services for Canadian telecommunications company Videotron.
Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, Videotron is an integrated communications company offering cable television, Internet access, cable telephone, wireless telephone services and more. In 2004, the rapidly growing company faced a key challenge: how to control operational cost and complexity while ensuring a superior customer experience for the configuration and availability of the growing number of DOCSIS 3.0 devices, including cable modems and set-top boxes.
"While most devices are installed by technicians, some are purchased in stores and installed by our customers," said Stephane Desrochers, director of IP systems development at Videotron. "Some devices are new and pre-configured, others are recycled. The goal in 2004 was to automate service activation and IP address assignment, so no matter who connected the device, provisioning would be fast and seamless, including after avalanche scenarios such as a power or system outage."
With an eye to centralizing management and reducing operational cost, Videotron deployed Cisco® Broadband Access Center (BAC) and Cisco Network Registrar (CNR). The technology successfully managed Videotron's growth for more than five years, aggregating and automating service activation and management, delivering the promised customer experience, and streamlining the connection between the provisioning technology and other back-office systems. In addition, BAC's pay-as-you-go fee structure let Videotron add licenses and servers to its existing deployment as the customer base grew.
Solution and Results
The Cisco BAC for Cable solution deployed by Videotron in 2004 automated the process of configuring Videotron's residential devices while balancing two key network requirements. On one hand, the solution centralized the management of all residential devices, eliminating the complexity of maintaining multiple systems for different types of devices or customers. On the other hand, to increase availability and decrease response times, BAC distributed the configuration activity into Provisioning Groups, which handle the actual transactions with the residential devices via the Cisco BAC Device Provisioning Engine (DPE) and the CNR DNS and DHCP servers. In addition, BAC's support for DOCSIS 3.0 enables Videotron to offer industry-leading bandwidth for its customers, including download speeds up to 120 mbps and upload speeds up to 20 mbps.
"One of the important benefits of BAC is that it requires little maintenance beyond upgrades and licensing," said Mr. Desrochers. "It's almost an install-and -forget-it solution, yet it ranks in the top 10 percent of our engineering systems for overall availability." In addition, a centralized application programming interface (API) included with BAC has allowed Videotron to connect BAC to other back-office systems, including billing, further driving down operational costs.
Videotron currently manages more than a million DOCSIS 3.0 devices using the Cisco BAC technology and is currently in the process of deploying BAC 4.0. BAC 4.0 supports IPv6 for expanded Internet addressing capabilities and offers increased scalability and redundancy. The system will allow Videotron to increase the use of server resources, so one physical server will be able to manage more residential devices. This simpler architecture will reduce the number of servers needed, thus reducing operational costs.
As has always been the case, Videotron is relying on excellent support from Cisco network experts and the Professional Services team during the migration to BAC 4.0 - from creating the most efficient licensing strategy to making sure the Videotron team can quickly reach the right support staff. "We are confident that Cisco is always there for us," said Mr. Desrochers.
Mr. Desrochers is also confident that BAC is the right technology to support Videotron's subscriber growth for many years to come: "BAC has allowed Videotron to grow rapidly while offering a truly differentiated quality of service that we are very proud of. With BAC 4.0, we are acquiring the support for the latest standards and the increased scalability we need to offer new high-speed services and continue to grow. At the same time, BAC has significantly reduced our operational costs and complexity compared to manual configuration."