November 22nd, 2021

Case Closed: It’s time to improve how network connectivity is bought and sold

The business connectivity market is evolving, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated many changes already in motion. Hybrid work-from-home environments are now commonplace, which means businesses are looking for more accessible, cost-effective ways for their teams to access cloud-based applications and services. 

For many, SD-WAN is the right answer at the right time. The adoption of SD-WAN is driving a shift from traditional TDM and Ethernet-based MPLS networks towards Broadband Internet. But with the demand for Broadband soaring, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are struggling to keep pace, especially when it involves providing connectivity to off-net locations. 

When we polled service providers to learn about their experiences, 38% of CSPs said they are well down the road with their digital transformation programs – a considerable jump from 23% the year before. But, while COVID-19 has accelerated the process, there is still much work to be done just to break even.

whitepaper chart

Source: e:book: SD-WAN: Avoiding Costly Pitfalls When Ordering Broadband for Critical Underlay Networks

Access Service Request (ASR), a U.S. industry standard that defines how traditional connectivity services are bought and sold between carriers, has been the de facto process for decades, and it’s worked well – but cracks are beginning to show. To stay competitive and meet their customer expectations, telecom carriers must modernize and automate how they buy and sell network access and transport services - whether TDM, Ethernet, or Broadband. 

SD-WAN and SASE offer improved reliability.
Business IT environments haven’t traditionally used broadband due to its lack of reliability and security. After all, no business wants its internet connection to slow down every time teenagers in a nearby condo complex start streaming Netflix after school. Broadband is significantly less expensive than MPLS, and advancements in SD-WAN and SASE have improved reliability and security, making it an excellent addition to the business IT stack. 

Why today’s connectivity ordering process is so broken.
The tools and systems used by Communications Service Providers (CSPs) weren’t designed to tackle the added complexity and challenges of sourcing, quoting, and ordering today’s wholesale services. For example, Broadband lacks any standards for the quoting and ordering of services.  Emails and phone calls are still the norm for many carriers, while others rely upon access order clearinghouses. Both have become outdated.

The ASR clearinghouses were developed to allow carriers to submit orders for connectivity outside of their network footprint using a defined process and required information. The clearinghouse then pairs these requests with local carriers that can deliver the service the originating carrier needs, where they need it, at an agreed-upon price. 

However, there are many challenges with today’s ASR clearinghouse: 

  • It’s outdated: ASR doesn’t support newer services, such as Broadband. 
  • It’s hard to use: extensive ‘insider’ knowledge of industry jargon is required – and this expertise is aging out of the workforce.
  • It’s too complex: complexity causes employee mistakes, requiring additional rework and order delays.
  • It lacks critical functionality: 
    • Limited reporting and analytics can lead to poor business decisions and lower margins.
    • Difficult to maintain an accurate view of circuit history.
    • Not enough insight to prevent accidental (and expensive) disconnects.
    • Workflow limitations make it impossible to streamline the ordering process.  Manual workaround processes are being used to bypass these limitations.

A modern approach to off-net connectivity.
In the era of zero-touch automation and on-demand services from hyperscalers and other cloud providers, business customers expect real-time access and responsiveness when it comes to ordering network connectivity.  After all, it’s the lifeblood of business, and no one should be expected to wait three to four weeks, or even longer, to get service. But, CSPs can eliminate the hassles, delays, and errors caused by outdated processes with Neustar UOC. 

Neustar’s Universal Order Connect and Universal Order Connect Marketplace provide the end-to-end order automation needed to stay competitive and keep business customers connected – for MPLS and Broadband.  With up to a 5X improvement in quote-to-cash timelines, this means carriers can deliver more services to more clients more quickly than ever before.

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