SmartHub, NISC’s web and mobile application, has been helping broadband and utility customers pay their bills and understand their usage for almost a decade. But the true power of SmartHub goes far beyond the bill. Along with easy-to-understand bill and account management, customers can report service issues and outages through the app or via text message, manage their wifi networks to maximize speed, receive important info in their preferred communications channel and receive important updates all from a single app. NISC Members not only have the same account information, communication and network management tools but can also leverage SmartHub to gauge interest in new services, increase program enrollment and collect votes electronically for annual meetings, all in the same app or on the web. For an expanded view of Smarthub's features, please click here. The Power of SmartHub Wifi and Network ManagementYou can effectively resolve broadband service interruptions, or even correct them before the customers become aware of an issue, by managing the internet gateway and the devices behind it connecting to your broadband service. The critical component is that your customers can leverage the same tools and resolve issues on their own right through SmartHub. Enhanced Account Management and Issue Reporting With SmartHub, your customers can pay their bills, view their usage and manage their account right in the mobile app or on the web. Customers can report service issues quickly and easily through the app or via text message. Multi-Channel Messaging Each of your customers is different, and SmartHub has a communication channel to fit their preferences. Whether it’s text, push notification, printed letter, email or phone, your customers can set their preferences and you can be sure your messages are received. Enrollment [...]
Lake Saint Louis, Mo., March 11, 2021 – National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of technology and IT solutions to utility and telecommunications/broadband organizations, held its first ever virtual Annual Meeting March 11 to recap a year of adaptation and growth, and provide a look ahead to what's next for NISC and its Membership. The meeting, themed "Forward," was also NISC's first joint Annual Meeting of NISC Members from the telecommunications, utility and multi-service industries. In his State of the Cooperative address, NISC President and CEO Dan Wilbanks reminisced that NISC closed its offices and shifted to working from home one year ago this week. And despite facing immense challenges, NISC and its Membership have adapted and overcame. "We've learned to support our Members and employees remotely, and learned to collaborate effectively in this virtual environment by changing some of our business practices and taking advantage of the tools available to us," Wilbanks said. "We've had a lot of success virtually in the last year, and I'm so proud of our team to seamlessly move to their home offices while keeping their focus on serving our Membership." Some successes in the past year include the implementation of 40 new Members virtually, holding nearly 500 virtual events—including THRIVE in October 2020, Member trainings and business process reviews—and taking nearly 130,000 support calls while maintaining a 98.4 percent Member satisfaction rating through the HDI survey. "While we've done very well in this virtual environment, we miss having our employees together. The collaboration and camaraderie that comes with being together is something we really miss," Wilbanks said. "We also miss seeing our Members face to face. We hope to get back to in-person visits later this [...]
“Why are you doing this?” It’s a question that many women pursuing degrees, leadership positions or jobs in typically male-dominated fields hear too often. Though great strides have been made in the quest for women’s equality, there is still work to be done. It’s also a question that some of our female employees, including the women featured in NISC’s 2021 International Women’s Day video, have been asked at one point or another in their lifetime. Their answer? Because women are more than capable of getting the job done. We are so proud to employ women in an array of areas that include engineering, support, user experience, sales and software development, as well as in leadership positions across our organization. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day and check out the video to hear more about the importance of this day, navigating the challenges of the past year and what the world needs to know about women’s achievements. NISC employees featured in our 2021 IWD Video: Ashley Lamar - Lead Sr. Application Specialist Smruti Naik - GIS ETL Associate Linda Richardson - Manager, Business Development & Sales Tracy Jahner - Professional Services Consultant
Time is of the Essence FCC testing began in 2020 for major communications providers who received funding under CAF Phase II. Providers who’ve received funding under alternative funding mechanisms are required to begin testing in 2021. While testing and reporting for these funding mechanisms must begin in 2021, the FCC will not be applying penalties for providers who can’t meet the strict speed and latency reporting requirements until 2022. January 1, 2022 will be here before you know it. The time is now for all who are required to meet FCC test requirements to select an intuitive, easy-to-use solution that is well-integrated with their enterprise system. Avoiding Pitfalls and Surprises An infrastructure was developed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to measure compliance and report performance. There are specific requirements to prove speed and latency compliance, and the intricate nature of these requirements cannot be overlooked. The FCC requirements will test your performance through connections to specified Internet Exchange Points (IXP) during peak usage hours, not just your own access network. Be strategic in your approach to ensure you are prepared and avoid costly surprises. Look for a turnkey solution that includes not only test tools, but the networking infrastructure that guarantees test traffic transits the FCC required IXP for your test locations. Integration with the Enterprise When selecting a solution for FCC compliance testing, communications providers should consider a solution that not only offers a standalone test execution tool but also an integrated enterprise software suite that can deliver a solution that integrates across all key platforms. It’s important that the solution selected seamlessly integrates into the enterprise system, including billing and mapping software for site location identification, and for association of subscriber identity to active sites required for randomized test site location selection. While there are a number of standalone solutions on the market, there are few that combine data from mapping and billing with test execution to reduce the burden of coordinating data flow between the enterprise and test software, reporting and analysis tools. Standards-Based Reporting with Ease & Accuracy An efficient reporting and testing solution should leverage network equipment already in place, avoiding the significant costs additional customer [...]
NISC’s Distributed Engineering Workstation software (DEW) was featured in a paper in Energies, an open access journal of scientific research, technology development, engineering policy and management covering energy supply, conversion, dispatch and final use. The paper, primarily authored by National Renewable Energy Laboratory personnel and coauthored by NISC Senior Product Line Manager Robert Broadwater, focuses on the benefits of differing technologies in analyzing today’s complex energy grid, from generation to the end consumer. The paper’s authors compared different ways to analyze the complex grid using various tools currently available in the industry and from the U.S. Department of Energy. One tool considered was the DEW approach of an Integrated Systems Model. The authors conclude that the technologies leveraged within the DEW architecture produces the most accurate results and, as demonstrated by examples, calculates the results quicker. Read the paper at: Integrated Transmission and Distribution System Modeling of Power Systems: State-of-the-Art and Future Research Directions. Learn more about DEW and the Integrated Systems Model at edd-us.com.
Electrical Distribution Design (EDD), an NISC company, has a history of providing analysis tools needed for adapting to the changing electric energy landscape. Continuing that history of innovation, EDD is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy in a project that will create a cyberattack-resistant, more efficient and more stable U.S. electrical grid powered by renewable energy. Additional project partners in this effort are Florida State University, University of Delaware and Virginia Tech. The three-year project is named the Faster-than-Real-Time Simulation with Demonstration for Resilient Distributed Energy Resource Integration. The targeted outcome—development of a Measurement and Model Integrator for Ensuring Grid Security (M2IEGS) system. According to NISC Senior Product Line Manager Robert Broadwater, the ongoing transition to a renewable-based electric grid brings increasing generation uncertainty involving large numbers of distributed generators, and dependence on increased communications. This will require real-time irradiance, wind and other weather measurements, along with defenses against cyberattacks and system instabilities. “The M2IEGS system enables detection of grid abnormalities and coordinates voltage control and grid stability in real time,” Broadwater said. “Well placed real-time measurements and renewable generation forecasting will provide clarity on grid operation, and for the first time ever, operators will be able to holistically monitor the system from transmission through secondary distribution, detecting and reacting to instabilities and abnormal events.” The M2IEGS software is being developed and lab tested in 2021-2022, according to Broadwater, and be tested in the field throughout the second half of 2022. To learn more about the project, visit edd-us.com/m2iegs.
Broadband service demand continues to grow at a rapid pace across the country. There has also been an explosion of WiFi connected devices including mobile devices, smart appliances, voice control, multi-media and gaming platforms, security and more. As service delivery and assurance has become increasingly more complex, there has been a growing need to manage services all the way to the connected devices themselves. There is power in integration. And NISC along with their strategic partners have collaborated to leverage valuable end-user data to enable Members to more effectively market their services with better targeting based on subscriber insights, which in turn increases the average revenue per user. Multi-channel marketing campaigns have been developed to enable Members to address up-sell opportunities while enabling vastly improved subscriber experience. Managed Device Up-Sell :: Leverages subscriber and inventory data to target subscribers who are deploying non-managed customer premise equipmentManaged WiFi Up-Sell :: Leverages subscriber WiFi service entitlement data to target subscribers who are not subscribed to Managed WiFi ServicesWiFi Mesh Device Up-Sell :: Leverages the connected device signal strength data to target subscribers who have poor WiFi coverage and can benefit from additional WiFi access points to improve their experienceService Tier Up-Sell :: Leverages data from service bandwidth reporting to target subscribers consuming 100% of their bandwidth who could benefit from a higher tier NISC delivers solutions that provide the valuable tools you need to operate your broadband service at peak efficiency and provide true customer care and support. Click here to learn more.
National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) has been awarded the Pro Patria Award by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the highest award that may be awarded by an ESGR State Committee, for their support of National Guard and Reserve employees. The award is presented annually and recognizes employers for their leadership and practices, including adopting personnel policies that make it easier for employees to participate in the Guard and Reserve.
When exploring options for an Auto Configuration Server (ACS) device and WiFi management solution, it is critical to consider all elements that deliver true value. Weight should be placed on finding a technology solution that supports your vision. But how does one justify the price tag beyond the promised functionality? Vendor IndependenceThe first and foremost criteria should be to find a solution designed to support any device that implements the Broadband Forum TR-069 standards. The ACS should integrate with a large number of device types from different vendors, allowing for the broadest set of device choices to reduce supply chain risk and provide negotiating power when selecting customer premises equipment (CPE) vendors. Covering a full complement of WAN technologies ensures the solution is designed for any and all broadband providers. SecurityYou will want a solution that ensures maximum security from the carrier data center to the ACS, which is critical for cloud deployments. Ensure the technology has a protocol in place to analyze every device to determine whether it can support the level of transport security necessary to protect device communications. A solution that truly supports a strong cybersecurity strategy will offer a secure device proxy for customers who have legacy-managed devices the industry no longer considers secure. Providing this level of security gives the carrier peace of mind that their customers’ home networks are safe. IntegrationWhile there are a number of competitors in the market today, scope of integration should be a deciding factor in determining which solution best serves your needs. Ideally, a solution should talk to your customer care and billing as well as engineering and operations systems to promote peak operational efficiency and effectively communicate across your organization through automation. Integration breeds automation – and it is core to best serve staff from the front office to the field to ensure the highest level of customer service and satisfaction. Total Cost of OwnershipEnsure you find a [...]