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Beyond the Bill: The Power of SmartHub

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 [...]

By | April 8th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on Beyond the Bill: The Power of SmartHub

2021 International Women’s Day

“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

By | March 8th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on 2021 International Women’s Day

Selecting the Right Solution for FCC Compliance

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 [...]

By | January 20th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on Selecting the Right Solution for FCC Compliance

Cooperatives Recognized in 2020 J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Ratings

2020 showed more than ever how critical reliable energy is. When the pandemic caused fear and worry, and many areas of the country were hit with devastating storms and wildfires, utility cooperatives stepped up as essential service providers to demonstrate their commitment to community. We are proud to congratulate the 18 NISC Members who were named among J.D. Power’s 2020 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. It was clear, authentic communication with end-users and compassion through acts such as halting disconnects that showcased a true dedication to service and favorable rankings among members and customers. “These satisfaction scores are evidence that kindness and being a good corporate citizen during challenging times is worth all the effort and communication that goes with it,” said John Hazen, managing director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power. “The challenge will come in 2021 as electric utility providers go back to business as usual and continue collections and shut-offs. The way to maintain higher satisfaction will be to continue to communicate when these changes will occur and provide excellent service.” At NISC, we share that same passion for service excellence in the work we do for our Members. We’re proud to support them in their goals and look forward to continuing to be a partner to them as our industries evolve. Congratulations to NISC Member Sawnee EMC for ranking no. 1 in the cooperatives segment, and to all of our Members who made the list: Sawnee EMCSECO EnergyJackson EMCCoServSLEMCOCobb EMCRappahannock Electric CooperativeEnergyUnitedGreat Lakes EnergyMiddle Tennessee EMCClay Electric CooperativePedernales ElectricLee County Electric CooperativeWithlacoochee River Electric CooperativeConnexus EnergyIntermountain Rural Electric Assoc.South Central PowerDEMCO Click here to learn more about the study and to view the full list of awardees.

By | January 13th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on Cooperatives Recognized in 2020 J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Ratings

NISC Operations Solution Featured in Academic Journal

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.

By | January 6th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on NISC Operations Solution Featured in Academic Journal

EDD Building a Better Grid Through Innovation

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.

By | December 17th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on EDD Building a Better Grid Through Innovation

Broadband Marketing Leveraging Subscriber, Device and Service Data

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.

By | December 14th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Broadband Marketing Leveraging Subscriber, Device and Service Data

Finding Value Beyond the Price Tag

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 [...]

By | November 30th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Finding Value Beyond the Price Tag

Bulldogging Bridger and His Biggest Fan

Emotions will be swirling for Bridger Anderson in the moments before his first run at the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR). It’s safe to say the same will be true for his mother and biggest fan, NISC Sales Manager Robin Anderson. Bridger, 22, has qualified to compete in steer wrestling (aka bulldogging) at the NFR, which will run from Dec. 3-12 in Arlington, Texas. The NFR, which will be broadcast live on RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel, is the season-ending championship event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is widely acknowledged to be the world’s premier rodeo. The NFR consists of 10 rounds on 10 consecutive days, with each round providing Bridger an opportunity to add to his 2020 money earnings. At the end of each NFR, two champions are crowned in each event: the finals champion, which is whoever won the NFR with the best cumulative time or score for that event over the 10 rounds, and the world champion, who finished the year with the most money. Robin and the rest of the Anderson family will be in the stands, and have supported Bridger’s bulldogging dreams since he first declared his rodeoing intentions at age 3. Tears welled up in Robin’s eyes as she reflected on her son’s accomplishment. “You want the best for your kids, and to see him work so hard on this goal from such a young age—it’s pretty amazing, and we couldn’t be more proud of him.” Watch this NISC Spotlight video capturing some of Bridger’s final preparations for the NFR, a rundown of the journey that has led him to this point, and some of the people who have helped him along the way: NISC Spotlight: [...]

By | November 19th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Bulldogging Bridger and His Biggest Fan

NISC Partners with Diamond Communication Solutions for Enhanced Mobile Election Balloting

Electing board directors is an important process for NISC Members. More importantly, ensuring your customers can vote, and vote safely is critical. Since 2016, NISC Members have been able to provide online balloting through SmartHub via the web, helping to simplify the director election process. Now, this process has become even easier. Through a partnership with Diamond Communication Solutions, an OSG company, NISC Members will have the ability to allow their members and customers to vote not only through the web, but through the SmartHub app on their mobile device. “This is something our Members have been requesting, and something that has become an even higher priority this year,” said David Bonnett, NISC vice president of product management. “Nothing in 2020 has been conventional, and many of our Members have had to shift more of their business virtual, and that includes conducting director elections. With our Diamond partnership, our Members will be able to simplify that process even more and add additional efficiency for their customers.” Providing an online voting component is not only convenient, but essential. Many NISC Members have moved to fully online or even drive-in Annual Meetings, and having an online voting component can help increase participation by simplifying the balloting process while keeping it secure. “We are excited to partner with NISC and its Members," said Dan Tobin, Senior Vice President of OSG. "Diamond has demonstrated a proven track record in the Trustee Election Management Services space over the last 10 years. Since Diamond was recently acquired by OSG, we can offer maximum value by leveraging technology and improving efficiencies that enable NISC Members to thrive."

By | October 30th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on NISC Partners with Diamond Communication Solutions for Enhanced Mobile Election Balloting