Tiscali Business Services newsletter
Welcome to the June issue of the Tiscali Business Services newsletter.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that Tiscali Group has reached an agreement with TalkTalk , the wholly owned subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse Group PLC, for the sale of Tiscali's UK operations (including the brands Pipex, Nildram and Freedom2Surf) to TalkTalk. The agreement is expected to complete in the next few weeks and so you can be rest assured the newsletter will be packed with exciting news going forward!
Tiscali remains the largest alternative wholesale DSL provider to BT as well as leading IPVPN provider and we are committed to the continued support of your business. In the first article, Warren Potts, Head of IPVPN, talk you through the most recent developments within provisioning which are already reaping benefits for our resellers.
The first few months of 2009 have also seen some new improvements to Tiscali's Availability Checker which will provide our resellers with increased flexibility in building automated provisioning systems. Product Manager Rob Stanley explains what is new if you check the Checker!
I hope you will enjoy this month's update and find it useful. Any feedback on our featured articles will be greatly appreciated. We also welcome your ideas on topics for future newsletters.
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Although no large developments within Provisioning have taken place in the first few months of 2009, there have been several significant smaller developments which are already reaping benefits for Tiscali's resellers. Warren Potts, Head of IPVPN, explains.
"First to report is that our ADSL Checker is being updated to include a visual display of capacity for Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) and DataStream Exchanges," explains Warren. "This will enable resellers to explore alternative products if no capacity is present, and in the process our aim is to help them save their own time. The XML version is already available.
"Eagle-eyed customers will also notice a reduction in the number of times they see error code "920 Cannot Create Account" occurring during the provisioning lifecycle. This error code was originally set up and used as a 'catch all' if no other error number was explicitly captured. We are continuing to break down the more common issues associated with this error and will now warn the operator through online error messages if specific infrastructure is needed to support the progression of an order.
For example, if LLU is unavailable at a particular exchange or there is no capacity, the operator can identify the issue and has the opportunity to select alternative products or possibly wait until capacity becomes available."
Issues associated with LLU Tied Pair allocations, such as mismatches between Tiscali and Openreach data have also been addressed. "On the whole, issues associated with Tied Pairs have been removed and other blocking points captured," explains Warren. "To demonstrate how much this has changed, for the first four months of this year, 99.5% of business to business wholesale accepted orders (these are orders approved by Tiscali and BT Wholesale/Openreach) have been successfully completed by the customer delivery date.
"Previously the average monthly figure for the end of 2008 was 97%. Confidence in our systems has grown and the number of new mid-market (IPVPN and Enterprise) provisions for which I have responsibility achieved their best Q1 since this division was established in 2003, despite current economic market conditions!"
Tiscali Fault Management Service (TFMS) has also been updated, thereby enabling provisioning issues to be logged as well as the existing repair functionality. These faults are submitted directly into Tiscali ticketing systems and all provisioning tickets are subsequently managed out of Stoke Mandeville.
"We encourage all customers to use this interface as it makes the management of tickets far more efficient than simply relying on email or direct phone calls," explains Warren. "For Wholesale ADSL, the provisioning interface within TFMS also enables customers to request expedites for DSL orders. This means that customers may request an earlier provisioning date than that originally returned by BT Wholesale or Openreach. It should be noted that an ancillary charge is levied if the expedite is successful. Our IPVPN customers should continue to contact the Tiscali VPN Provisioning team directly if they require DSL expedites."
Warren acknowledges the positive response from customers regarding the quality of staff at Tiscali's customer support centre at Stoke Mandeville: "Tiscali will continue to move offshore business to business provisioning support to this centre of excellence. Only 15% of provisioning calls are now made to offshore agents and the plan is to reduce this to zero in the near future."
For Warren, Tiscali's own ability to fix and improve systems is just one part of the story: "We are now also providing extended training for our customers' staff," he explains. "This will cover aspects of provisioning such as the operation of the Tiscali core systems, error codes (understanding and dealing with them), and the use of pre-checks and reports to facilitate order flow."
Furthermore, an overall understanding of broadband will be presented so that a customer operator can understand why services may vary on a site by site basis and why some lines may fail. Further details of the training programme will be announced in the next four weeks.
For resellers who use our XML API Availability Checker, and even for those of you who do not currently, you may be interested to learn of some developments which have taken place recently to enhance the service. Rob Stanley, Tiscali Product Manager, explains what is new if you check the Checker!
"Overall, the benefits of using the XML Checker are that it provides our resellers with much more flexibility in building automated provisioning systems. They can use real-time responses to choose the most applicable and cost effective product for their end user based on responses about the capability at the exchange and the quality of the specific line.
"It is an extremely powerful tool when used in combination with Tiscali's DSL provisioning XML APIs (current version 5.2)."
The latest release of XML API Availability Checker is Version 3.0 and includes several new enhancements, over and above previous release of Version 2.5. As Rob explains: "It is worth mentioning that some resellers are using a version prior to the release of 2.5 so they may not be entirely familiar with those updates, let alone the latest. It really is worth exploring the features and benefits of all these recent enhancements which have taken place."
For example, a new field that has been added that reports on the actual port capacity for DataStream: "This provides more detailed information of current capacity on DataStream at the exchange which enables resellers to make more informed decisions when choosing the correct product for an end user," explains Rob.
"This also minimises the amount of administrative time taken up when dealing with DataStream orders that fail due to lack of capacity."
A new RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status has been introduced to show capacity:
With the development of fully unbundled (MPF) LLU products underway, the Availability Checker also now reports on the availability of SMPF and MPF services at the exchange.
"The existing capacity tags for SMPF and MPF used to return a simple Yes or No to describe capacity availability," says Rob. "These fields have also been changed to return a RAG status and have similar benefits to the DataStream scenario."
Another new field in Version 3.0 is an estimated Annex M upstream speed. "Not only does this show the potential gains in upstream speed over normal ADSL1 and ADSL 2+ technologies," explains Rob, "but if a reseller is buying SDSL (M) services this latest enhancement is very useful in determining which of these products the line can support."
Because of the benefits, Rob is keen for resellers using older versions of the API to transition to the latest version. "Given these very latest enhancements, versions of Availability Checker older than 2.5 will be closed during the coming months and our customers will be notified exactly when we expect this to happen. The message is - 'transition to Version 3.0 as early as possible to take advantage of the new enhancements available!'.
Proposed sunset dates for some of the older versions of the API specification can be seen below (formal notifications will follow).
The documentation for Version 3.0 of the API can be found on the Tiscali Business Services Partner Portal website at www.tiscali-business.co.uk under the Technical WADSL Specification button (after logging in).
All of this additional functionality will be reflected in the Availability Checker GUI web page in the next version that is due to be completed in the first week of June. This too is being enhanced to detail current capacity at the exchange. An example of how this page will look is below.
Throughout the course of the last six months we have put greater focus and energy on improving the Tiscali Reseller programme and our relationship with you.
We have introduced webinar product training, enhanced our comms to you via our Newsletters and launched Annex M.
But we want to improve the way we do business with you even further.
We want to continue to enhance the monitoring of our performance against a number of key areas in our business relationship and provide you with an opportunity to make your opinions, good or bad, known to us.
Thus we will be launching a Tiscali customer satisfaction survey.
This will be the first survey to our Tiscali reseller base and we would like your feedback on several key areas so that we can identify similarities and differences by; region, suppliers, product etc.
We promise you that we will act on the information we get from you through the survey and we will do our best to work through the key issues identified.
Please take the time to complete the survey, it is important to us because the more we know about what you like or don't like the better position we will be in to improve the products and service we provide.