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New technology simplifies collection for cable ops

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MUMBAI: Even as industry prepares for phase III of digitisation, here comes a technology that is likely to get more than a warm welcome from cable operators.

UPASS, a front-end automation for the cable sector and mobility solutions provider, has announced that it has successfully integrated with the subscriber management system of Media Nucleus; a development set to change the collection system. While Kottayam-based Star Vision Cable Networks is the first LCO to use the integrated solution, Media Nucleus is in talks with three other operators for installing the solution to their systems.

It was at the recently concluded SCaT that the collaboration took place. "We finished the integration and also showcased a part of it during SCaT," informed Media Nucleus director Santosh Nair. He explained the working of the solution as: "Each subscriber will have an ID, subscriber number or name that will be stored in the subscriber database. Once the subscriber pays the monthly fees, the collection agent will type it on the mobile phone that has all the details relating to the package etc. Also, there is a Bluetooth printer connected to this device, which will help him print a receipt immediately.  The same data will also be sent to the database, which clears the subscriber's outstanding amount."

Technically speaking, UPASS's cloud model acts as data bridge between the mobile device and the SMS server. There is an option for collection entries to be made either in cash or cheque and the relevant data is passed on to the SMS server in real-time.

UPASS managing director Ravindra Deshmukh said: "We are excited that Media Nucleus and UPASS are collaborating to help operators overcome the challenges of billing and collection hurdles by providing data in real-time as trusted and actionable information. Our system benefits end users quickly and with self-service, regardless of data volumes and variety, or whether the data is on-premise or in the cloud."

The advantages of the solution are three-fold. One, it will make the collection process easier. Two, it will make the system more transparent and help MSOs with instant data on subscribers and revenue collected per day. Three, it is more economical, since it can be used even on a simple Rs 500 mobile phone.

Nair said every operator had collection issues and with this system in place, "MSOs will just have to follow up on the data. They will get instant information, unlike earlier, when LCOs would collect data and sometimes, not even reveal it. The information will give an upper hand to MSOs as well, who can show it to their investors."

 

Explained Media Nucleus director technology and delivery Rajiv Tomer: "We had been providing the core solution of subscriber management solution and were looking at integration services to enable collection at the ground level become a part of our solution to our clients.  UPASS, having an industry benchmark solution, gave us the right option to be a go-to-market, providing end-to-end technology with a single integrated platform. We have enabled it in such a way that operators can provide the basic handset to the collection agents, which gets integrated with our SMS."

The solution will be available to operators at a one-time investment of Rs 2500. This apart, "the operator will have to pay less than Re 1 per transaction per month," informed Nair, adding, "We will be meeting operators from Pune next week. We have been getting a good response for the technology."

Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation president Arvind Prabhoo said the technology would address the biggest problem of digitisation, which is collection. "The cost of collection for the operator is approximately Rs 25. Also, there is a huge process involved with it- right from collecting money from each subscriber to putting the data on computer etc. The solution will reduce this burden and make the system more transparent."

"Rs 2500 is just 10 customers for an operator, so it is very economical for them. Also, getting two-three handhelds will also reduce their burden. As for the MSO, they have for long wanted a transparent system, which they can achieve through this," Prabhoo said.

The UPASS solution claims that it provides customer data capture and STB activation in real time, channel/package activation from the LMO phone as well.

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