Home network providers are sprouting like mushrooms in a damp corner of a golf course (and don’t you just hate that when you think you’ve found your ball down in that musty hollow and it turns out to be a wild fungus?), so it behooves players to find ways to differentiate themselves from the pack. Enure Networks thinks its big differentiator is using an automated home network to fix most problems and take the heat – and call minutes – off CSRs in help centers.

"We have a one-of-a-kind solution that is able to identify failures before the consumer realizes there’s a failure and fix them in a matter of a minute, minute-and-a-half. This completely changes the experience of supporting those services," said David Furstenberg, Enure’s CEO. "My target base will be Comcast and Cox and Charter and Verizon."

Just as an aside, don’t you love how Verizon now gets lumped into these discussions? It’s almost like the phone company is a legitimate competitor – and we all know that’s not the case. Anyway, Enure bases its technology on two elements: a software client in the home network and a server in the call center.

The in-home client can automatically fix most problems, and in the instances when it can’t or that the home user is still unhappy, "the server will help the CSR speak to the consumer with tools to help the consumer fix the problem and shorten the duration of the call," Furstenberg said. Home entry Enure needs a service provider to buy into the proposition and install the software as part of a home network offering, and even the upbeat Furstenberg gets a little down when he considers that hurdle.

"Operators today are taking more of a defensive approach rather than an innovative approach (to home networks). Instead of leaping the wall, they are drawn by the wall and reacting to the wall," he said. "The service provider has all that is needed to control this space, but if they will not wake up and try to cater and improve the service to their customers, there are too many people around that will try to grab this opportunity."

Google, anyone?

Ever the opportunist, Furstenberg believes that "at the end of the day, service providers will do the right thing and will control the home" and that he is "very encouraged by what I hear from the leading MSOs in the U.S. A year ago many of them were saying that we do not want to know anything about problems with PCs and so on. I now hear a very different song in the marketplace, and I think one of the big drivers will be DOCSIS 3.0." Chasing the holy DOCSIS 3.0 If ever there were a holy grail for cable, it’s got to be DOCSIS 3.0, which will cure everything but the common cold. The only way to do that is to move any remnants of the industry out of Denver.

But DOCSIS 3.0 isn’t here yet, and home networks are. Furstenberg knows what puts the spark cable ops’ eyes – dollar signs – so his business is built around the proposition that a properly installed and operated home network can save money and turn a call center from a loss center to a profit-and-loss center.

"Call centers today … don’t know where to focus," he said. "Based on our trials with service providers, we believe we will be able to reduce the number of minutes to call centers by completely eliminating a call. Something between 50 to 70 percent of the minutes to the call center can disappear."

That’s enough to at least get the company in discussions in "different stages with a number of MSOs in North America," Furstenberg said. "DOCSIS 3.0 will be a great enabler, but we are not depending on DOCSIS 3.0 in terms of starting the service. Our software is ready today, and I believe that relatively soon we will be able to hand over some initial deployments in North America that, because of NDA (that’s a non-disclosure agreement, something that every cable customer signs before the morning’s coffee is even cool enough to sip) I cannot share with you at the moment." – Jim Barthold

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