Posted by Laurie Wood, Director, Industry Marketing
Broadband telecommunications is taken for granted in most metropolitan and well-developed areas of the U.S. But across the nation’s vast expanse, many communities remain without broadband access and the benefits it provides to individuals and society as a whole.
That’s changing in the state of Washington through the efforts of NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network), a nonprofit mutual corporation focused on delivering wholesale broadband telecommunications to rural and underserved areas to improve education, public safety, economic development, healthcare and governmental efficiency.
Founded in 2000, the Tacoma-based organization operates a reliable public open-access broadband communication network totaling more than 3,000 fiber miles and supporting 61 last-mile providers that serve more than 260,000 customers. Its approximately 75 B2B customers include public utility districts, state agencies, independent phone companies and Internet service providers.
Recognizing the need for a modern, integrated platform, NoaNet sized up offerings from Microsoft, ServMan and Open Systems before selecting NetSuite.
“We went with NetSuite because of the flexibility of the system, the strength of financials and reporting, the cloud-based aspect and the cost,” said Duane Ball, NoaNet Business Systems and Technology Manager.
Over its two years on NetSuite, NoaNet has significantly improved its business efficiency and ability to serve its customers. For instance, workflow-driven automation has helped NoaNet halve the time needed to issue a sales quote, while sales order fulfillment time has been reduced by one half.
NoaNet is avoiding the cost of a full-time IT professional needed in its previous environment and the need to contract with external consultants. Meanwhile, it’s nearly doubled its network mileage from about 1,800 to more than 3,000 in two years, and is ramping up usage of NetSuite CRM capabilities to improve opportunity management, sales effectiveness and customer service.
“Having all our information in a single NetSuite system really allows us to be effective without adding headcount as we’ve grown. The scalability is a big value for us,” Ball said. "Our data integrity and accuracy has improved vastly with NetSuite by not having to duplicate data across standalone systems."
At the same time, NoaNet has deployed NetSuite Advanced Projects to link sales orders to services, capturing labor, equipment and resold services costs on a per-project basis. Time and expense reporting and approvals through Advanced Projects have simplified previously paper-based processes, while field personnel have mobile access from anywhere in the cloud.
By putting critical information in the hands of business personnel and removing the cost and complexity of in-house IT, NoaNet is leading the effort to expand broadband access in Washington state. Its recently expanded network, funded in part by two federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants totaling nearly $140 million, brings high-capacity Internet connections to hundreds of previously underserved libraries, hospitals, police stations, city halls, colleges, first responders and other institutions.
“Washington is now nationally recognized as one of the most wired states in the country and we’re proud to have contributed to this accomplishment,” said Greg Marney, Chief Executive Officer of NoaNet.