New Edge Village

Nordstrom Oil implements high-speed network

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Just as it takes a village to raise a child, a convenience store chain in Iowa learned it takes five companies to "raise" a new high-speed network that costs less than it was previously paying for slow and cumbersome dial-up telephone lines.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Nordstrom Oil Co., which operates 36 HandiMart Food Stores and restaurants in eastern Iowa, expects to use its broadband network to speed up payment transactions, provide real-time communication of data and information to and from stores, increase profit by reducing overall [image-nocss] operating expenses and provide remote system monitoring and maintenance.

New Edge Networks and four other members of its Retail Broadband Alliance collaborated in helping Nordstrom Oil get a network without increasing the c-store chain's monthly communications costs.

The managed private network uses a combination of DSL and frame relay access technologies. It also complies with new Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards to protect the company and consumers against credit card fraud.

"Our monthly communications costs will be slightly less and our new broadband network will save money in other areas, provide the infrastructure required for future initiatives, and help us become more convenient for our customers," said David Fry, CFO for Nordstrom Oil.

A high-speed network capable of processing payment transactions quickly and providing real-time access to store information "is becoming required infrastructure for remaining competitive," Fry said.

He turned to New Edge Networks and the four member companies of its Retail Broadband Alliance for making the switch to a managed private network that links together all stores and headquarters. This allows Fry to eliminate the cost for separate, dedicated telephone lines for backoffice systems, fuel tank monitors and ATM machines in each of the stores.

Nordstrom Oil also is saving on monthly communications costs by eliminating more than 34 costly frame relay connections from ATM machines in each HandiMart store to the ATM network service provider as well as another high-speed connection between the headquarters site and a payment processor. Instead, it is using direct network connections that New Edge Networks has with both suppliers. Use of the direct connections to these vendors is included in the price of broadband networks from New Edge Networks.

Also, Nordstrom Oil averted the costly purchase of network interface cards to connect their fuel tank monitors to the broadband network. They were able to use existing serial interface cards on fuel tank monitors by purchasing a device that converts data signals used over the serial interface to new Internet Protocol, or IP, signaling used on new broadband networks.

Here is how the five Retail Broadband Alliance member companies joined forces on Nordstrom Oil's network installation. The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas, which provides a computer-based point of sales system and manager work stations to Nordstrom Oil, urged the company to migrate to broadband to get better performance and online control of inventory, labor, and time-keeping functions. Pinnacle introduced Nordstrom Oil to New Edge Networks.

After assessing Nordstrom Oil's needs and preferences, New Edge Networks recommended San Diego-based Systech Corp. for providing the IP converter device for the fuel tank monitors.

New Edge Networks also suggested routing Nordstrom Oil's payment and gift card transactions over redundant direct network connections that New Edge Networks already has in place to National Bankcard Services Inc. Plymouth, Minn.-based National Bankcard Services offers Nordstrom Oil a discount on transactions that come over a high-speed network because they are less costly and more efficient to process than those through dial-up connections.

Fry seized this benefit and suggested a direct connection between New Edge Networks and SHAZAM Inc., Nordstrom Oil's ATM network provider based in Johnston, Iowa. SHAZAM became a Retail Broadband Alliance member and is establishing a direct connection to New Edge Networks. This will eliminate separate frame relay connections from each HandiMart store to SHAZAM. Fry could easily justify the new network investment.

"Small and midsize businesses have limited IT staff and resources for managing the complexity of new networks," said Dan Moffat, president and CEO of New Edge Networks. "We created the Retail Broadband Alliance to make it easy for customers to migrate to broadband without worrying about integrating and managing different suppliers and network elements themselves."

New Edge Networks builds and manages broadband networks for businesses and communications carriers. Through its nationwide network of more than 850 switches and Internet routers, New Edge Networks uses various broadband access technologies for building business networks. These include all types of DSL, frame relay, ATM, cable modems and satellite