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Biller Derivion Gets First Cable Order

Pennsylvania-based Service Electric Cable TV Inc. has selected e-billing-application provider Derivion for Internet-bill presentment, marking the vendor's first contract in the cable industry.

The contract will move the cable, telephone and Internet-service provider closer to paperless transactions.

Service Electric's 160,000 customers currently have the choice of paying their bills through a direct-debit option. However, the cable provider still bears the expense of sending bills to customers to update accounts.

Derivion, in a joint initiative with First Union Corp., will install its "inetBiller" as a transparent extension of Service Electric's Web site. The page will provide electronic invoicing, and can accept payments.

General manager Jack Capparell said virtual billing is one of the operator's most important initiatives this year.

Service Electric offers several billing options. Customers who pay for an entire year in advance get discounts of 3 percent to 5 percent off their bills. Those who pay quarterly get 3 percent discounts. All customers have the option of automatic bill payments, with their monthly cable tabs automatically deducted from their checking accounts.

"Our customers have been asking for Internet billing for quite some time," Capparell noted.

With the Derivion product, Service Electric customers will be able to review the previous three months'bills online, formatted precisely as they would be on a paper statement. Five-year account histories are also archived.

At present, Service Electric sends paper bills to 80 percent of its accounts. Capparell anticipates cutting that rate to 75 percent as customers take advantage of the online option.

Payments are made over a secure link to the company's Web page, and customers pick their own payment dates within a 30-day window.

The company currently offers video, telephony and high-speed and dial-up Internet service. However, only video and Internet are bundled on a bill.

Capparell said the company had a relationship with First Union, and the bank had a relationship with cable newcomer Derivion. "It seemed like a natural fit," he added.