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Out With The Old, In With The New

K&G Petroleum is recognized for its conversion to high-speed broadband service

Switching from a dial-up Internet system to broadband may seem like a no-brainer, but the conversion isn't cheap or easy. Littleton, Colo.-based K&G Petroleum, a ConocoPhillips marketer that operates 140 convenience stores and gas stations within the Centennial State, took on the challenge and pulled off the feat with aplomb, earning it the 2012Convenience Store News Outstanding Tech Implementation Award.

The effort to provide K&G's c-stores with the state-of-the-art technology was spearheaded by Basudev Dahal, the company's chief technology officer. He led a companywide effort to implement Hughes Network Systems' LinkSafe Broadband technology across all its stores and K&G's corporate office. The system was fully integrated at every location by late 2011.

"I started looking at the Hughes broadband system back in 2007," Dahal, who accepted the award on May 22 at NACStech, told CSNews. "I thought it would be really valuable for our business. Not only was the system great for the Internet, but credit card processing at the in-store level as well."

He added that the Hughes broadband solution provides tremendous security against costly point-of-sale breaches. "It has a firewall that is really important to protect customer credit card data," noted Dahal. "Also, the system we chose allows customer data to travel for less time between the server and the terminal [than competitor systems]. So, a customer can sign for their purchase and complete a transaction in a very short amount of time."

Before the new broadband system could be implemented, the chief technology officer prepared a presentation for the chain's upper management to see. "I presented a prototype of the system to upper management and showed them exactly how I would make it work," he recalled.

According to Dahal, one thing that really sold K&G's top officers was that all transactions could be reviewed at the company's headquarters, allowing for daily and monthly reports showing which locations had strong sales figures and where there was some lag.

"We can now review data real-time and analyze it very quickly," he said. "Before we had this implementation, we would have to dial in to a server and wait until a particular store finished [uploading] data. Other stores would need to wait before they could upload their data."

Dahal admitted, though, that there were some setup challenges to implement the new broadband system companywide. One of the biggest obstacles was getting the virtual private network (VPN) to work at all the stores. "At some stores, it worked right away. At other stores and the home office, we had to work on routing cables," he explained.

However, Dahal was able to overcome those challenges. "It's never easy. And if something doesn't go the way you want it to, it's always a challenge," he said.

Now that the new broadband system has been in place for several months, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive at the store level.

"The store operators are very pleased," he said. "They know we are supporting them in real-time whenever there is a problem. We can now get things fixed in a really short amount of time. I'm very excited about what we were able to provide for them."

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