The Broadband Service Providers Imperative

Taken on an annual basis, 40 to 120 percent of customers are calling repair centers on a yearly basis — a dismal statistic indeed

Of all the orders processed, 15 to 35 percent fall out, or fail in the automation process. Service providers need to put in place methods so that these failed orders are automated as well.

There are many root causes of these failures. One example involves network elements not responding to Element Management systems (EMS). These EMSs control multiple Network Elements (NEs), comprising a network from a single vendor. Usually service providers have multiple EMSs from multiple vendors’ network equipment. Many times, the EMSs may have bugs that result in error-prone control of the network elements. Identifying these bugs is often difficult, as they may be intermittent and require specialized logging and review for effective communication back to the vendor. An alternative is to reach the NE directly, bypassing the EMS, to carry out the control functions. This will increase the success rate of completed orders.

Another example is insufficient bandwidth between network elements on the control channel. Solving this challenge requires monitoring and managing of the control channel, over which commands to the NE are sent.

In the same vein, a third example is the level of expertise of the personnel contending with multiple EMSs and OSS/BSSs to fix the orders that have fallen out. Providing the personnel with a single UI that integrates these systems would give the service provider the benefits of lower training costs and a simplified user interface. This keeps the complexities of various EMSs from different vendors out of sight of operations personnel. This single, integrated UI will further reduce training costs and make resources flexible to be able to work across vendors without specialized training.

Many of these failed operations require field operations personnel to visit the customer or the equipment terminating outside the customer premises—the outside plant. Once the field technician is on location, he or she needs to call the operations center to do any provisioning tasks such as resetting a circuit, changing a port, or so on. This leads to delays (hold time) and then an interaction with personnel at the operations center. The result occupies the time of two resources. The operations personnel have to look up inventory platforms to validate a port move, for instance. As a cost-saving measure, field operations can be moved to an app on a handheld device. The handheld device app can be implemented to permit secure access to the network with a simple UI, enabling the field technician to run commands that manage the network and adjust allocation of resources as required. This creates a better work experience for the technician while also significantly reducing the need for interactions with the operations center personnel. This can lead to a much-improved customer experience with rapid service delivery.

Another area where the above capability would have a huge impact is repair centers. Repair centers routinely take calls from 4 to 10 percent of the deployed customer base per month. Taken on an annual basis, 40 to 120 percent of customers are calling repair centers on a yearly basis—a dismal statistic indeed.

Repair includes customer education, along with actual problems in the network and issues with the customer home equipment and Wi-Fi delivery to that equipment. Many of these network problems can be automated. By automating—and linking the automation to an Integrated Voice Response System or a web portal—much of this type of manual customer support can be reduced or eliminated. The typical model for service providers to lower costs has been to “off shore” and use call centers in the Philippines, India or other low-cost geographies. As a result, the customer experience is often less than satisfactory. Automation of “network fix,” and implementation of the ability to  “customer premises equipment reboot” will lead to lower cost for the service provider and higher satisfaction for the customer. Combined with network operations that can be performed via apps for field technicians, along with much simplified UI at the operations center, this direction is the optimal path to reducing costs.

Manage Social Media Grievances

Furthermore, by tying in to social media feeds, the service provider can access customer grievances. Using this information, the service provider can proactively direct a dissatisfied customer to a customer portal for a specific action. This level of customer service increases customer retention and leads to higher customer satisfaction scores.

As service provider IT teams figure out how to deliver the operational efficiencies identified above, the service provider needs to maximize the effectiveness of bandwidth provided to the consumer—thus creating the possibility of Pipes with Priorities.


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