The Communications industry is continuously improving and expanding the services it offers private residences and businesses. The “Triple-Play”: High Speed Internet access, Video on Demand and VoIP are only a few of the new technologies and services being rolled out by progressive communication providers today and in the next few years. The level of sophistication of the inside and outside plant is growing exponentially to support the growing demands and today’s providers need tools to plan, engineer and manage this intelligent network efficiently.
Gone are the days when paper maps and documentation sufficed for these complicated networks. Even automated tools such as unintelligent drawings, diagrams, and spreadsheets have limitations, which in effect handcuff the operator when trying to manage and trouble shoot the network or expand the customer base.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can turn paper drawings and existing CAD files into an intelligent network model. It is the tool of choice for communication providers who wish to maximize Return on Investment (ROI) for their plant.
GIS and an Intelligent Network Model are used today in a host of applications and by practically every department in a communication provider’s organization. The most compelling ROI is derived when the network data in the GIS is shared with everyone throughout the communications enterprise. This can be through easy-to-use Web access or through use in the field by technicians to locate customers, outages, or devices anywhere in the network.
Using GIS and the Intelligent Network Model it houses can also truly enhance the value of Network Management/OSS systems. Rather than loading data into Network Management systems with time consuming and difficult to maintain spreadsheets, interfaces can be implemented between Network Management, GIS and Billing Systems. By sharing a common network model, data flows easily between these essential systems. Network data entry and maintenance can be consolidated in a single location. The powerful capability for root cause analysis found in most Network Management systems can be most fully utilized when the detailed device data and connectivity maintained in the GIS is shared.
The Intelligent Network Model is essential and can be used by practically every department. The Operations department uses GIS for network monitoring, trouble ticketing dispatch, tracing to locate fiber outages, and locating affected customers. In addition to design and facility management, Engineering users the GIS and the Intelligent Network Model for Call Before You Dig responses, retrieving information such as services available for an address(es) or to determine amplifier, node, or power supply feeding specific addresses. Additionally, the GIS can generate engineering inventory reports such as total cable footage and for house or device counts within a specified geographic area.
The Intelligent Network Model is needed by Billing and other business departments for purging duplicate addresses, discovering missing addresses not in the billing system but serviceable, managing accurate rate center and e911 boundary relationships, and facilitating accurate mailing by CASS-certifying addresses. Accounting uses the model to generating inventory reports of assets, for franchise fee calculations, duct and pole leasing invoices and payments, generation of reports to taxing authorities, and identifying retransmission royalties
Finally, Sales and Marketing takes advantage of the model for locating commercial addresses within a certain distance from the network, integration with demographic data, targeted marketing campaigns, churn rate correlation with calls, locating high demand services areas, identifying market trends, evaluating marketing campaigns, and to generate reports to identify and reduce repeated services.
The use of GIS and the Intelligent Network Model are absolutely essential to manage today’s increasing complex networks. The ROI is well proven and often the payback can be achieved in matter of months.