Telecommunications

Fulcrum Technologies CATS ALM Solution Featured on RCR Wireless:

Fulcrum ALM was featured in an article in the RCR Wireless Opinion Page "Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?":

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?   Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted.  According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more.  In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place.  The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM.  Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.  Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons:  –It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment.  –It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.  –It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders.  –It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.  –It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding.  –It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments.  –It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.  –It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking.  –It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates.  The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning.  A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.  ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information.  Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located.  A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.  The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies.  As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.  The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%.  For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit  FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES  today.    To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful  RCR site, starting with this article's original post .    

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?

Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted.

According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more.

In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place.

The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM.

Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons:

–It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment.

–It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.

–It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders.

–It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.

–It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding.

–It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments.

–It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.

–It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking.

–It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates.

The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning.

A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information.

Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located.

A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.

The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies.

As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.

The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%.

For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES today.  

To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful RCR site, starting with this article's original post

 

Telecommunications (Telecom) Terminology

The global telecommunications industry is full of acronyms, technical terms, slang and jargon. Find the meanings of common terminology used within the telecommunications industry below:

2D Barcode

A 2D (two-dimensional) barcode is a graphical image that stores information both horizontally -- as one-dimensional bar codes do -- and vertically. As a result of that construction, 2D codes can store up to 7,089 characters, significantly greater storage than is possible with the 20-character capacity of a unidimensional barcode.

ACCESS SEEKER

A retailer of telecommunications services who seeks to access to the services of the incumbent on a wholesale basis.

AON

Active Optical Network - a general term that describes any network configuration in which Multiplexors (MUXs), either in a Central Office or a cabinet are used to connect multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) via dark fibres. A Point to Point network is an AON with an emphasis on direct connection to each ONU, in which case each dark fibre provides a direct point-to-point physical connection between the MUX in a Central Office and each ONU.

BG

Business Gateway - a more sophisticated form of the Residential Gateway (RG) which is described below. BGs contain extra features and often have more physical connection points, which make them more suitable to some businesses than a standard RG.

BNG

Broadband Network Gateway - a general term for a piece of network equipment that terminates Layer 2 Services at the Service Provider part of the Network. BNGs provide Service Providers with mechanisms for management of data traffic on a per End User basis. They are described in more detail in the TR-101 standard.

CDMA

Code Division Multiple Access – a US developed mobile phone standard. Originally second generation but upgraded to deliver third generation services to compatible handsets.

CFH

Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH), established to manage the Government’s $1.5 billion investment in Ultra-Fast Broadband infrastructure.

CIR

Committed Information Rate, meaning the rate of data transfer committed by the LFC to be provided as a minimum to end users.

CO

Central Office - The termination point for the Local Fibre Company's (LFC) Network. The Central Office is where the OLTs and/or MUXs (as applicable) are installed. Central Offices are expected to connect to at least several thousand End User premises.

Co-location Service

Space and associated services such as power, cooling, access, lighting etc. at the CO.

CPE

Customer Premises Equipment, such as routers or wireless modems.

cpm

Cents per minute.

Dark fibre

Optical fibre physical infrastructure without any active equipment attached. Dark, as it has no source of light inherent in the network design.

Datagram

A self-contained packet of data that carries with it the source and destination information for correct routing via a packet-switch network.

DOCSIS 3.0

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification - an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer over an existing HFC network.

Downstream

Data transfer from the Internet to the user, also known as "download".

DSL

Digital subscriber line – method of transmitting high speed data and voice simultaneously over a copper phone line.

EAS

Ethernet Aggregation Switch - a specialised piece of network equipment used to aggregate data traffic to/from many Multiplexors (MUXs) or Optical Line Terminals (OLTs). EASs provide a connection mechanism to Broadband Network Gateways (BNGs).

Ethernet

Described by the IEEE 802.3 standards, "Ethernet" is a particular style of data traffic management and formatting for Layer 2 Services, and is increasingly being established as the dominant Layer 2 Service technology throughout the world.

EUBA

Enhanced Unbundled Bitstream Service - a regulated Layer 2 Service in the New Zealand market today.

FTTB / FTTH / FTTP

Fibre To The Business / Fibre To The Home / Fibre To The Premise - generic terms for any broadband network architecture which deploys optical fibre all the way to the relevant end-user premise.

FTTC / FTTN

Fibre To The Cabinet / Fibre To The Node - generic terms for broadband network architecture which deploys optical fibre to terminate in a streets cabinet or nodes up to some distance away from end-user premises, with the final connection to end-user premises typically being provided by legacy copper technology.

GEM

GPON Encapsulation Method - a mechanism for the management of data traffic transport between multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) and an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) in a GPON network configuration.

GPON

Gigabit Passive Optical Network - a specific standard for connection of Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) to multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) in which groups of ONUs are connected to an OLT using a shared dark fibre configuration. This is described in the ITU-T G.984 standard.

GPONSplitter

A specialised piece of network equipment that connects a single dark fibre from one side to many dark fibres on the other. It is used in the GPON network configuration to allow many Optical Network Units (ONUs) to share a single port on an Optical Line terminal (OLT) - hence the use of the word "Splitter" - splitting one dark fibre into many.

GSM

Global System for Mobile communications – a widely used digital, second generation mobile phone standard.

Handover Point Identifier

An as-yet-to-be-determined information tag than can be used for identifying a physical network point at which the LFC's Layer 2 Service is "connected" to the network equipment that is owned and operated by a Service Provider.

HFC

Hybrid fibre-coaxial - a broadband network which combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. HFC has been commonly deployed globally by cable TV operators since the early 1990s, and in New Zealand by TelstraClear in Wellington and Christchurch.

IP

Internet Protocol – method that computers use to communicate over the internet.

ISP

Internet Services Provider.

ITP

Invitation to Participate in the partner selection process for the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative.

ITU

International Telecommunication Union.

Layer 1 Services

Services that operate at Layer 1 of the Open Systems Interconnection Model of network architecture. Layer 1 is normally associated with passive fibre optic network infrastructure. Often known as "dark fibre" or "unlit" services.

Layer 2 Services

Services that operate at Layer 2 of the Open Systems Interconnection Model of network architecture. Layer 2 is normally associated with active fibre optic network infrastructure (the electronics that light fibre). Often known as "lit" services.

LFC

A local fibre company, being an entity in which Crown Fibre Holdings, the Government and a partner will hold shares, and through which the investment of Crown Fibre Holdings and the partner in relation to the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative will be effected.

MDU

Multi-dwelling unit.

MTAS

Mobile termination access services, which for the purposes of the Commission’s recent MTAS investigation, were mobile-to-mobile termination, fixed-to-mobile termination and termination of SMS messages.

MUC

Multi Unit Complex.

MUX

Multiplexor - a general term used to describe a piece of network equipment that terminates many dark fibres in an Active Optical Network (AON) configuration, and is installed in centralised locations within the LFC business.

MVNO

Mobile virtual network operator - An MVNO is an operator that provides mobile phone service but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum, nor does it have the entire infrastructure required to provide mobile telephone service.

NFV

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that uses IT virtualization related technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into various building blocks that may be connected or chained, to create communication services.

NFV relies upon, but differs from, traditional server virtualization techniques such as those used in enterprise IT organizations. A virtualized network function, or VNF, may consist of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes, on top of industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, or even cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function.

For example, a virtualized session border controller function could be deployed to protect a network without the typical cost and complexity of obtaining and installing physical units. Other examples of NFV include virtualized load balancers, firewalls, intrusion detection devices and WAN accelerators.

ODN

Optical Distribution Network - a general term for the specialised dark fibre configuration of a GPON network in which many ONUs share a single dark fibre for connection to an OLT.

OLT

Optical Line Terminal - a general term for a specialised piece of GPON network equipment that terminates many dark fibres and is installed in centralised locations within the LFC Network. An OLT terminates the dark fibres from many Optical Network Units (ONUs).

ONT

Optical Network Terminal.

ONU

Optical Network Unit - a general term for a specialised piece of network equipment that terminates a single dark fibre and is located at the End User premises.

PABX

Private Automatic Branch Exchange – a business phone system.

P-bit

Priority bit(s) - a data traffic priority value between 0 and 7 set in the 3-bit tag field of the C-VLAN-ID and/or S-VLAN-ID fields (both of these fields can carry P-bit values).

POI

Point of Interconnect.

PPP

Point to Point Protocol is a computer network protocol used to transfer a datagram between two directly connected (point-to-point) computers.

RG

Residential Gateway - a mass produced piece of network equipment (often referred to as "the customer's modem") which sits in the home or office, connects to the Layer 2 Service on one side, and to the End User's equipment (PCs, telephones, etc) on the other.

SDN

Subscriber Identity Module – commonly known as a SIM card that contains a microchip that stores data that identifies the user, for use in GSM and compatible 3G mobile phones.

SIM

Subscriber Identity Module – commonly known as a SIM card that contains a microchip that stores data that identifies the user, for use in GSM and compatible 3G mobile phones.

SMS

Short Message Service – commonly known as a text messaging, is a service for sending short messages between mobile devices.

SOHO

Small Office/Home Office.

STD

Standard Terms Determination – the terms on which a designated access or specified service must be supplied by access providers to all access seekers 53 requesting the service.

TSO

Telecommunications service obligations – an obligation to supply certain telecommunications services to groups of end-users who may not otherwise be supplied on a commercial basis or at a price that is considered to be affordable.

UBA

Unbundled Bitstream Access – a regulated service giving wholesale access to Telecom’s DSL full speed broadband service although a commercial variant with a slower speed is also available.

UBS

Unbundled Bitstream Service – a service no longer regulated that gives wholesale access to Telecom’s DSL broadband service. When regulated, the service had its upstream speed limited to 128 kbps.

UCLL

Unbundled Copper Local Loop – wholesale access to the copper line connecting a phone user to the local exchange.

UFB

Ultra-Fast Broadband – a broadband service which delivers speeds in excess of 25 Mbps.“For the purposes of the NZ Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, having access to UFB is taken to mean the availability of broadband services at a minimum speed of 100 Mbps Downstream (from the Internet to the user) and a minimum of 50 Mbps Upstream (from user to the Internet). Source: Crown Fibre website.

UMTS

Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) – the 3G successor to the 2G GSM standard. The most common form of UMTS uses WCDMA as the underlying air interface.

UNI

User-Network Interface.

Upstream

Data transfer from the user to the Internet, also known as "upload".

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol – a way of sending voice calls over a data connection like a broadband connection.

WAN

Wide Area Network - a computer network covering a broad area, typically crossing metropolitan, regional, or even national boundaries.

WCDMA

Wideband Code Division Multiple Access – a third generation mobile phone standard often provided as a progression from the GSM standard.

Fulcrum CATS Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) at a Leading Wireless Provider / Telecom

A customer with several billions of dollars in assets within their operations decided to implement
the Fulcrum’s CATS solution. As a result, this customer estimated that they achieved (using conservative assumptions) between 3% and 5% savings in spares recovery following their CATS implementation – which equated to savings over $60 million in the first year.  www.Fulcrum.net