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The Key Benefits of Integrating Telecom Business Systems with GIS

SSP is pleased to have Brad Hine - Product Manager for GIS & Analytics solutions for ETI Software - to collaborate with us on this blog post.  Brad brings over 8 years of industry experience.  His company, ETI Software Solutions, provides industry leading OSS/BSS systems for some of the worlds largest communications service providers.  In his free time, you can find him rooting for the Chicago Cubs and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Opportunity

It is difficult to find another industry that can take as much advantage of all of the different capabilities that a Geographic Information System (GIS) can offer than Telecommunications.  From performing demographic and economic analysis, to planning new service and device rollouts, to tracking service assurance and incident management scenarios, to documenting physical network assets and their connectivity, all departments within a communications service provider (CSP) can see workflow improvements when adding geospatial capabilities to their business processes.

One area where GIS capabilities can add significant value, but are often overlooked, is taking data from other common Telecom business systems (OSS/BSS, NMS, CRM, etc.) to visualize and perform analysis to improve Sales, Marketing, Planning, Design, and/or Operations at a Telecom.  These business systems usually constitute a system of record for important data within the organization, and when combined with a GIS, can provide new insights not previously available to the business.

In this blog post we'll highlight some of the key use cases these integrations can enable, the benefits the organization has seen, along with how this concept truly represents a system of engagement for a Communications Service Provider.

Subscriber Management

Given the highly competitive nature of the telecommunications business, companies need to do whatever they can to identify new opportunities for growth, while making sure that their existing customer base is pleased with their service.  Tying GIS data into the subscriber, service, and device information housed in a CSP's Business Support System (BSS) opens up the ability to geographically present and analyze:

  • Subscriber types and their locations
  • Services these subscribers are currently using
  • Devices that are tied to individual accounts at these locations
  • Historical service and billing information
  • Subscribers who have been disconnected and exit codes describing why

The benefits of being able to visualize this information geographically can be seen on many levels.  Typically, subscriber data like this comes from multiple systems.  Being able to visualize disparate information like this spatially helps to show service penetration trends and Average Revenue per User (ARPU) to help develop targeted campaigns and predictive subscriber consumption patterns.

Operations

Tying a CSP's GIS network information to an Operational Support System (OSS), Network Management System (NMS), Trouble Ticketing system and/or provisioning system provides the ability to view key operational data such as:

  • Current alarms in the network and their severity
  • Current Service Orders, Work Orders, and subsequent crew locations
  • Customer Premise Equipment and/or ONT device status (example: low battery alarms) for events like service and power outages
  • Historical analysis around network quality of service, repeat incidents, truck roll information and total trouble tickets involving certain equipment in the network

Access to this information in a geographic context allows for better planning, expedient issue resolution and reporting data which reduces service downtime and improves the customer experience.  Visualizing the different states and status of the OSS technology systems in real-time has been successfully deployed with a host of industry leading equipment vendors.

FCC Reporting, Financial and Administrative Needs

Communications Service Providers are constantly fielding requests to provide reporting and data regarding the types and speeds of services they are providing to customers by geographic boundaries.  If the CSP has been utilizing any government grant money to supplement or enhance services, these reporting requirements can be even greater.  Location is the most crucial attribute for most all CSP information.

Combining spatial information and geoprocessing capabilities with the subscriber and service level information housed in OSS/BSS and other critical business systems can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to fulfill these reporting requests.  This also increases the accuracy of the reporting due to the fact that the process can be converted from being manual and paper based to a more automated, software driven approach.

Census boundaries can be used in tandem with subscriber location and service consumption numbers to produce mandatory CSP reporting, such as Form 477 reports.

Integration Architecture OSS Layer

All communications service providers face the issue of efficient service delivery (aka 'provisioning'): turning on and off the services and devices a subscriber has requested, and will be invoiced for.  The job of the OSS is to do this while seamlessly synchronizing the many technologies and management systems all at once, from one central system.  This allows for data to be exposed not only for the subscriber and location.... but releases data to be mined from every system the OSS controls: from asset/inventory to workforce management, billing and invoicing, network alarms and all internet, video and voice technologies as well.  OSS systems can integrate to a wealth of technologies that control and monitor systems such as: Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) access networks, voice switches, Radio Frequency (RF) and Internet Protocol (IP) video, DOCSIS and voicemail systems and CRM/billing systems.  The type of integration chosen will vary depending on the specific technology, vendor and systems involved.

The OSS system, and its integrations, is necessary to merge disparate systems into one, easy-to-use, comprehensive database.  The GIS integration then allows for visualization of all eco-system data, making data that was once seemingly "invisible", available and easy to access for the organization.

The System of Engagement realized

The capabilities and business process evolution outlined in this blog post represent capabilities that can be expected from the Telecom of Tomorrow.  Data from each authoritative system of record, combined with geospatial data and authoritative network information provides data products, analysis and insights not previously available.  With this enhanced information environment, CSPs will be able to more effectively attract new customers, provide them better service, efficiently identify the cause and restoration needs in the event of service interruption, all the while, maintaining historical records for planning and organizational improvement.

This environment embodies the shift from a hierarchical, stove-piped model where each system of record operates in isolation, to one in which systems provide data openly, and users throughout the organization use Web GIS and the platform to create shared information, collaborate, and ultimately provide better products and services to their customers along with realizing internal process improvements.

Conclusion

Combining data stored in traditional communications business sytems with related geospatial network and asset information opens up new possibilities for users throughout the organization to experience improved efficiency and analysis capabilities.  Whether OSS, BSS, NMS, CRM, or another system, geospatially enabling the data housed in these data stores can improve planning and operations which has a direct and positive impact on subscriber satisfaction.

Author Information

  • Brad Hine, Guest Author

    Brad brings over 8 years of industry experience.  His company, ETI Software Solutions, provides industry leading OSS/BSS systems for some of the worlds largest communications service providers.  In his free time, you can find him rooting for the Chicago Cubs and the Georgia Bulldogs.

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  • Ryan Potts

    Ryan Potts

    Ryan Potts works as a Senior Consultant for the Utility and Telecommunications consulting company SSP Innovations, headquartered in Centennial, Colorado.  Ryan has over 11 years of Experience in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), more than 6 of these specializing in Product Sales, Management, and Development of GIS capabilities to support fiber optic, fiber to the home (FTTH), hybrid fiber coax (HFC) and other communications networks.

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