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Contributed by: Emily James, Mapcom

From poor data visibility to technician task complexities, communicating information quickly to the right decision maker is a challenge for many network operators.  Complexity increases as networks grow and evolve, and network inventory awareness – the foundation of network operations – is rarely up to date.

Without the proper tools in place, service assurance remains reactive, and providers can lose valuable time trying to identify the source of an outage, which customers the outage affects, and coordinating resources to repair and restore service.  Data is lost in translation across the central office, CSRs, engineers, and the NOC. This leaves teams scrambling to get all the necessary information, delaying the return of service and disgruntling customers in the process.

Different data may be trapped in different systems, when it should be securely accessible from anywhere.  Manually entered data must be audited before it can be trusted.   Data from inside plant and outside plant, from various vendors, and from varied technologies are trapped in separate systems.  It’s no wonder that sixty-two percent of telecom executives surveyed believe their network operations could be more efficient.

Luckily, technology has come a long way in solving this problem. Today’s interoperable tools can auto-discover the network, share information via powerful Application Programming Interfaces (API), and present information with intuitive Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) to provide the right intelligence to the right people at the right time.  By deploying and linking applications such as Mapcom’s M4® Solutions and LightRiver’s netFLEX® platform, network operators can gain the efficiencies that come from eliminating data inaccuracy, data silos, and reactive management.

About Mapcom and M4® Solutions

Mapcom’s M4® Solutions suite provides best-in-class tools for managing outside plant records and modeling physical connectivity in a visual, GIS-based interface. M4’s open-system approach allows communication service providers to integrate and correlate their plant and equipment records with data from existing business-critical applications like billing, accounting, or network monitoring tools. By eliminating data silos and streamlining workflows, M4 empowers the whole business – from engineering to customer service – to leverage information to work more efficiently and effectively.

About LightRiver and netFLEX ®

LightRiver architects, designs, deploys, manages and automates some of the largest most complex transport/optical networks on the planet. LightRiver deployments include the largest Tier 1 Wireless Service Providers, Wireline Service Providers, Data Center/Exchange Providers, and enterprises across North America and worldwide. LightRiver’s netFLEX® delivers end-to-end network automation for transport—from traditional legacy technologies all the way to the next gen, packet-edge technologies. The netFLEX platform provides comprehensive transport network automation, enabling uniform network management and automation that can be leveraged within a network operator or extended to partners and customers.  That includes auto-discovered inventory, actionable analytics, and control automation, across the industry’s core technology platforms.

 Using M4® and netFLEX® together

When M4® is combined with LightRiver’s netFLEX®, communication service providers can extend their understanding of network performance by bridging the gap between the network’s physical and logical layers. By correlating netFLEX-generated data back to the patch panel – and eventually outside plant and the customers served by it – providers can create a digital visualization of a fully-functioning fiber network. Central office and engineering staff can leverage this model to identify the root cause of troubles and respond to network incidents more quickly. Network planning staff can work with an accurate knowledge of network inventory and capacity availability.  Fulfillment teams, even sales teams, can be confident in making, and meeting, customer commitments.

The results

Customers will surely benefit from a shorter mean time to repair (MTTR), but they aren’t the only winners. Response teams will feel less stressed when they can quickly determine what’s wrong, and quickly prioritize and mobilize to fix it. While the restoration plan is underway, CSRs can use a report of affected customers to send proactive notifications about the service interruption to improve customer relationships. Not only is service assurance improved, but service delivery speed and accuracy are improved too, delivering more efficient network operations at scale, and dramatically improving the customer experience.  And because teams are armed with complete visibility and control of the network, the C-Suite won’t fret over the bottom line, knowing that SLAs will be upheld, and customers are satisfied.

To learn more about netFLEX, visit the LightRiver netFLEX page (https://netflex.lightriver.com).

To learn more about M4, visit the Mapcom Systems page (https://www.mapcom.com).

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