Implementation of a Seamless Network Inventory at Poland’s TK Telekom
Dynamic growth of the present-day telecommunications market makes operators keep looking for new and creative ways to beat increasing competition. The times when that competitive struggle was won by an operator with the largest network are gone for good. What counts today is efficient network management and fast launch of new services rather than having kilometers of cables and hundreds of staff. The battle is not won by those who possess the most but by those who know how to manage their infrastructure more effectively. Thanks to a network inventory system, today TK Telekom (Warsaw, Poland) is able to efficiently manage one of the largest telecommunications networks in Poland.
TK Telekom is a dynamically developing telecommunications operator. The company provides Internet services, telephone services, data transmission, and line lease for telecommunications operators, public administration, and business customers. The network of TK Telekom comprises nearly 30,000 kilometers of lines, making the company one of the major players in Poland’s telecommunications market. More importantly, that network is both modern and safe. More than 90 percent of the company-owned cables are located underground, which minimizes their failure rates. The network size and safety are important factors for the value of a telecommunications operator, but—in the face of huge competition and extremely dynamic growth of new technologies—they do not determine competitive advantage. To confront that competition successfully, TK Telekom has had to set itself two main goals: shorten the time to launch new services, and keep improving customer satisfaction. Efficient network management acts as a necessary tool in attaining these goals. This, however, is not possible without a powerful network inventory system.
Until recently, one had to collect network structure information from various functions to check whether it was possible to provide a given service at a specific location. This required both time and people. Therefore, it became clear that, without a seamless inventory system, one could not think seriously about any process automation, which is key to long-term profitability of any operator. “We needed a system that allows efficient operational level management,” says Grzegorz Brodecki, manager of the Network Resources Inventory Team at TK Telekom. “Without fully understanding the entire network infrastructure, we were unable to think seriously about successful management.”
In 2010, TK Telekom invited tenders, or bids, for the supply of a telecommunications network inventory system. Out of a few providers that submitted bids, the company selected Esri Partner Suntech S.A. of Warsaw, Poland, together with PKP Informatyka, also of Warsaw, Poland. Suntech had the necessary know-how and required experience supported by numerous inventory system implementations at telecommunications operators. What also came as a very important selection criterion was the fact that the system offered by Suntech was based on an Esri-developed GIS platform.
“The client was really determined to have a possibility to transfer data from different environments, availability of advanced GIS tools, openness of the environment, and the related integration possibilities,” says Piotr Saczuk, president of the Suntech Management Board. Suntech was able to satisfy all these expectations thanks to its cooperation with Esri.
The implementation of SunVizion Network Inventory (the Suntech system) was completed in March 2012. The solution is based on ArcGIS for Server and Microsoft SQL Server platforms. SunVizion Network Inventory comprises the following three main modules:
- Resource Inventory (for managing the network physical and logical resources)—This module is responsible for the network resources and collects, processes, and makes available information regarding the telecommunications infrastructure (cables, buildings, manholes, etc.) and its physical usage (e.g., distribution of cards on shelves, amount of manhole space taken up by cables). Thanks to the powerful ArcGIS solution, operators’ network resources are visible against the background of digital vector and raster maps. Additionally, the module facilitates gathering of information about failures and their consequences and allows analysts to manage any failures and identify their geographic location.
- Service Inventory (supporting management of services)—The Service Inventory module allows modeling of new services, modification of service parameters, and checking the availability of a given service in a given location. Quick access to such information distinctly shortens the time of launching new services for clients.
- Logistics Management (responsible for managing warehouse logistics)—The third module, Logistics Management, provides information about where a given network element is situated and what characteristics it has. It also allows an inventory of physical resources and supplies data for periodic reports on the warehouse’s current status (opening balance). Together with the SunVizion Network Inventory system implementation, a pilot inventory of TK Telekom resources from the Lower Silesia voivodship (that is, province)—optical fibers, copper cables, telecom equipment and infrastructure—was also completed in a joint effort with PKP Informatyka.
The Next Step
Under the next step, data from across Poland will be fed into the system.
Thanks to the network mapping under the SunVizion Network Inventory system, TK Telekom will be able to improve its sales and network operation processes. Precise information about the network structure will translate directly into a reduction of the company’s operating costs in a few dimensions. Immediate access to information about the network and its elements will dramatically cut the time needed to register new customers, provide them with access to individual services, and introduce new services. “The new service planning time has decreased a few times thanks to our new network inventory system,” says Brodecki. “At the moment, an employee who plans a service knows exactly what elements are included in the network in a given location; books available resources; plans expansion, if any; and—thanks to the new inventory system—knows how to price a service and can see whether or not that service is going to yield a profit. The whole operation takes a few minutes.”
The inventory system will also allow the company to optimize the management of emergency situations, both in a technical sense and in terms of customer service. Exhaustive information about the cause, extent, and consequences of a failure is very valuable to customers. Equally important is quick failure recovery enabled by the ArcGIS for Server inventory system, which allows fast identification of potential failure locations and implementation of precise remedies. Additionally, Network Inventory will optimize the network development planning process by empowering planners to analyze the factual use of the potential of the present network. The system will largely simplify the process of verification and allocation of telecommunications network resources to individual fixed assets. The system-collected data on equipment failure frequency will also allow sensible planning of the purchasing policy and eliminate purchases of the most failure-prone products.