Incognito Blog

Your source for opinion and insight on network management trends and subscriber experience optimization.

Zero-Touch Provisioning… Really?

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Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) — whatever does that mean?

Of course, it is another marketing term. I think the term “closer to zero touch provisioning” is probably a better term but CTZTP, as opposed to ZTP, is a bit more of a mouthful.

Whenever I hear terms that I’m not familiar with, I get struck by a bolt of curiosity. What is this new and shiny term that has just appeared as if from nowhere?

Zero means zero, right? So by zero-touch provisioning, I was expecting to be dazzled. Services could be delivered to the customer without anyone having to put their hands near anything. How was this going to be done? Had someone invented a system run by robots and mind-control? Did we just need to think about what we wanted and it would get done?

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Some touches were required. Whole networks needed to be in place and this was going to require some physical touches. Already we are way above zero.

Ok, so ZTP is probably based on the assumption that the infrastructure is in place. Is there a case to be made for zero touches? I’m still not seeing it. Someone still needs to take the customer order. If it is a new customer, then usually someone needs to go onsite. The service still needs to be checked to ensure it meets the standards required; at a minimum the customer needs to access the internet, see a TV channel, or get a dial-tone.

For the sake of getting to our goal of zero touches, we can possibly make that process better. How about we just ship the required devices to the customer? Make it so that the customer just needs to plug-in, turn on, and connect to the network. Ok, so this is not quite zero-touch, as the customer needs to do something, but it is zero touches for us. Now we don’t need to send someone onsite. That helps a lot. Not only do we save on labour costs but the customer becomes a shade more technical.

But what if there’s a problem? Now the customer has plugged everything in and they’re not getting service. So much for the great plan of just shipping the device out to the customer. Well, actually, this is where we can get really creative.

Nowadays, we can generally determine if and when a device is connected. Once we know the device is connected, we can then ensure that the service is good quality, e.g. using TR-069,  SNMP, IPDR, and so on.

Before we can do this though, we need to map a device to a customer order. In other words, even if a device comes online, how do I know that this device is sitting in the right customer’s premise? There are ways to deal with this, for example:

  1. Log the device that is sent to the customer address prior to delivery
  2. Once the device is plugged in, use a walled garden to discover the device information and map that back to the customer. Once the customer tries to access the Internet, they will be redirected to a walled garden. This redirection captures the device information, thereby registering the device.

In both cases above, once the device is properly associated with the customer and is online services will be set up and the service assurance workflows will be triggered. Decreasing the touches generally means increasing the automation. As we get closer and closer to zero touches, the automation increases and gets more complex.

I’m sure you’re also seeing other options here. NFV and SDN can contribute greatly to this. In my mind’s eye, “zero touch” is a bit like that exponential decay curve that will forever go towards zero but never quite reach it. So even though it will probably never be literally “zero touch”, I get the idea. The more we can remove “touches” from the process, the easier it will be to deploy new devices and make the whole provisioning cycle so much easier.

Download our white paper to learn more about getting as close as possible to zero-touch provisioning.

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What’s En Route for 2017?

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The first fiscal quarter is a crucial time for any business executive. This is the time when meetings are held and strategies are set into motion, helping to shape the trends of the year ahead.

As the telecom industry continues to speed past an exhilarating 2016, it’s time to look at the new year. Here are my top three predictions for 2017:

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Broadband Service Trends – A Year In Review

Signpost showing year 2016 and 2017

2016 has been a dynamic year for network service providers. We’ve compiled a number of articles regarding the current state and future outlook of broadband service innovation. Let us know what you think of 2016 and what you are thinking about for service innovation in 2017.

Learn more about how Active Broadband can enable service innovation with policy and charging control at http://www.incognito.com/products/active-broadband/.

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Are Lawful Intercept Requests Keeping You Up at Night?

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It’s a familiar scenario that every service provider is likely to face: legal authorities request IP usage records and information about the subscribers associated with those IPs to fulfil lawful intercept or copyright infringement violations. Given the sensitive nature of these requests, it is vital that the information you provide is completely accurate. Can you make that guarantee?

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Prepaid Services — Increasing Revenue and Improving QoS without Inflating CAPEX

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Like any good business, communication service providers (CSPs) are constantly searching for new ways to increase average revenue per user (ARPU). For a long time this was achieved by offering new service options such as IPTV or mobile subscriptions, which could be packaged into an Internet services contract to increase monthly charges. The challenge with this method of back-to-base is that at a certain point subscribers are going to turn down service enhancements that either aren’t affordable, or they may decide they don’t need anything beyond triple-play and become a static source of revenue. In addition, the trend towards all-IP services has resulted in long-time subscribers dropping traditional video and phone subscriptions in favour mobile data and over-the-top (OTT) content.

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Successful Projects: What’s Your S.E.C.R.E.T?

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Getting projects done on-time and accurately can be a minefield of trouble. With all the good intention in the world, projects can still go south quickly.

Why should this be so? Why do projects fail? A lot of the reasons can be traced back to the team relationships. Why do people get upset during projects? Why do relationships degrade? Why are attitudes called into questioned?

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Improve CSR Performance Through Gamification

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This blog was co-authored with Maik Hassel, Product Manager at Incognito

What are your biggest support costs? For most service providers, maintaining high quality support through a call center can be difficult — and expensive. Although the purpose of a customer service representative (CSR) is to provide assistance to subscribers, containing costs is one of the major goals at most call centers.

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Capacity Planning Survey: Are Your Numbers Accurate?

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Better management of network congestion and accurate capacity planning is crucial for keeping your customers’ happy, but inaccurate data and manual processes are slowing down organizational decisions for network capacity upgrades.

While voice, video, and Internet bandwidth usage continues to skyrocket, accurate capacity planning for broadband networks has become a vital topic in the industry.

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