The network is mission-critical. Telecom operators across the world have risen to the challenge of increased network demand, as recent events have abruptly led to mass-adoption of remote work, permanently changing the way we perceive our digital environments and this has certainly strained fibre networks. Network service activation and operation are becoming ever more complex, spanning many diverse technologies from wireline to wireless.
Delivering and maintaining high-quality network service requires reliable fault detection processes and continuous improvement. Affirming these challenges, technicians must learn various complex tasks, to be effective and make field operations faster and efficient, at the same time reduce their time in the field as they deploy, maintain and optimize networks. Finding the right expertise, tools and management solutions is the key and one solution is greater use of test process automation (TPA) to replace manual and error-prone processes, enabling field technicians of all skill levels to address today’s challenges. By improving test process efficiency, technician can easily address network issues, leading to effective troubleshooting and faster deployment.
Test Process Automation accelerates test workflow and yields network insights
Test process automation (TPA) is designed to optimize technician workflows. Each step of the process is automated to ensure that proper test sequence is executed, resulting in consistent service delivery. Augmented process automation enables efficiency of field operations, while assuring that critical tests and documentation tasks are completed to ensure high-quality network operations. Test Process Automation initiative help customers transform their workflow with a new process to:
- Reduce manual test processes and data entry – minimizing human error and increasing the scale of network deployment.
- Consistently execute testing processes, delivering quality results every time.
- Provide objective evidence of proper job completion with a closed-loop test process.
- Reduce training needs with easy to use instruments featuring clear, simple pass and fail indicators, and guided test processes with the availability of remote expert help.
- Speed revenue cycles with real-time results and automatic report generation.
As test processes and workflows are defined centrally and pushed to test instruments, manual procedures can be reduced or eliminated. This ensures that results are consistent, repeatable and compliant with the execution of specific tests, test thresholds, test order and correct network locations. Process automation also streamlines training by shifting the focus to the test process itself, as opposed to emphasizing technical training that can easily overwhelm technicians.
Test process automation delivers actionable insights and problem resolution that yields accurate diagnosis of network issues. This enables communication service providers to consistently improve network design. Here, it’s important to leverage open software interfaces to ensure that test process creation and results reporting are compatible across network management systems and field mobile applications.
Accuracy of service activation
Right service activation is key to an operator’s overall profitability, often saving up to 30-45 percent of operational expenditures. Yet different technologies require specific test processes, and service activation inefficiencies can arise when testing is not consistent. The solution to this testing problem requires an automated service activation test process. In order to successfully automate service activation testing, best practices include a centralized management server to create workflow jobs made up of customized service activation tests. Workflow jobs should be pushed to the test instrument, and individual test reports should include site pictures and equipment connections. Test reports can be uploaded to the management server to streamline activation and acceptance.
It is essential to note that that the service activation workflow is simple, so that technicians can easily follow regardless of their skill levels, while create & deploy test procedures quickly and with consistency. A job manager should provide a common guided test process for each job, while coordinating tasks & results across instruments and deliver quick automated reporting on field test results. Mobile applications enrich instrument test results and play a key role in today’s testing processes, enabling technicians to multitask and control test instruments remotely. This is vital for technicians who run several tests concurrently or those who are working in harsh conditions.
Test process automation advances test workflow and network insights. By incorporating test process automation, communication service providers can accelerate and optimize their testing capabilities; to develop automated test solutions that help, launch and maintain their networks with ease, saves time and compress operational expense of workforce, while boosting customer retention & acquisition.
About the author:
Koji Okamoto is Vice President and General Manager of Fiber and Access Business for VIAVI Solutions. He has extensive experience in fiber and cable networks including product strategy, business plan development and R&D execution. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management.