Case study: Ensuring quality in network deployment

We analyze how telecommunications providers perform quality controls in the construction of their telecommunications networks

In order to ensure quality in the construction and deployment of the various elements that comprise the telecommunications network (in terms of the equipment as well as the installations for technical settings and public works), telecommunications providers define their own control processes that cover all the phases of the project: design, construction, infrastructure adaptation, equipment installation, integration, and start-up.

The final goal is to improve the quality of the construction, reduce incidents and their duration, and minimize the impact on customers.

This quality control is based on a method that consists of performing audits on the equipment and the infrastructures (on a technical and document level) in the different phases that comprise the deployment process (e.g., design, construction, and integration). At each milestone—RFI (ready for installation), RFA (ready for acceptance), RFS (ready for service)—the necessary controls and audits are performed in order to ensure quality at the end of each phase.

 

Grafic

Some examples of audits performed on the layers (fixed/mobile access, CS/PS Core, IP Core, transport, etc.) of network construction projects are:

  • RFI:
    • RFI-technical design: Adapting the design to the technical rules that have been defined.
    • RFI-inventory: Correcting the design inventory. This consists of documenting all the new elements that are within the scope of each project, including physical elements (equipment, cards, antennas, etc.) as well as their connections to the telecommunications provider’s systems.
  • RFS:
    • RFS-implementation: Correcting the inventory of the implementation (start-up).
    • RFS-managers: Correcting the implementation in the managers (applications used to manage and operate each piece of equipment that is installed).

Several indicators (KPIs) are used to measure quality based on the audits that are performed and the issues that are identified

If faults or defects are identified during an audit, the corresponding issues are opened and entered into a tool that manages the quality assurance process so they may be corrected by the company that has executed the project (vendor). Once the vendor has indicated in the tool that the issue is resolved, the auditor must confirm that this is in fact the case, and if not, the issue is resubmitted.

A series of critical levels are defined for the issues and assigned accordingly, and in accordance with each one, certain SLAs (service level agreements) for resolving issues are defined, which the company responsible for the work must fulfill. These service level agreements, which are defined in a contract, include the corresponding penalties in the event that the defined levels are not met.

On the other hand, several indicators (KPIs) are used to measure quality based on the audits that are performed and the issues that are identified. As part of the service, the telecommunications provider receives a monthly report showing the changes over time in the status and the results of audits, with a view of the last three quarters and the last three months, showing what issues occur most frequently and an analysis of their resolution time. In addition, an analysis of the current situation and the proposed actions that we have identified for improvement are also provided.

In summary, implementing this assurance model has a series of benefits, such as:

  • It gives visibility to the status and the quality of the construction process for each of the layers and the companies responsible for the work.
  • It allows identifying deficiencies and implementing actions aimed at improving quality.
  • It optimizes costs and time by making it possible to identify and correct issues before the entire construction process has been completed.
  • It improves the quality of the information in network inventory systems, resulting in better management from the operation and maintenance areas in the event of problems or incidents.
  • It allows calculating indicators and quality metrics that can be used in the contracts established with partner companies (to calculate withholdings or penalties).

Óscar Araujo
oscar.araujo@nae.es

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Nae works with telecom operators, large companies and public administrations to anticipate the challenges of market growth and transformation, improving their business strategy and operational efficiency. The company has offices in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica, and has a team of over 600 professionals.