Passive probe improves optical network monitoring

Jessica Scarpati
03 May 2010
Rolling out wholesale voice over IP (VoIP) services for competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) in the western US proved to be a revenue boon for 360networks, but troubleshooting time-division multiplexing (TDM) to IP translation hiccups remained a challenge. Replacing manual diagnostics with a passive test probe has cut mean time to repair (MTTR) in half and improved optical network monitoring.
"The problem we were trying to solve was one of integrated capture of a call in process that crosses the lines of TDM and IP," said Brady Adams, CTO of the Seattle-based operator of wholesale VoIP and fiber optic network services. "When you're talking TDM to IP, there are different attributes you're looking at for call quality, and during that translation, it can be very difficult to [determine] what [affected] the performance of this call."
When 360networks launched its wholesale VoIP service three years ago across its 20,000-mile fiber-optic network, it sold the service as an easier way for CLECs with older infrastructure to ride the next-generation network train, Adams said. The service caught the eye of very large enterprise customers as well, and the wholesale VoIP service became a "substantial" part of 360's revenue, he said.
But then the problems popped up. All-IP calls did fine, Adams said, but TDM to IP translations often resulted in poor call quality, dropped calls or one-way audio.
It was an optical network monitoring and management nightmare. The tools that technicians and operational support staff had been using still required them to manually capture and analyze call data, Adams said. From diagnosis to resolution, the process took two hours for an average help-desk ticket tracking 10 individual calls.
"It was very manual and very time-intensive," he said. "There are a number of platforms out there, but none of them to date have had the ability to integrate both the TDM and the IP side of the call into a process in a very simple fashion -- something that is very easy to [teach to] our NOC personnel, and even our customer base to some extent."


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