Enhancing standardisation in Network Infrastructure and Operations

Ahead of his keynote speech at this year’s Broadband World Forum, Alain Maloberti, senior vice president of network architecture and design at Orange discusses the company’s drive to gain international economies of scale and consistency of customer experience.

alain malobertiAs a business with operations in over 30 countries we face the challenge of how to achieve consistency in terms of customer experience, process management and the infrastructure on which we deliver our services. It’s an issue that faces many global operators who want to ensure that their offer meets universal standards, no matter where the end customer is located.

We have to deal with different types of borders across our international footprint: geographical, political, technological as well as sociological. These are factors that have influenced how we have structured our business in readiness to achieve our strategy of standardising our network architecture, operations and services.

 

Towards an all-IP infrastructure

This approach impacts on three core areas: standardisation of network design based on an all IP infrastructure; rationalisation of equipment and architecture with a limited number of vendors and achieving uniformity of network management through a small number of strategically positioned NOCs (network operations centres) which we have located across Europe and Africa.

Having control is essential to managing our operations and as such we are planning to run as much as we can from within our organisation; our core network will be managed in-house and we will run and staff our regional NOCs. We are also deploying network monitoring and skills centres at a regional level to ensure that we get consistency.

However, for access networks, we understand that we have to work in partnership with vendors and other operators to achieve economies of scale in these domains. To do so we develop access network sharing and outsourcing of access network operation.

A blueprint for consistency

It will take time to get all countries to the same stage, years in some instances as we are dealing with a great deal of legacy architecture; our aim is to have this stripped out between now and 2020. We also have to deal with converging our operations to make everyone work together, along the same process and with the aim of emulating the best of our work across all of our countries. We are sharing network design and creating a blueprint that means consistency of the architecture as well as the equipment that we use to build and operate it.

The path to achieving consistency will be different for each territory on our roll-out plan, and we are currently undertaking a country by country review to assess the technological state of each network and plan the transition to an all IP structure. In addition, there may be the need for acquisition or partnerships with other network operators, especially with regard to realising fixed-mobile convergence, as illustrated by the recent offer we made in Spain for Jazztel.

We have been ahead of the game in recognising that fixed-mobile convergence is the future, but the reality is that some countries simply don’t have a fixed network and this is where we have to look at other options, such as leveraging LTE or finding partners. And there can be different partnership models, from unbundling to a kind of fixed VNO.

Standardisation for better customer experience

Standardisation between fixed operators is something that we would like to see more of and we’ll be looking to explore this during this year’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this October. We have great technical harmonisation between mobile operators and this has really helped the industry develop and drive the costs down, but we don’t see this so much in the fixed line sector. We have to work on joining the dots as this can only bring better experiences for the end customer. For example, when we look at delivering FTTH (fibre-to-the-home), there are a number of organisations and stages involved and we need better collaboration to manage the integration of technology, costs and the services delivered to the end user.

Ultimately we recognise that there will be some regional variations in our offer to end users, however having consistency in terms of the overall network design, build and operations brings massive advantages, both commercially and for our global proposition. Achieving a global standard will ensure that we are using the best of our knowledge and abilities across all of our territories, resulting in building better, more efficient networks and heightened customer experiences.

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