The Exposed Head End: Enabling A Strategically Defensible Posture For Broadband Telecommunications Services (1999)

By Terry L. Wright, Chief Technology Officer, Corporation

This paper discusses critical service monitoring/management challenges several MSOs are already facing, and many others are certain to encounter within the next several years. If and/or when the FCC imposes service-transport unbundling regulations on the cable industry, these challenges will immediately become industry-wide. Even absent unbundling regulations, as cable operators increase advanced telecommunications service offerings, they will eventually need to overcome these issues.

The basic services monitoring and management challenges are rooted in the shared nature of broadband delivery networks, and the lack of thorough operational information integration among back-office graphical information (GIS) and billing systems. Shared network oriented issues are further aggravated by the finite nature of bandwidth capacity allocated for advanced broadband service delivery.

In a broadband digital services environment where services are concurrently delivered, especially when external service providers are involved, asset control and service integrity (i.e., stability and consistency) complications are introduced. These challenges impose the need for an integrated services monitoring/management system (ISMS). Such a system must, among other critical functions, enable operators to maintain control over their broadband infrastructure in order to ensure the integrity of concurrently delivered services.

If the notion of an ISMS as a basic requirement does not make you uneasy, then it is likely you do not fully grasp the problems an ISMS must solve. As this paper title suggests, implementing an ISMS involves a virtual exposure of key components of the shared broadband service delivery infrastructure, as well as a dynamic proxy representation of those components. In addition, an ISMS must have dynamic access to (often-disparate) back office system databases in order to ensure service reliability and consistency. This paper explores the details of the integrated services management problem. Ideally, readers will gain sufficient insight and understanding as to why an ISMS may need to be the cornerstone of any future advanced broadband services capability.

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