Technology and digitization continue to transform huge swathes of the global economy—and how we operate broadband networks is no exception. A prime example of this impact is automation. That’s the ability to harness technologies such as cloud microservices, artificial intelligence/machine learning and workflow engines to automate previously manual tasks. By taking over repetitive tasks that previously required human operation, analytics-driven automation has the potential to boost productivity and drive economic growth. Research from McKinsey estimates that automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 percentage points to 1.4 percent annually. Their study further indicates that around half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055.
But what does this mean for broadband operations teams? Embracing automation does not mean the network will run on autopilot. Human oversight and expertise will always be required. But automation can be used to replace many of the repetitive functions that keep operations teams busy today. It will make teams work smarter and faster. It will ease pressure on stressed workforces, limit instances of human error, and free up personnel to focus on more strategic tasks. Getting it right can deliver a dynamic and highly efficient workforce—and drive significant reductions in OPEX.
The latest broadband technologies allow teams to automate network functions in various ways, enabling:
Broadband service providers (BSPs) deploying Calix platforms and cloud tools today are already taking advantage of these breakthrough innovations—and their operations teams are reaping the benefits. They are no longer required to react to every network problem and “swivel chair” between different screens and systems. Instead, the Calix solution allows teams to focus on meeting the operational targets that matter: fewer truck rolls, improved service uptime, and lower costs. Sterling LAMB, winner of the 2022 Calix “Giant of Operations” award, showcases the power of automation—they’ve been able to slash service provisioning time by more than two-thirds.
But running lean and agile operations is only the start. By embracing automation, operations teams have an opportunity to impact the subscriber experience directly and positively. It will make network behavior more predictable and service interruptions less likely—and subscribers will benefit as a result.
In this latest issue of the Broadband Operations Beacon, we will look at some of the ways automation can transform the way you run and maintain your network. This includes how innovative BSPs are transforming their operations using cloud-based tools and how to automate regulatory speed testing.
Bill Underhill, Network Coordinator, Sterling LAMB
We have a long record of innovation, going back to 1910 when Sterling Municipal Light Department (SMLD) began as the electric utility in our small central-Massachusetts community. We’ve taken this to the next level with Sterling Local Area Municipal Broadband (LAMB).
Jessica Koch, Broadband Program Manager, Calix
Broadband service providers (BSPs) in rural areas across the U.S. have been able to take advantage of a plethora of federal funding programs in recent years. Taken together, these programs total around $100 billion in funding.
Lyle Ungar, Professor of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania
Automation can massively improve customer experience. Think about when you set up a new iPhone. In the old days, you had to go to a store and a customer representative had to physically set up your phone. Let’s not forget the valid fear that all your contacts might be lost in the transfer.
Alan Marks, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Calix
Operations teams are used to being asked to do more with less. They are under pressure to reduce costs and dispatch fewer trucks, while at the same time supporting ever more complex services and increasing subscriber demands. This is why automation can be transformative.