No matter where one looks in the world the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is in the midst of being retired as fixed, mobile and converged networks transform to next generation all-IP ones. And, while these migrations are taking place at varying speeds, realities are that the legacy TDM PSTN has outlived its utility in our digital world, making this an issue of when and not if.
That said, however, getting from PSTN to the virtualized, agile, programmable, scalable and more cost-efficient network of the future is, in a word, “complicated.” Indeed, the migration needs to be done carefully, with a holistic approach if optimal results are to be achieved with minimal pain and time spent on the transition.
A recent Insight article from Dariusz Bakula, Senior Business Consultant and Product Line Manager, Migration Services and Eddy Vergauwen Marketing Manager – Fixed Networks, Nokia (News - Alert), aptly titled, Go holistic to succeed with PSTN migration, speaks directly to this need to consider not just “E”verything but people and process as well.
The authors start by pointing out that: “The potential benefits of PSTN migration hold considerable appeal. By moving PSTN services and subscribers to next-generation IP networks, a service provider can:
- Lower OPEX (News - Alert) by up to 50% by reducing power, space, and maintenance requirements
- Create cost-saving efficiencies by aligning PSTN migration and broadband evolution initiatives
- Create opportunities to upsell additional services
They add that, “Migration from the public switched telephone network isn’t a business-as-usual undertaking. It brings more risk, scale, complexity, and variables than providers have to handle in their regular operations. And its impact is broad. PSTN migration touches most key aspects of a service provider’s business, including customers, services, competitive positioning, and operations.”
They go on to explain 4 key challenges service providers must face in running a successful PSTN migration project:
- Find skilled workers
- Maintain forward progress
- Manage stakeholders
- Control execution
And, keeping with the fact that this is complicated, they emphasize that PSTN migration is a unique balancing act that must consider day-to-day requirements, stakeholder expectations, business objectives, and human and technology resource usage. In short, a well-planned and holistic approach is a necessity, and the level of preparedness of service providers to get out of their comfort zones to do what it takes can be problematic. This is very serious business, and as such it requires C-level champions and a dedication to meeting milestones.
Four critical pieces to make PSTN migration a success
Without going into the details, Bakula and Vergauwen say there are four basic ingredients for successfully getting from here to there in a holistic manner. They are:
- The right plan—while somewhat obvious, the right plan needs to include: a comprehensive strategy, present mode of operations (PMO) assessment, future mode of operations (FMO) evaluation, and the determination of how to go from PMO to FMO.
- The right capabilities—making sure the organization has the right people with the right skills. This enables identification of what can be done internally and what should be done by a trusted partner.
- The right approach to execution—again a matter of who can do what best. The authors call this execution on an industrial scale, moving from horizontal, one-task-at-a-time execution to vertical execution which allows for parallel efforts. They identify the following requirements:
- Management and migration operations: A dedicated migration team with expertise in technology, logistics, and project management can ensure industrialized, vertically aligned execution.
- Workload and workforce management: Specialized tools can streamline resource and task management, helping to keep the migration project on target and on budget.
- Data validation, translation, and provisioning: Tools designed for mass data migration can help service providers handle diverse or disparate data faster and more accurately.
- Field operations: Purpose-built verification, testing, and cutover tools can help field technicians work with more speed and quality. Tools that automate processes can eliminate manual tasks and costly human errors.
- The right partner—assuring that industrialized execution capabilities are in the hands of a partner with a history, people and tools for getting the job done optimally the first time.
Lastly, the authors note that an important part of migration of the PSTN is not throwing out the baby with the bath water. There is value to be “unlocked” in the successful migration of popular legacy services, and a properly conceived and executed migration is one that pays close attention to assuring there is no disruption of revenue streams from existing services that causes customer consternation so the foundation exists for minimizing churn and creating a positive environment for upselling.
Yes, PSTN migration is a major challenge, but, as the authors highlight, just because it is complicated does not mean that the journey has to be painful. In fact, it can be a win for both the service providers and their customers.
Edited by Alicia Young