Friday, 1 May 2009

NBI in the Telecommunication Industry

Data in the telecommunications industry has now evolved into various forms, with fixed, mobile and broadband services constantly and simultaneously feeding them out to perpetually data-hungry users. To cope, operators are slowly turning to more long-term solutions like Network Business Intelligence (NBI) to deal with traffic problems that make New York City streets during rush hour look like a stroll in the park.

The telecommunications industry has never before seen an overwhelming influx of services and demand for QoS (Quality of Service) as it does today. And with the emergence of various networks such as 2G, 3G, 2.5G, and HSDPA, the rapidly increasing number of users, and the various types of data, audio, video and text, it seems that the end is nowhere in sight.

In the past, the solution to a surge in data traffic was simply to increase the bandwidth. Recently however, telecom operators have realized that doing so has slowly become nothing more than a band-aid solution. They spend a lot of money setting up the necessary infrastructure to double or triple the bandwidth, in some cases even more, only to find out that the demand easily catches up.

Let's go back to the city traffic analogy. When a city grows, so does the traffic. However, despite bumper-to-bumper conditions, city administrators don't automatically conduct road-widening operations. Knowing that such conditions don't happen round the clock nor do they happen in all streets at the same time, they implement traffic management schemes. Re-routing, one-way streets, and scheduling are some of the common strategies.

Network Business Intelligence (NBI) is similar to those traffic management schemes. Operators who implement NBI have this as one of their primary objectives: to maintain uptime in all services simultaneously. There's nothing more irritating to any customer than not being able to use a particular service. With NBI, it would be possible to reduce the bandwidth of certain services to accommodate another. Reduced speed and capacity is not as serious an issue as total unavailability.

Network Business Intelligence is not without its own complexities. New software will have to be installed and people will have to be trained. These too will have certain effects on a company's ROI. NBI is not much about generating new revenue as it is on saving on costs. But with the current economic environment, not many people will disagree that the latter would be the more prudent option.

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