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Solving the telco reliability mystery

South Africa

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By Nnadozie Ogbuehi, Field Services Director at Schneider Electric

The telecommunications industry is intrinsically linked to our daily lives, enabling us to communicate, collaborate, interact, and transact. Telcos cannot afford outages which can quickly turn into a PR nightmare if not resolved swiftly.

With the above in mind, one would imagine that equipment maintenance, service and support enjoy major priority in telcos’ daily operations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and one too many a telco has experienced downtime and the resultant fallout.

The question begs, why would an industry that forms such a vital part of our daily lives experience failure and what can be done to ensure reliability stays top of mind?

The challenge(s)

Unfortunately, some telcos take the break-fix approach and there are no maintenance systems in place to predict and prevent equipment failure. Moreover, break-fixes often take longer to resolve as it is not always apparent where the problem or failure has occurred.

Equipment from reputable OEMs generally have a substantial lifecycle, however, failure to maintain it negatively impacts its functionality and overall operational lifetime. The result, equipment must be prematurely replaced which is not only counterintuitive but also adds to unnecessary OPEX.

The break-fix approach is also exacerbated by unqualified contractors scrambling to repair the equipment. OEMs recommend that equipment should be maintained by certified and dedicated to ensuring reliability and importantly, maximising its full potential.

Also, unqualified contractors might be able to fix the but cause damage due to lack of expertise that will lead to ongoing reliability and functionality issues.

The fix

Fortunately, the above can be rectified, leading to a reliable telco provider that enjoys a strong brand reputation and loyal customers.

For one, a consistent maintenance plan must be put in place that includes preventative, on-site and remote support; the latter is particularly important in hard-to-reach areas and has in our experience been an invaluable tool in rectifying equipment issues without the onsite manpower.

When negotiating with telcos, OEMs and their partners must accentuate the importance of a dedicated maintenance plan which, more than often, can be packaged to meet a customer’s specific requirements.

A fixed 24/7 maintenance contract not only ensures reliability but also realises equipment ROI as lifecycles are extended and for example predictive as opposed to scheduled maintenance saves on unnecessary expenditure.

At Schneider Electric, the safety of people and assets are our main priority which is enabled by proper maintenance driven by advanced practices such as predictive insights.

Telcos can’t fly blindly and hope their equipment will stand the proverbial test of time. Only proper maintenance will realise healthy and reliable equipment enabling telco operational teams to stay one step ahead of any potential failures.

South Africa

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