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AI/Automation

Frinx scores automation breakthrough at VodafoneZiggo

Frinx, a startup focused on automating customer provisioning and other network services, has landed its first big telecom deal in Europe, notching an agreement with VodafoneZiggo to support its business services delivered on fiber and hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks.

Frinx, a Slovakia-based company founded in 2016, began as a pure open source services company with expertise in OpenDaylight and later branched out with capabilities that could be layered on top of its open source packages. The work has resulted in FrinxMachine, a platform that includes a controller, workflow system and resource manager.

(Source: photo_gonzo/Alamy Stock Photo)
(Source: photo_gonzo/Alamy Stock Photo)

The focus with VodafoneZiggo is to enable a so-called "zero-touch" provisioning of business services delivered on multiple technologies and access network types. Frinx estimates that it has been able to whittle down service activation times from two hours to five minutes while also enabling VodafoneZiggo to accelerate the cadence of those activations during maintenance windows.

Likewise, the system gives the operator some freedom to assign people to other tasks. "It definitely allows them to have more optimized use of their human resources using this zero-touch provisioning automation," said Daniel Etman, VP of business development at Frinx.

Focus on open source

Frinx CEO Gerhard Wieser said that the company's focus on open source and the avoidance of proprietary vendor lock-in also played a big role in its selection by VodafoneZiggo. Frinx has been building an open source library for the configuration of various generations of devices. The library has been growing as the company, developers and customers add new devices to the mix. It also includes a wide array of device drivers, or what Frinx calls "translation units."

This gives Frinx a unified view of how device configurations should look and helps the company understand what code-level, "atomic changes" need to occur to get a device updated to the proper state of configuration, said Wieser, who is a former Cisco Systems exec.

"That's important if you have 20,000 lines of config on the device. You want to know exactly what you need to change, or be certain that a certain line in the code needs to change," he said. "But we don't automate a device; we automate an end-to-end service" that extends to elements such as billing servers and customer relationship management servers, he added.

Managing DOCSIS licenses

The automation platform can also support other use cases, according to Frinx. These use cases include the management of DOCSIS licenses for cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), which can be lit up as needed when cable operators have to tack on capacity.

The idea is to help operators monitor data usage on specific service groups to determine which ones require the purchase of additional DOCSIS licenses. Rather than taking a template approach to licenses for a given area, Frinx believes that it can help operators be more efficient with their capex budgets by using an automated process that tells them where to apply (or pull back) those licenses.

Etman said that's important because managing DOCSIS licenses is a complex planning challenge when an operator is keeping watch and trying to stay ahead of data utilization on thousands of service groups.

VodafoneZiggo, a joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global, is Frinx's marquee telecom customer in Europe. The software provider is also working with other well-known names such as Facebook Connectivity, SoftBank and China Telecom.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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