October 30, 2006

3 Min Read
Cable OSS

The advanced IP services MSOs plan to deliver – whether it is IP telephony, tiered data, home networking, or subscription media – cannot scale without tools to efficiently install, provision, and manage network devices, as well as activate and support subscriber services. In short, operations support systems (OSS) software is the oil that keeps the broadband IP infrastructure and services engine running smoothly.

Installation and Account Creation

High-speed Internet access is now the dominant cable IP service offering. During the past five years, MSOs have made significant progress in improving cable modem installations and subscriber service activation. When done manually, the cable modem activation process requires a telephone call from the prospective customer to a cable company service center. However, MSOs are increasingly automating this progress through the use of Web-based tools that allow user self-registration. Additionally, many cable operators offer consumers self-installation options, so they can purchase and connect cable modems themselves.

IP Service Provisioning

During the service provisioning process, services are linked to the subscriber's account, and then instantiated in the network through device provisioning processes. Service provisioning can either be done manually by a MSO CSR or directly by the consumer through a Website. The latter is obviously preferable as it provides a customer self-service option, reducing costs and time to service activation.

For high-speed data access, service options that must be provisioned include the customer's Internet service provider (ISP), service class (defined by access speed or other attributes), email addresses, and personal Web space. A home networking offering adds enhanced data features, such as a managed firewall or virus protection and end-device authentication for a wireless network. Content service provisioning may include enabling access to targeted video, audio, or gaming services. Telephone service provisioning is significantly more complex. In addition to provisioning the underlying data service, telephone lines and numbers must be assigned, along with enhanced services, such as voice mail, caller ID, call forwarding, and more.

To simplify operations, advanced service provisioning solutions allow the creation of workflows and business rules that can be integrated into standard service bundles for data, home networking, content, and voice applications.

IP Device Provisioning

Once services have been selected and assigned to the customer, devices on the network must be provisioned to deliver these services, typically via simple network management protocol (SNMP). For all cable IP services this includes configuring DNS, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP), SYSLOG, and Time of Day (ToD) servers.

High-speed data services also require that Docsis cable modems (CMs), cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), routers, email servers, and Web servers be provisioned. If any Docsis 1.1-based services are involved, this means specifying service identifiers (SIDs), security, and service flow parameters, both at the CMTS and CM.

Home networking requires residential gateway configuration, while content services may affect the CMTS, routers, CM, and residential gateway. Telephony is an order of magnitude more complicated: All of the PacketCable VOIP elements must be provisioned as well as the core Docsis and IP devices.

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