TELECOM RELEASES INDEPENDENT XT REVIEW FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

7 May 2010

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Telecom New Zealand has today released the key findings and recommendations from Analysys Mason’s independent review of the XT mobile network.

Analysys Mason was commissioned by Telecom to conduct an independent review of the design, build and operation of the network as at 29 January 2010.

“The review has been both chastening and heartening at the same time,” said Paul Reynolds, CEO, Telecom New Zealand.  “Clearly some serious errors were made but the report shows that XT is fundamentally sound, that Telecom, and our partner Alcatel Lucent are now on the right track. Significant progress in improving the robustness and reliability of XT has been made.”

The report says that XT’s network architecture aligns with best practice industry standards and forms the platform for high-quality current and future 3G mobile services New Zealand.

But it also says that, despite being within Telecom’s traffic forecasts, the rate of customer acquisition was too fast for the network in the early stages of its deployment. This created a number of compounding issues that contributed to the reliability and performance issues experienced and the partial network outages.

“The fundamental problem was that the network and its operational processes were not able to adapt quickly enough during our ambitious launch programme; we acknowledge this and accept the findings of the report.  Together Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent have already completed an extensive programme of improvements and the network is now performing well.

“Analysys Mason said it supported the steps to improve performance already underway in January, and it has made further recommendations. Telecom and Alcatel Lucent have already substantially delivered these too,” he said.

The report also notes that XT’s handling of 111 calls is aligned to international standards.

 

Analysys Mason findings and recommendations at 29 January, and Telecom’s progress in delivery of the recommendations

 

1.     The network failed because the network and supporting operations were not ready to manage the levels of traffic it experienced

Analysys Mason recommends that capacity planning:

 

AMG Recommendation

Telecom Action since January 2010

Takes a longer-term view with installed network elements being capable to at least manage up to 12 months of traffic capacity

 

Capacity planning and modelling complete, 18 month view created to enable provisioning of capacity ahead of demand. 

 

 

Methods, tools and processes should be improved to include detailed geographic network analysis as well as improved market analysis

A review has been commenced to investigate current tools and recommendations for improved integration of new tools

 

2. Software issues contributed to network instability

Analysys Mason recommends that:

 

AMG Recommendation

Telecom Action since January 2010

Until the XT network is reliably stable, fully understood and manageable, and operational processes and systems are improved, technical and operational risks are minimised, which includes the slowing down of customer acquisition and migration

 

A number of software upgrades have been completed.

 

All network changes require executive level sign off.

 

Customer migration managed conservatively.

 

Network performance has substantially improved from January and work continues to make it even better

 

3. Although the XT network was designed to initially provide planned coverage that matched the CDMA network the initial configuration of the XT network and, some network build issues, led to coverage variability

Analysys Mason recommends that:

 

AMG Recommendation

Telecom Action since January 2010

An ongoing review of the network performance monitoring and measurement system is undertaken to continually improve the system to allow Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent to proactively manage and continually improve network performance including coverage

 

Improved utilisation of monitoring and measuring tools

 

27 new mobile sites added

 

115 Tower mounted amplifiers added.  Now being added at the rate of 30 a week

 

Ongoing improvement to and definition of a set of measurements to measure the performance and coverage of the network is made

 

Improved measurement of performance at sector and individual site level

Methodology for measuring coverage parity matched to CDMA at individual site level has been defined

In particular, due to the ever-changing characteristics of any 3G network, the performance monitoring system should include regular geographical measurements to allow effective and targeted performance maintenance and improvement activities

 

Network modelling supports design requirement of 97% coverage where New Zealanders live and work

 

Programme of drive testing being introduced to verify coverage footprint

 

 

4. Some aspects of the network architecture are overly complex meaning that any faults are difficult to find and rectify

Analysys Mason recommends that:

 

AMG Recommendation

Telecom Action since January 2010

Telecom continues with its review of the network architecture and security requirements with a five-year planning horizon and migrates to a less complex and more robust network architecture

 

Commenced review of network architecture with a view to removing complexity

Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent considers implementing additional methods to increase network reliability to those already employed in the network

Upgrade to four RNCs complete, total of eight RNCs to be installed by June 2011

Fibre backhaul added to additional 23 sites

 

 

5. Immature operational management systems and process failures contributed to the impact of network issues

Analysys Mason recommends that Telecom:

 

AMG Recommendation

Telecom Action since January 2010

Improves the support systems and processes required to better perform network monitoring and fault analysis and prioritisation

 

Review of ALU operational procedures

New senior management structure in place

Change in culture to allow escalation of concerns

Additional capability and skills from ALU Global product teams

Ensures that the operating model clearly defines processes and areas of responsibility

 

New governance framework established

Improved definition of deliverables and clear accountability for delivery

 

 

- ENDS -

For more information:

Mark Watts, Telecom Media Relations, 027 250 4018

or

Ian Bonnar, Telecom Media Relations, 027 215 7564

 

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