July 12, 2016

What is the best way to manage quality in today’s interconnect voice market?

Great question. I love this question. As we all know, interconnect voice is a commodity.  That means low differentiation in terms of quality or value but, we also know that voice is a little different commodity than say, pork bellies or frozen concentrated orange juice. It’s an intangible good. It’s a best effort delivery model. By and large there are no guarantees for capacity in the open market, though bi-lats and peering agreements attempt to add some guarantee.  Best effort is not usually an operational practice that companies can live with, particularly engineering driven companies which many communication providers are or closely resemble. Best Effort doesn’t lead to consistent quality, so carriers devote significant engineering staff to managing and delivering sustainable quality, but, when you look across the interconnect voice industry and how much cost carriers incur in pursuit of quality you realize they are spending a fortune and not getting much in return.

Of course that leads you to ask the question, “why”?  Well,  it’s because, in the interconnect space, carriers spend way too much of their time and resources on trouble shooting their supplier’s network. Wait... what? Think about it. Your customer opens a trouble ticket, your NOC looks at the problem, and recognizes that it wasn’t on their network, but on the suppliers network. The NOC then opens a trouble ticket with the supplier and, in many instances, removes the supplier from routing for that destination. The supplier, in turn, responds to being removed from routing and contacts your NOC about getting back into routing. This back and forth requires testing to validate that the supplier has fixed the problem. But that is all wrong. Most supplier problems are due to capacity. Capacity of bandwidth or ports. Most trouble tickets happen right before, during, and right after the busy hour period. Guess why? It’s because that supplier has sold that route to every carrier imaginable, and that demand on the bandwidth, ports, or switches causes quality problems. So, they are just trying to figure out how to get back into route once they are pulled from route. Most of the time they don’t even do anything to improve quality. They just ask to be put back into route, and because your NOC team has established procedures to follow, these are time consuming and resource  intensive tasks. This means you and your team are spending money and time fixing someone else’s network and the root cause isn’t even being addressed.

The overwhelming issues of quality in the interconnect voice world are due to capacity and demand. That’s why we don’t manage quality that way. We look at quality as the same attribute as price, PDD, CLI, etc. If a supplier is underperforming to a particular destination, let the interconnect management system remove the supplier from route, send an automated alert to the supplier to let them know they were removed from route and then, in an hour, or 2, or 3, or 24 (the carrier decides), the interconnect management system will automatically put that supplier back into route. And the quality assessment resets and starts all over. That eliminates all the NOC-to-NOC communications and time your team wastes troubleshooting your suppliers network, which isn’t their job, and which shouldn’t cost you dollars.

That’s how you manage quality. That’s what Dynamic Quality Management looks like.

Good Luck —Ani