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Loop management systems will help meet demand for DSL.

The market for digital subscriber line (DSL) loops to provide broadband services is poised for explosive growth. Industry forecasts predict that up to 50 million customers may be connected to the Internet via DSL services within four years. The DSL Forum reports there are now more than one million DSL subscribers in the U. S. At the current rate of growth, line count will double approximately every six months. By the end of 2001, the installed base of DSL customers is forecast to be nearly 10 million.

The FCC mandate for equal access to copper facilities, along with this demand for broadband connections, has significantly increased competition between carriers. Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are scrambling to develop DSL service offerings to meet the demands of their customers and avoid losing market share to competitors.

Service providers face a significant challenge in supporting this rate of growth. Using current technology, an average of three site visits is required to install DSL service. Personnel must be, dispatched to the customer's location, and also to various points along the network infrastructure, in order to configure, provision and test the loop. Burgeoning demand, combined with a shortage of qualified personnel, results in long delays for the customer and competitive pressures for the provider.

The answer is to automate as many of these functions as possible, reducing or eliminating the need for site visits. The loop management system (LMS) can automate testing, provisioning and maintenance functions, enabling service providers to install, troubleshoot and maintain many more loops with fewer personnel. An LMS is made up of a physical matrix that couples inputs to outputs, and provides access to any loop for testing purposes.

ADVANTAGES OF AN LMS

An LMS can incorporate or interface with industry test heads, which provide all of the appropriate loop test functions. It can switch in spare facilities or connect DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM) ports to any of the customer loops remotely and automatically. The system can keep network configuration records and easily implement service changes. A properly implemented system can eliminate visits to co-location sites, remote sites and multiple dwelling units.

The LMS can verify whether the connecting copper loop will support the service, rapidly connect the customer to the broadband service, restore service quickly during outages and provide for service upgrades. It can perform all of these functions remotely, eliminating the need for the manual intervention that is now required. In fact, many of these situations today require multiple site visits if multiple carriers are involved.

For example, if a CLEC is the service provider, it must coordinate with the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) to get a copper loop assigned and connected between the CLEC's equipment and the customer's location. Craft people must make the appropriate connections in both the CLEC and ILEC locations. If a problem arises, more than one visit may be required to configure the service. If a customer chooses to change service providers or alter its DSL service, one or more additional site visits are required.

Since many businesses use DSL for Internet access because of increased quality of service, customers are intolerant of outages. With current technology, craft intervention is required to restore service after an equipment or other network failure. An LMS acts as a remote switch to repair the service without the need for a visit to the central office co-location.

PERSONNEL NEEDS LESSENED

LMSs are placed at the network interface points between carriers, and may also be used at the network interface in multiple dwelling units and campus facilities. With an LMS in place, the services can be configured more rapidly and the activities of carders can be coordinated without the need to dispatch personnel. To return to the CLEC/ILEC example, with LMSs implemented at the CLEC's co-location area and at the ILEC's distribution frame, a loop can be tested, accepted from the ILEC, and placed into service--all without the need for a craft person to visit the site.

This is accomplished by configuring the cross-connect matrix to connect to the test head at appropriate times, and to connect the carrier's equipment to the appropriate copper loop. This configuration uses standard protocols implemented in the carrier's network operation centers. In the event of an outage, testing can be done remotely, and the defective element can be bypassed via the cross-connect capability. If a customer wants to upgrade services, the cross connect can simply be provisioned to switch the existing loop onto another service card within the DSLAM.

Remote testing and provisioning results in much quicker turnup for the customer, increasing customer satisfaction and, ultimately, service provider revenue. This enables the service provider to offer a highly reliable, highly available DSL service to customers. Craft intervention is greatly reduced, speeding broadband implementation. Those service providers who implement loop management systems will enjoy a competitive advantage by improving customer service and reducing the costs associated with service implementation.

Rodey is vice president of corporate marketing for HyperEdge Corp., Itasca, IL, and also serves as the vice chairman of the DSL Forum.
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event
Comment:Forecasts for digital subscriber line services have predicted that up to 50 million subscribers will be connected within four years.
Author:Rodey, Bill
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:841
Previous Article:nanoBITS.
Next Article:Hats off to Robert Young.
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