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When fault notifications arrive, restoring service for customers as quickly as possible is the top priority for measurement engineers responsible for the region. They must juggle several challenges in planning, prioritisation, coordination, quality assurance and cost control to remedy faults quickly.
If Swisscom receives a fault notification from a customer, it is forwarded to the cablex Customer Service Desk (CSD). The CSD prepares the necessary documents such as lists, situation plans or splicing reports, opens the order and informs the technicians by phone.
The more customers affected by the fault, the higher the priority of the notification. The prioritisation is stipulated by Swisscom and is categorised in levels from 1 (A, B, C, D, E) to 5. It depends on which network element is affected by the outage. A typical example of a priority case is the outage of a Micro Can (mCAN). A fault in a regional optical fibre cable, a mobile communications antenna or a fault notification from a business customer can also be classified as a case with the highest priority. The cablex teams from cablex CBU-RUN must remedy these faults within 24 hours.
What happens on-site during a priority fault?
In the first step, measurements are taken. The on-site technicians must find out whether the mCAN is defective, whether the problem can be attributed to the lines, or whether the fault can be remedied in the main office. In this case, the entire section of the connection is measured “end to end”. Then the measurement segments are shortened step by step. The measurement engineers get an overall picture of the situation based on the measurements taken, and the fault can be localised and remedied.
There are different types of faults:
During troubleshooting, cablex regional managers cope with the challenges of planning, prioritisation, coordination, quality and cost control.
The biggest challenges in remedying faults consist of efficient planning, careful analysis, time pressure, quality assurance and cost control.
Before the measurement engineers are assigned to their deployment site, the regional managers carefully check the order sent by the CSD. They use a planning tool (PTA) to do so, and all the network information can be seen in this tool. For example, it provides information on whether there is already an ongoing project at the location of the fault, or whether a team is already there and can immediately take over the initial localisation.
Through the analysis, it can also be established early on whether the fault can be attributed to an interconnection, or whether the interruption was planned and the customer was not notified about the interruption. If multiple mCANS fail at the same time, an advance check is performed to see whether all CANs are connected to the same sleeve. It is also possible to localise the fault that way.
Per i tecnici il tempo rappresenta la sfida maggiore, soprattutto in fase di eliminazione di guasti prioritari. Allo stesso tempo, l'obiettivo consiste nell'elaborare le segnalazioni di guasto della quotidianità lavorativa nel più breve tempo possibile. Per gestire l'intero volume degli ordini, è necessario coordinare in maniera efficiente la disponibilità dei team. La pianificazione deve essere coordinata in modo tale che, oltre ai team che si dedicano agli incarichi della giornata lavorativa, vi siano sempre capacità flessibili utilizzabili a breve termine.
The technicians’ many years of experience are one reason for the good quality of the work that is done, but the composition of the team also plays a crucial role. In most cases, the teams consist of an experienced splicer and an experienced measurement engineer. That way, they can check each other’s work and execute their tasks efficiently.
The SLA regulates the times within which the fault must be remedied as specified by Swisscom. There is an SLA of 95 per cent for priority faults. This means that in 95 per cent of the faults, the customer must be back online within 24 hours. For faults in daily operations, 90 per cent of the customers must be back online within 120 hours. To achieve this rate, the regional managers must coordinate their teams based on the travel routes, skills and optimum interaction between the employees. The first objective in troubleshooting is always to restore service for the customer as quickly as possible. The cause is remedied afterwards.
In addition to planning the deployments and the reaction to priority cases, another challenge is to maintain cost efficiency. To do this, the regional managers consider alternative approaches to the solution that are just as professional but less expensive. For example, they can check whether it is actually necessary to lay a new cable or whether free reserve cables are available in the duct and can be used to remedy the fault. That makes it possible to reduce costs for civil engineering and cabling.
Three former CFS employees work in the teams of regional managers Walter Styger and Wolfgang Machalek. The former CFS employees handled the change to cablex with ease, and their integration into the cablex team also went smoothly.