Telecom has released its independent review of its network carried out by the UK-based consultancy Analysys Mason Group.
The document is relatively brief and mostly in summary form, but a Telecom spokesman told NBR the rest of Analysys Mason's findings are still in the form of a series of internal "working documents". These do not constitute part of the report; the nine-page document released today constitutes the report in its entirety, the spokesman said.
On initial reading, the report looks like a net-positive for Telecom, with enough pointed criticism so give it credibility, but also enough praise for Telecom's upgrades so far to help restore public confidence, and to help win over big clients like Fonterra and Capital and Coast Health, who both put XT upgrades on hold pending Analysys Mason's findings.
In a note to Telecom corporate clients this morning, Gen-i division boss Chris Quin said the report showed that mistakes had been made with the initial roll-out, but that it also showed the network was now "fundamentally sound".
Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Ernie Newman agreed, saying the report "should give users confidence that it is a sound and robust platform for the future",
Not ready for prime time
The review finds that although growth in XT traffic was within Telecom’s projections, the network built by Alcatel-Lucent was not able to accommodate it.
Specific software failings are identified.
Partner Alcatel-Lucent’s design of the XT network is labelled “overly complex”.
At a press briefing this morning, Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds said XT was built with "Very high security standards, perhaps too high".
And Telecom is criticised for the initial configuration of XT, which was designed to match the coverage area of its older CDMA network, leading to "variable" coverage.
Immature operational management systems
But beyond the technical glitches, the report also finds that Telecom “Immature operational management systems and process failures contributed to the impact of network issues.”
Analysys Manson recommended Telecom “Improves the support systems and processes required to better perform network monitoring and fault analysis and prioritisation”.
It also said that Telecom needs to ensure that “The operating model clearly defines processes and areas of responsibility”.
Telecom’s list of to-do items achieved since Analysys Mason delivered its first recommendations on January 29 includes “new senior management structure in place” (Telecom CTO Frank Mount, most closely associated with XT’s architecture, resigned on February 23; Alcatel-Lucent country manager Steve Lowe resigned the day before).
There has been a "Change in culture to allow escalation of concerns" the summary states and a "new governance framework" has been established.
At this morning's press briefing, Dr Reynolds said the governance issues were to do with communication between his company and Alcatel-Lucent.
The report also notes progress Telecom has made in boosting XT’s infrastructure since its failures over December and the New Year, including the installation of two new radio network controllers (one in Auckland, one in Christchurch), taking its total RNCs to four, and fibre backhaul being added at 23 cellsites.
Telecom has also installed tower-mounted amplifiers on 423 of its 1000-odd XT cellsites, and is in the process of adding 41 new cellsites (27 have now been added since launch).
The report does not seek to blame anybody, Dr Reynolds said. It was only ever meant to analyse technical and business processes.
Dr Reynolds would not say if Alcatel-Lucent was paying for any of the XT infrastructure upgrades.
Asked if the the French company was still "on notice", Dr Reynolds replied "of course. They always are". Alcatel-Lucent had to "earn its stripes" as Telecom's network carrier.
Telecom shares (NZX: TEL) were down 2.76% to $2.09 in early afternoon trading.
Fri, 07 May 2010