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SS7 Probe Cost Justification

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The financial justification for implementing an SS7 Probe is shared between the Revenue Assurance/Billing Group and Network Operations. The utilization of SS7 data will enable both organizations to contribute to the company’s financial bottom line.  The use of a SS7 Probe is not only a labor saving device it also can be used to document what is working correctly. One of the most common industry questions from management is, “Are we terminating phantom traffic, and if so, how much?” The monthly reconciliation of SS7 CDRs to the access billing records can definitively answer the question. An answer on “None” is a great answer and with a SS7 Probe you can prove it.

The key financial impacts of implementing an SS7 Probe are Revenue Assurance, Network Resource Utilization, Network Maintenance Efficiencies, and management of the SS7 Intelligent Network Services (LNP queries). The follow is a brief discussion of each area as it relates to cost justification of a SS7 Probe.

Revenue Assurance

The SS7 Call Detail Records (CDR) produced by the SS7 Probe can be used to identify phantom traffic which are calls that should be billed as access revenue or wireless reciprocal compensation.   Key sources of phantom traffic are calls from tandem service providers without associated EMI billing records, toll and wireless traffic that terminate across EAS inter-office trunks, translation errors in telco’s switch that results in originating and terminating calls failing to generated an AMA billing record, and the incorrect routing of toll traffic onto the telco’s long distance network. Risk of loss revenue exponentially increases with the size of a telco’s service area, quantity of switches, bundling of services, and technician staffing.

The revenue at risk can be accurately estimated by conducting an SS7 – Billing Audit where SS7 CRDs are reconciled to the access billing records. For example if as a result of the audit it is found that $5,000 per month is not being billed due to phantom traffic. A reasonable assumption is that once the problem has been fixed, that over time a comparable problem will manifest itself elsewhere in the telco’s network. The minimum financial value of implementing an ongoing proactive Revenue Assurance Solution, versus an annual audit, would be $60,000.

Network Resource Utilization

The operational cost for a telco tie directly to network and hardware cost.   An SS7 Probe enables a Network Administrator the ability to efficiently size both the hardware requirements and the network circuit expenses. The over sizing of trunk groups waste bandwidth and company revenues.

An SS7 Probe strategically placed in a telco’s network can monitor the utilization of all trunks regardless of switch type. The probe provides a single source of information that eliminate the need for Network Administrators having to access multiple technologies to see what is happing across a multiple switch network.

The automated alerts can significantly reduce network labor expenses and ensure consistent network quality. For example a probe can be configured to generate alerts for critical conditions that may occur on any trunk in the network, such as, circuits that are nearing capacity.   An alert can prompt timely actions to service impacting issues.

The revenue impact of resource utilization can be estimated by establishing the following assumptions:

  1. Cost Savings or Cost Avoidance of eliminating or re-distributing network hardware.
  2. Cost Savings of reducing the bandwidth of leased circuits.
  3. Cost Savings associated with centralizing Network Capacity Planning.
  4. Cost Savings of centralizing and standardizing the network alerts into a single technology.

Network Maintenance Efficiencies

The technician time, which equates to labor cost, required to resolve call processing issues of a switch can be extensive. The complexity of the work increases when a single switch provides service to multiple geographic areas; especially when calls between the service areas are to be treated as long distance traffic. Add to the mix the addition of new trunk groups and the validation of the switch routing tables, the resulting time to isolate switch translation errors can stretch into days.

The use of a SS7 Probe to capture call setup and release information provides a technician insight into the workings of both the switch and network. This detail will reduce the time required to isolate the problem to either the network or the switch, and assist in determining the corrective action. For telco’s with large networks and multiple switches, a centralized SS7 Probe can be used to standardize the trouble resolution process. The revenue impact of network maintenance efficiencies can be estimated by establishing the following assumptions:

  1. An average amount of time saved in the resolution of call processing issues.
  2. The average hourly rate of a technician to work the trouble ticket.
  3. Multiple the “Average Time Saved” by the “Technician Labor Cost” by the number of trouble tickets for the past twelve months that involved call processing issues.

Management of the SS7 Intelligent Network Services

The SS7 Network provides a number of databases called Intelligent Network Services that are used for the routing of calls and enhanced services. Each query of a SS7 database results in an access charge where or not the query was successful. Even though a single query costs a fraction of a penny, the expense of redundant queries adds up quickly. Today nearly every out going call requires a query of a SS7 database:

  • Telephone number portability
  • Toll free calls / Freephone
  • Prepaid calling
  • Virtual private networks (e.g. : Family group calling)
  • Centrex service (Virtual PBX)
  • Private-number plans (with numbers remaining unpublished in directories)
  • Universal Personal Telecommunication service (a universal personal telephone number)
  • Call distribution based on various criteria associated with the call
    • Location Based Routing
    • Time based routing
    • Proportional call distribution (e.g. between two or more call centres or offices).
  • Call Queueing
  • Call transfer

The only way to monitor the occurrence of redundant SS7 database queries is with the use of a SS7 Probe. In most cases the cause of the redundant queries is due to response issues on the part of the database service provided. The SS7 Data Query Reports can be used to document and quantify the amount of over charge for Intelligent Network Services.

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