Telstra is reviewing the amount of connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) bandwidth it is buying from NBN Co on a rolling weekly basis in a bid to maintain service levels.
Group managing director of networks, Mike Wright, told the telco’s investor day that it was also able to manage its bandwidth requirements better by taking telemetry feeds from the home gateways used by its customers.
“As we move more into NBN, a lot of the work we do is really around managing … CVC network capacity,” Wright said.
“That’s a process that we’ve set up that we do weekly. Every week we’re measuring the traffic on the CVC interfaces, we’re applying our own statistical analysis to it, and working out what we need to buy for the next week.
“That goes into the network that week and then the next week we do the same process.”
While Wright said Telstra could be “quite confident in the capacity we’re provisioning in the network” through the weekly review process alone, the carrier is using other data feeds to make sure it is provisioning enough bandwidth to meet user demands for internet access.
“What we have done is by putting robots inside the [home] gateways and [through the use of] some physical robots we can now measure the experience end-to-end,” Wright said.
“We know actually what customers are getting.”
The home gateways - also known as Frontier hybrid modems - were introduced earlier this year for NBN customers, and are currently being enhanced.
They require little set-up by the user and contain a 4G backup service that cuts in if the primary fixed service goes down.
However, they also come embedded with soft ‘robots’ designed to collect telemetry data that helps Telstra understand what is happening in the home in case of problem diagnosis.
“We’re embedding software inside those modems that give us telemetry to help us and our customers better understand what’s going in their own house,” Wright said.
The gateway is able to “self-configure” its wi-fi, for example, if it recognises a source of interference from a neighbouring house.
“We [also] have built-in speed test robots which tell us if the customer’s getting the line speed which should help if they ring [Telstra] front-of-house [for support],” Wright said.
“We’re getting more telemetry out of the actual modem itself so we’re not always trying to guess what’s going on.
“Because now when they ring us today we won’t know what’s going on in their home, but when they ring us in the future we’ll have insights on what’s really happening.”
Taken together, Telstra also now has access to a growing amount of telemetry from endpoints across its network.
This is being fed into the company’s next-generation operational support system (OSS) so engineers can "look at that very quickly to understand how to adjust the network”.
Telstra said it was confident the systems it had would allow it deal with any minimum standards imposed on wholesale services bought from NBN Co by retail service providers (RSPs).
The ACCC today said it would consider regulations to guarantee a minimum customer experience on the NBN.
The inquiry is the result of a months-long stoush between NBN Co and its RSPs, particularly over the average amount of CVC per user they are buying.
The low amount is causing performance problems for NBN users, especially during peak usage periods such as evenings.
Though the government is keen to take legal action in order to persuade RSPs to buy more CVC, it appears the ACCC favours a regulatory approach instead.
Telstra said that whatever happened, it would emerge relatively unscathed.
“We already know from the tests we’ve done that we’re delivering at least or better than the standards that the ACCC have defined for customer experience,” Wright said.