Why count on Orange’s global network? Here are all the answers you need from Christian Pomiès, head of the Network Traffic Management Centre.
By the end of 2022, it’s estimated the volume of digital data transmitted around the world will increase eightfold. How has the Orange network been designed to cope with this acceleration?
Even when faced with exponential growth, we still have to transport data to and from anywhere, all the time and in a secure manner. Customers need the same services from one country to another, along with great support and clear and regular communication in the event of a problem. Trust is synonymous with network quality, availability and reliability. A single incident lasting just a few seconds can result in us losing this trust.
How do you guarantee continual network quality and reliability?
When it comes to transmitting data, we take care of 18,000km of optical fibre, 2,500 satellite links and 450,000km submarine cables. At the international network supervision centre, our mission is to identify, diagnose and troubleshoot network incidents in real time while clearly communicating what we’re doing on the network with our customers. The vast majority of problems reported by customers are directly resolved by customer advisors in local call centres. The incidents that do come to us in the supervision centre could for example be due to an abnormal spike in traffic due to spam attacks, an operator error or a natural disaster.
Our supervision centre includes a Network Traffic Management Centre that manages alarms (i.e. problems detected or anticipated on networks), and a Service Management Centre that analyses the performance of the services used by customers such as call quality. We monitor and measure network activity but also analyse how our customers’ data is travelling on our international networks so that we can adjust our capacity to their requirements.
We monitor and measure network activity but also analyse how our customers’ data is travelling on our international networks so that we can adjust our capacity to their requirements.
This 24/7 supervision is international and centralised. For example, an outage on a submarine cable carrying broadband between two continents would need permits for repairing it in international waters. In addition to physical network maintenance, in this case we would also set up a preventative contingency re-routing plan to guarantee our customers service continuity such as, for example, voice quality during their communications.
We carefully manage our field operations to minimise outage times while ensuring our technicians’ safety. During recent maintenance on high-speed links installed near a major road junction in Marseille, our local teams carried out the operation at night to ensure greater safety. These procedures may vary from one country to the next, depending on our partners and network architectures.
How can data and artificial intelligence (AI) make our networks even more reliable and therefore reinforce customer trust?
Artificial intelligence is able to learn from previous incidents to better anticipate future scenarios. In particular, it can expose “weak signals” which are apparently benign events but which can lead to an incident such as an unusual spike in traffic over a short timeframe. AI also boosts responsiveness. In the case of an unusual event on a network, it performs an automatic data backup. Finally, AI makes it possible to boost performance by immediately adjusting the network’s capacity according to exceptional use, such as a massive use of video streaming during a major sporting event. Understanding and knowing how to feed AI in the right way is a key skill that Orange employees in charge of network monitoring are beginning to acquire.