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  • Guest: Brad Hine

  • Company: ETI's GIS and Analytics Solutions

  • Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of the Broadband Bunch. I’m Craig Corbin. Thanks for joining us. For broadband providers worldwide, the ability to monitor and manage communications delivery devices, as well as provision services has always been of the utmost importance. Today, increased dependence worldwide on the internet to support a quantum leap in remote workforce demands, distance learning, content streaming, and telemedicine among other things, have placed a premium on real time proactive monitoring. Beamfly, an innovative and award winning product from ETI Software is making a huge impact on the broadband industry. Brad Hine, ETI’s Product Director of GIS and Analytics Solutions is here to talk about Beamfly, it’s capabilities and to announce a tremendous trial offer of the solution.

    Craig:

    ETI Software has been well known by service providers for the past quarter century for being able to assist those providers with a host of pre-integrated technologies related to voice, video, and data. It sounds like there is quite a bit of excitement surrounding Beamfly, the newest addition to their product portfolio.

    Brad:

    In the last year we have been developing some new products and also enhancements on what we’ve been doing, as you said for the last almost three decades. We cut our teeth at ETI in subscriber management, device monitoring, and service provisioning. Some of the challenges in the industry that we had to meet, over the years, were that telecommunications companies have rolled out different systems to provision voice, video services, and data broadband services. Most of the time, when they turn those up, they have to create new technologies with different vendors, and then when they go to turn up their subscribers, a lot of those technologies don’t talk to each other. What ETI has done, we’re also integrators – we’ve integrated all those backend technologies and aggregated all those systems into one user interface, which we would use for subscriber management across services.

    Brad:

    Fast forward to today, we’re getting a lot of requests for some newer technologies to be added to what we do. One of our newer products, Beamfly, just won an award and is really a combination of device management, service provisioning, and auto configuration mixed with a geospatial location intelligence dashboard. We’ve been getting a lot of requests from the industry to move towards that single pane of glass experience, where a service provider can view their whole network, view their whole footprint, immediately see threats in real time, and then when they see patterns happening within a map or within the dashboard, they can start to adjust and they can even go back and analyze historic timelines and things like that. So far, from both our customers and the industry, we’re getting a lot of good feedback and successful references from it.

    Craig:

    That sounds like the type of information that would have a very direct impact on the day to day workflow of a service provider with regard to being able to utilize their staff much more efficiently.

    Brad:

    You hit the nail right on the head. Those challenges, for a service provider, are simply how can they responsibly and effectively service subscribers while keeping costs low and awareness high as to what’s going on at those subscriber premises? And that’s what this gives them. Traditional provisioning systems will allow you to provision a device remotely for certain services, so the subscriber only receives those services. But what are you doing on the monitoring side? We’ve gotten a ton of requests over the last many years to have a more intelligent information coming back to the network operation center so they can identify issues even before they happen, they can properly diagnose them, they can start to act on them so they can fix issues. The specific reasons for these requests include keeping costs low and keeping customer satisfaction high, and we’ve started to see already that that’s happening,

    Craig:

    Congratulations on the notable award that Beamfly has already garnered, from a very well-known name in the world of geospatial information, tell us about that.

    Brad:

    One of our partners in this space is Esri, a world leader in geographic information systems (GIS). Upon receiving all these requests over the last few years to enhance our product, it was very obvious to us that it would be a huge benefit and that we needed to combine the ability to auto provision and to reach out to these devices remotely.  With the spatial benefits that Esri brings, we’re already starting to see the benefit where you can actually see real time information on a web driven map interface with dashboard data and technology right there in the same view. About a year ago, we got our teams together and started pilots to provide this capability to wireless internet service providers (WISPs), who were our initial focus, although all our products service the whole industry of telecommunications.

    Brad:

    What we saw is that there was really a gap in the fixed wireless arena, that between the tower antenna and the CPE, a lot of information wasn’t  known about all the connectivity going on between those two points, and then the ability to reach out to the device, if you saw a network error or a device not performing it at the high quality where it needed to be. At the beginning of this year, we did trials with some of our WISP customers, and it was clear that we are doing some things in the world of telecommunications that they hadn’t seen from other folks. In March, we received an award from Esri, for telecommunications innovation in the field of what they call engagement.  The award was for ETI Software’s innovating the front end process for network operations groups to better view live data, predictive patterns that are going on in the network, and also be able to analyze the history of data, view trends and see what led up to that point.

    Craig:

    When the live device status is combined with the geospatial monitoring, service providers are able to make decisions much more quickly and much more efficiently, which should result in higher customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction has always been a concern for providers now more than ever.

    Brad:

    In no other industry is customer satisfaction such a slippery slope. Broadband connectivity, whether it’s fixed line or fixed wireless, has become a utility. In the last few months with the changes in the world due to COVID-19, it’s never been more crucial for people to be connected. In some of underserved or unserved communities in the rural parts of the US where wireless internet service providers are starting out and are starting to grow, it’s crucial for those subscribers to stay connected. Beamfly allows those service providers to be proactive instead of reactive.

    Craig:

    Is there a story behind the Beamfly name?

    Brad:

    We aptly called it Beamfly because we are provisioning devices and monitoring them either over a beam of light e.g. fixed line fiber or monitoring connectivity on fixed wireless networks between the tower and the end device, whether that is the CPE, or the gateway inside the house. So, we named it Beamfly.

    Craig:

    In dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19, doesn’t Beamfly allow service providers to be able to manage their network almost entirely remotely, as opposed to in the past where it was necessary to be at the house or on a tower to evaluate the status of devices?

    Brad:

    I’ve been in telecommunications for the last couple of decades of my career, and over that time the key areas of focus for service providers have been cutting costs while keeping customer satisfaction high.  They want to reduce truck rolls and have the key capability to remotely diagnose and correct issues on the network. For smaller and more rural based WISPs, the ability to be able to auto configure and have zero touch provisioning is extremely important.  Beamfly can alert WISPs to possibly troublesome patterns in the network and allow them, without going on-site, to reprovision that circuit, reach out to that device, troubleshoot and make corrections.

    Brad:

    The added ability to bring the geospatial element into it allows us that visual element. Beamfly can monitor everything in real time through a map-based web interface, where we can see subscribers that are online, subscribers that are not, and/or subscribers that are experiencing issues with the network.  In that way, service providers can be proactive to make sure that connections are robust, and subscribers have a good experience.

    Craig:

    Obviously we’re in a situation now where broadband is no longer considered a luxury to anyone, it’s essential for survival in so many different ways. Beamfly seems like a game changer for service providers as to how they monitor and manage their network. How can we learn more about Beamfly?

    Brad:

    You can find more information at  etisoftware.com or reach out to me directly at bhine@etisoftware.com as I’d be very interested in speaking with you. We are very focused currently on WISPs because we see a real need in those areas that they serve. We want to help WISPs be better at what they do, providing broadband services to their subscribers in underserved or unserved communities.  To that end, WISPs can go here for a special offer to see for themselves how Beamfly can help them with real-time device monitoring & management.


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