Reviewing Contracts for Content and Approval

Frequently contracts for adding products, services and for changing service providers must be processed. The ability to read, understand and negotiate such contracts is essential to becoming an effective manager.

First, it is absolutely necessary to become comfortable reading contracts and understanding their meaning. Certainly contract language is not the same as that which one might use with friends or family. And it’s hardly typical of many office conversations either. But it is what it is, so just get over it. Many of the commonly used terms and phrases in contract law are the result of years of accumulated court decisions and previous contract experience. These days many contracts are the Frankensteinian products of unbridled copy and paste. (Try comparing your various roaming agreements for similarities.) Continue reading “Reviewing Contracts for Content and Approval”

Increasing Throughput on SMPP Links

We recently began using what we call an SMS Push application.  SMS Push allows us to send Text Messages to our subscribers in bulk.  Typically these messages are some Marketing promotion or a Customer Service announcement. The message text and a list of MDNs is provided to the application and it sends them serially, one at a time.  We wanted to speed that up.

The SMS Push application was provided by Quantum System Integrators in Costa Mesa, CA.  We’ve worked with them on several projects before and they’ve always high quality software and services with excellent customer support.  The application runs on Sun Solaris and is started from the shell command line.  It sends a predetermined messages to each MDN in a list provided as a command-line argument.  The application spawns a single instance of itself and sends the messages.  Through-put has been about 1 message per second, using an SMPP link to our Primal Technologies SMS-C. Continue reading “Increasing Throughput on SMPP Links”

Least Cost Routing is harder than it looks

All voice network operators are continually looking for ways to cut the cost of delivering outgoing long distance calls. The best way to do this is to use 2 or more Inter-Exchange Carriers (IEC, in FCC-speak) or what you and I might call “long distance service providers,” and cherry pick the cheaper provider for each dialed destination. This approach is called “Least Cost Routing.” Seems simple, right? Well, it’s not, really.

First there is the tyranny of numbers. A Least Cost Routing application typically will use the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) to determine all possible dialed destinations. The LERG defines roughly 450,000 destinations. For each destination you might have a cost proposal from several IEC. We tried evaluating 8 IEC.

Continue reading “Least Cost Routing is harder than it looks”

Traffic Pumpers Filling Long Distance Pipes

Starting late last year our long-distance network has been overwhelmed with calls to various for-free services. These services often appear to be the proverbial free lunch, with no apparent business model because the service is 100% free to the end user. Typical offerings include free conference calls or voice chat rooms. These services can completely destroy a flat-rate all-you-can-eat telephony service provider.

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Our Call Waiting Tone Went Missing

A good part of the last couple days has been spent looking for missing call waiting tones. Call waiting tones are the soft background beeps that usually are heard when you are talking on the phone and someone else tries to call your phone. The sound you’ll typically hear is a double beep of around 440 Hertz for 300 milliseconds. Well, we lost ours.

We’re not entirely certain when we lost it. Looking back, it appears that the first subscriber report may have been received in mid-September. Only recently have the volume of complaints risen to a level that caused anyone to intervene. (There’s probably a process improvement or two lurking within that statement.)
Because call waiting tones are provided by a component of the Nortel switch, we immediately opened a dialog with their Technical Assistance Service (TAS.) Starting yesterday morning several engineers at Nortel TAS with on a conference bridge with several of our Engineers trying to isolate the problem. Continue reading “Our Call Waiting Tone Went Missing”