Utility-Owned ISPs Should Outsource Network Operations Centers


Vigilant NOC operations are vital to preserving reliable broadband performance and customer satisfaction.

Isaias Capistrano Utility-Owned ISPs Should Outsource Network Operations Centers The author of this Expert Opinion is Isaias Capistrano. His bio is below.

Broadband projects don’t end once customers are connected—they need consistent monitoring and maintenance to continue meeting a community’s needs over time. But, with limited capital and expertise, how can rural utilities be expected to stand up and staff network operations centers (NOCs) for 24/7 monitoring and support? For many, it’s an unrealistic expectation that puts network reliability at risk.

Nonetheless, it’s a job that needs doing. Vigilant NOC operations are vital to preserving reliable broadband performance and customer satisfaction, which is where third-party NOCs come in.

The NOC’s Critical Role

Before diving into the benefits of outsourcing, one must first understand the functions of a NOC. At its core, a network operations center proactively monitors an ISP’s network health and rapidly remediates issues before customers are impacted.

These centers will use:

  • Comprehensive visibility tools to track performance metrics across the network
  • Skilled engineers to analyze data, troubleshoot problems, and execute solutions
  • Efficient processes for managing device inventories and coordinating upgrades and changes

Network operations centers also require monitoring software, hardware, training, facilities, and around-the-clock staffing, since network incidents can strike at any time.  

The Advantages of Outsourcing

It’s true that an in-house NOC does provide more direct control over one’s operations, but is that more of a relief or a burden? When partnering with the right provider, you’re as involved as you want to be—checking into the most pertinent analytics with regular reporting and letting the experts handle the rest.

Now, let’s review the benefits of outsourcing a NOC:

Cost Efficiency: Without the needed investment in specialized personnel, infrastructure, software licenses, and ongoing training, ISPs can dramatically reduce their upfront monitoring expenses and keep time-to-profit reasonable.

Access to Expertise: Third-party NOC providers employ teams of highly skilled and experienced network engineers, each operating with industry-proven procedures for monitoring, analysis, response, and reporting. Replicating this specialized talent and processes in-house can quickly become expensive.

Scalability and Flexibility: Need to expand monitoring operations to match network growth or new technologies? Outsourced NOCs can rapidly scale up resources and skill sets in days—rather than the months required for internal team expansion.

Focus on Core Business: Rather than being consumed by day-to-day monitoring and incident response, your technical staff can dedicate their time to strategic initiatives that drive business growth and innovation.

Business Continuity: A quality outsourced NOC provider will have redundancies and disaster recovery plans in place to ensure service continuity, even during disruptive events that could overwhelm an in-house team.

Advice for choosing a NOC partner

While the core responsibilities of a NOC are universal, not all providers are created equal. When selecting an outsourced NOC partner, look for one that takes a personalized approach, thoroughly understands your network architecture, and can tailor services to your unique operational needs and priorities.

For broadband service providers already stretched thin, maintaining an in-house NOC competent enough to support reliable network operations can prove an excessive challenge. But by teaming up with a NOC outsourcing partner, utilities can access an exceptional experience at managing the unseen work required to keep networks optimized and communities connected.

Isaias Capistrano is the Network Operations Center Manager at Irby Utilities. His more than 19 years of leadership experience comes from serving as the NOC Manager at Irby and his time as an Electronics Maintenance Chief and Communications Chief in the Marine Corps. Currently, Isaias is responsible for Irby’s Network Operations Center, providing proactive network monitoring, network maintenance, and incident response services. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

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