Are You Being Served?

By Jim Baumann

Telefonica del Perú S.A.A., (Telefonica) the Republic of Peru's telecommunications giant, is a wide-ranging public communications provider that includes wireless and landline telephone, cable television, broadband, and Internet access within its comprehensive array of services.

Among the crown jewels of the company's assets is Cable Mágico, its cable television network, which is based in the competitive Lima market.To help maintain its technological edge, Cable Mágico implemented a GIS in its customer service department.Among other applications, this GIS helps the marketing department perform customer segmentation analysis for its planning and sales forecast reports.In addition, it helps monitor the cable television network to eliminate clandestine connections.Both applications run on a customer information system, an Informix- based system.

Comments Edison Ramirez Motta, technical area systems coordinator for Telefonica , "During the past five years, Telefonica del Perú has been systematically developing its GIS, which has ultimately expanded into a corporate wide system with which it integrates, maintains and distributes spatial data throughout the entire company.In creating the Cable Mágico application, it made extensive use of this corporate GIS."

In building its GIS, the company exerted substantial effort in collecting, digitizing and standardizing its spatial data, which in some cases had been originally collected in CAD formats.This effort required more than two years of work and cost almost $4 million.The degree of detail is down to the "door" level, in which each customer has a unique identifying point within the system, specifying the door of the house or place of business where telecommunications service has been installed.The maps were digitized at a scale of 1:1,000 to allow more variables for analysis, so the GIS could provide better support for decision-making at the enterprise level.Spatial data was also integrated with its legacy Informix-based system.

Customer Service
Using ESRI's ArcIMS, which provides Internet access to its ArcSDE and Oracle managed spatial database, service representatives of Cable Mágico can run a service area application and immediately determine if a potential customer is located within the company's existing coverage area.If service is currently provided to the area, the system generates a work order that is forwarded to the installation department and subsequently printed from a common Web browser.If the potential customer is outside the existing service area, the address information is collected to determine the feasibility of expanding network coverage in the future.

The Telefonica enterprise GIS uses a three-tiered architecture. This architecture loosely couples the applications and data as opposed to the more rigid client/server model.The three-tier model allows the company greater flexibility in using and modifying its applications and data.

Comments Américo Gamarra Pacheco, integrated systems analyst for Telematica S.A., ESRI's GIS software distributor in Peru, "A big advantage of the three-tiered architecture is that most of the company's business methods, regulations and strategies are held in the server where it is easier to make changes for specific applications and projects.One of the company's goals is to provide centralized administration and maintenance to promote the distribution of urban cadastral information to each of the many business units within the corporation, and this architecture supports that process."

Planning Department and Wireless Division
Another application that Telefonica is excited about is one developed by its planning department.Among the data collected in the enterprise GIS is statistical and demographic information about customers and their demand for landline telephones.The planning application allows the company to analyze its existing service areas using this demographic data so it can make intelligent decisions concerning the expansion of its coverage areas and the investments required to continue providing quality service to its customers.The application was completely developed in Visual Basic using the interfaces available through ArcView and Crystal Reports.This application is the first one the company developed using ArcGIS technology, which it uses to manage service and installation requests.

Comments Carlos Vidal, GIS technical area coordinator for the planning department at Telefonica, "These thematic maps let us represent our information based on saturation levels of our land base telephone installations and their areas of influence so we can easily make better and faster decisions now."

In addition, the company's wireless division uses ArcView to analyze the volume of traffic on its many telecommunications antennas.This allows the division to orient each antenna to allow maximum coverage while minimizing overlaps in the areas served by adjacent antennas as a result of processing and mapping on-line tabular information regarding status, traffic, failures and other parameters of the cell antennas.It also provides essential information for decision-making in expanding service areas, the placement of supplemental antennas and mapping alarms for failures of antennas to quickly solve any emergency.

Because of its detailed geodatabase, Telefonica has been able to develop products for use throughout the company, including an electronic street reference guide for Lima called the "Callejero," or "On the Street," distributed via the Intranet and widely used by all the business units in the company's various divisions.

Concludes Gamarra, "Telefonica del Perú has implemented an enterprise GIS that can serve as a model in functionality and flexibility for other telecommunications companies that are integrating GIS into their operations."

Published Friday, May 20th, 2005

Written by Jim Baumann

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