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NBN Co doubles down on AI-powered ‘self-healing’ network plans

NBN Co doubles down on AI-powered ‘self-healing’ network plans

Also highlights intentions for new hires, network upgrades.

Credit: Supplied

NBN Co has reiterated its intentions to create an artificial intelligence- (AI) powered “intelligent, self-healing network”, expand its workforce and commit to more network upgrades in its first annual service improvement plan (ASIP).

The plan, which was one of the commitments the National Broadband Network (NBN) builder made during the process of establishing its Special Access Undertaking (SAU), outlines NBN Co’s plans and execution of service improvement initiatives for the 2024 financial year and beyond.

In the inaugural edition, NBN Co outlined eight initiatives, one of which is automation through AI. Specifically, the initiative, as laid out in a statement summarising the ASIP, is the “commitment to automate network management operations supported by artificial intelligence, especially for fault resolution, with the aim of creating an ‘intelligent, self-healing network’”.

No specific details are mentioned in the actual plan itself, however, there are references to system enhancements to “simplify and automate key network management and operational activities in the end-to-end ecosystem”.

The report mentions that, in the second half of FY24, NBN Co intends to use "existing and new service diagnostic capabilities on fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) access technology, with improved pattern alarm profiling, to proactively identify and restore individual service faults".

"The focus of the program is to improve the product and service experience by reducing the need for RSPs and end-users to reactively raise service faults," the report said.

ARN understands that this is partially referring to the concept of the self-healing network.

The plan also states that NBN Co is looking to “continue to evolve the recently established dedicated remediation case management model for end-to-end connection or fault resolution”. However, the suggested methods for this touch on working with retail service providers (RSP), improving clarity around restoration work and timelines and providing tailored services.

The NBN builder previously made reference to its intentions for utilising AI in its corporate plan for 2024, released in August, where it said that “further research is underway into the expanding field of artificial intelligence and how it may support everyday activities, such as helping technicians in the field and strengthening network resilience”.

“NBN Co also conducted trials on sensory equipment to detect accidental damage before it happens, aiming to save time for the company and field delivery partners while reducing the impact of unplanned outages for the end user,” the corporate plan said.

Meanwhile, the phrase “self-healing network” was previously used in its showcase at CommsDay’s Wholesale Congress, which was held on 19 October, with NBN general manager for integrated prioritisation planning for networks Sarah Humphreys claiming the company has a vision “to create an intelligent, self-healing NBN network; one that leverages automation and … uses AI to improve network reliability and the customer experience”.

Aside from AI, the NBN builder also said that its field workforce will be expanded with around 80 new roles, which is expected to provide regional customers with additional support for tailored services and faster connection of new orders and fault repairs.

On the upgrade side, NBN Co’s ASIP outlined that it is expanding fibre-to-the-premises to over 7.7 million homes and businesses. It also said that it is on target to bring close to 10.2 million premises on its fixed line network to access the NBN Home Ultrafast speed tier to reach speeds of close to 1Gbps.

Additionally, a projected 53,000 premises with underperforming fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) lines are also set for upgrades over to FTTP connections, its fixed wireless network is set to provide over 750,000 eligible homes and businesses with faster download speeds and its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network is slated to be modernised and transitioned over to distributed access architecture for increased speed and data demands, as well as improved network reliability.

Further, NBN Co also claimed that RSPs and customers are to see service benefits from the implementation of its Enhance Customer Service Delivery (ECSD) program, which is in its second year and focuses on improvements and simplification across activations, network and service assurance processes. Specifically, system interfaces are earmarked for enhances to cut down service disruptions and customer effort through proactive detection and repair of performance issues.

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