Pražská Plynárenská Distribuce, a.s. (PPD) is the subsidiary of Pražská Plynárenská, which is responsible for natural gas distribution in the area of Prague. PPD’s task is the safe handling, maintenance and modernization of the gas distribution network in the Czech capital. The company has high-quality technical facilities and professional employees who have many years of experience in the operation and construction of gas installations.
The geographical location of gas pipelines plays an important role in the activities of engineering and construction companies, architects and planners. In order to prevent breakdowns or possible accidents, they must be provided with accurate and reliable network information. According to the regulations, it is PPD which is obliged to provide the access to the data concerning the Prague area. Therefore, in April 2017 the company signed an agreement with Asseco Central Europe (ACE) for the implementation of V3S Data Delivery Portal (based on the Technical Information System) and related IT services. The new solution was built on the basis of SAMO Portal Technology.
The goal of the project was to build the comprehensive Data Delivery Portal, which will allow the company to increase the effectiveness of the services provided. An important element of the implementation was also the company’s need to meet the obligations imposed by the regulator. They concerned providing external entities with the electronic access to the data on: gas installation networks, project documentation, the execution and location of network, the notification on the handover of the site and the delivery of territorial analytical documents.
The development of the comprehensive Data Delivery Portal allowed the company to improve the efficiency of its services.
The system uses the data from the Register of Territorial Identification, Address and Real Estate (RÚIAN) to enter the address data and is connected to the services of the Administrative Business Registry (ARES) for retrieving addresses of legal entities based on the given IR. The solution is also integrated with the ArcGIS server’s geospatial services and with SMTP / SMS gateways for sending emails and sms notifications. The new Data Delivery Portal provides efficient verification of specific areas in terms of the existence of gas installations and pipelines. All necessary network information can be printed by the user or made available as DGN (CAD) files.
The implementation of the comprehensive portal solution was completed in March 2018. It has enabled PPD to meet its information obligations under the Construction Law. The system has covered the entire life cycle of applications, from the first contact, through processing, to the closure and delivery of statements and relevant documents.
The implementation of the project has resulted in a significant reduction of the operating costs of the company, which, thanks to the integration with the GIS system, has gained at the same time a tool enabling the automatic evaluation of the gas network system.
The Data Delivery Portal has ensured efficient interaction with customers. Its implementation has improved the efficiency of handling more than 12,000 requests per year, which are now processed automatically. This, in turn, has resulted in significant time saving for employees who can devote themselves to other tasks. In addition, it has improved and accelerated the communication with the customer, who, thanks to a fully automated service, no longer has to appear in person at PPD.
Analysis and audit of current business processes while defining homogenization of these processes.
Customization and development of the system to integrate it into the customer’s environment.
Development and modification of the interfaces.
Coordination with projects in progress.
Providing post-implementation support.
Západoslovenská distribučná a.s. (ZSD) is the subsidiary of Západoslovenská energetika a.s., part of the German energy group E.ON. As the largest electricity distributor in Slovakia, with more than 95 years of history, it is subject to regulatory rules under the relevant laws. The mission of ZSD is to ensure safe and reliable energy supplies as well as to improve the quality of life of the citizens in the western region of Slovakia. In order to achieve this goal, the company has made significant investments in the renovation and development of distribution facilities and the development of electronic services for its customers.
ZSD is a modern company, which attaches great importance to improving the quality of offered services. That is why it wanted to implement an IT solution which would improve the process of reading data from electricity meters and enable efficient flow of Big Data, among other things. The company was also looking for a way to reduce costs and optimize the logistics of meters – from the moment of their delivery to implementation. Therefore, it decided to create the ZSD Mobile Application and invited eDocu, a company from the Asseco Group, to cooperate in this project.
The project began in March 2017 and assumed the development of a solution which would support both ZSD’s customers and the company’s processes. Its implementation was preceded by a very thorough analysis of the company’s needs, which allowed to precisely define the functionalities of the new solution.
The ZSD Mobile Application designed by eDocu consists of two parts. The first is intended for end users and allows them to use electricity efficiently. Thanks to the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, the application makes it possible for customers to perform meter readings on their own. They only need to scan the digits and the application passes on the collected data to the distributor, where they are verified and sent to the energy supplier. An invoice is issued on this basis. This eliminates the need for a personal visit by the customer, who can also monitor energy consumption through the application on clear graphs in weekly, monthly or annual cycles.
The second part of the application is responsible for the improvement of internal processes of ZSD. The implementation of the solution has provided the possibility of monitoring the entire logistics process of electricity meters. The company has also obtained full data on their location.
The entire back-end and service infrastructure runs on the general eDocu system. The application has also been integrated with the internal SAP system, which helps to collect all the relevant data. Both parts have been adapted to the customers’ needs, in accordance with their requirements and internal processes.
It was the first implementation of this solution carried out by eDocu and at the same time the first client of the company in this sector. The mobile application was made available free of charge in September 2018, thanks to which it is already be used by about 1 million ZSD’s customers from the Western Slovakia region. Approximately 6 eDocu’s experts took part in the project – they responded to the client’s needs and suggestions on an ongoing basis. Currently eDocu is working on the extensions of the application for entrepreneurs and large customers.
The implementation of the application has helped to reduce the costs associated with meter reading, which previously had to be performed manually by ZSD’s staff at each point of electricity consumption. It has also streamlined internal processes and provided quick access to data, which has improved the efficiency of settlements and enabled the accurate analysis of potential irregularities or fraud.
The ZSD Mobile Application has made it possible for electricity consumers to read meter readings on their own and monitor their current electricity consumption. As a result, they can compare when the consumption level is the highest and assess whether they use electricity optimally at home. They can get estimates of future consumption or activate notifications on daily and monthly overruns specified in the contract. The use of this information can contribute to additional savings and lower bills.
The implementation of the application helped to reduce the costs associated with meter-reading which previously had to be done manually.
The implementation of the application has significantly improved the communication with ZSD’s customers, who can easily contact the company or report a shortage in the electricity distribution network, among others. They have also gained the access to up-to-date information on possible downtime or failures in the electricity distribution network. In addition, they can find a qualified electrician or contact ZSD via the app.
Thanks to the application, customers have also obtained all the necessary information concerning contracts and invoices, among others. They have also saved time because they have become the administrator of their own data and can quickly update details, for example on their address, through the app.
Deep analysis of customer needs.
Back-end software development.
Integration with other systems.
App’s release at AppStore and Google Play.
Orange Polska is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE) and is part of the Orange Group, a leading provider of telecommunications services in Poland, Europe and worldwide. Orange Polska provides mobile and fixed-line telecommunications services, including voice connections, message and content transmission services, Internet access and television. In addition, it provides ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services, leased lines and data transmission services, as well as sales of telecommunications equipment, electricity trading and the development of telecommunication infrastructure.
In Poland, Orange is leader in the fixed telephony, Internet and data transmission markets. It is the only unique operator offering comprehensive telecommunications solutions available nationwide. Orange aims to provide the highest customer satisfaction and remain the most chosen provider of telecommunications, multimedia and entertainment services which use modern technologies.
Orange provides fixed telephony services to approximately 3.5 million subscribers based on two different technologies: TDM – i.e. via traditional digital switching systems and by modern VoIP – telephony based on the SIP protocol. Orange wanted to improve cooperation of these two systems to provide smooth communication between them. To achieve this goal, the existing solution had to be replaced with a newer, more reliable, efficient and cost effective system. The implementation of this project, which also allowed for the reduction of operating costs (OPEX), was associated with a very significant challenge – the implementation of a completely new, critical system into the backbone network operator. The key factor regarding Orange’s choice was finding a proven and reliable vendor who had the competence, necessary capabilities, experience and engagement to successfully complete this demanding project. This was the reason Orange Polska decided to implement Asseco Media Gateway Control Function (Asseco MGCF), Asseco proprietary solution.
Asseco MGCF completely replaced the existing platform, becoming one of the most critical systems for maintaining the continuity of core fixed-line Orange services in Poland.
The main project goal, which began in November 2016, was to ensure the continuity of long-term services of Orange’s fixed network core in all of Poland. This was achieved by ensuring cooperation between VoIP and TDM – two areas of the network which are significantly different in terms of basic technology. Asseco MGCF replaced the existing platform completely and became one of the most critical system for maintaining the continuity of Orange’s fixed-line services in Poland.
Asseco MGCF was built in JAVA language according to the JSLEE standard and operates within the JBoss application server. The system is responsible for the conversion of signaling between VoIP and TDM networks for SIP and ISUP protocols. It has mechanisms for configuring protocol cooperation and filters, which are important for handling the vast amount of traffic coming from other telecommunications networks.
The MGCF system implemented by Asseco provides Orange Polska with the following functionalities:
- connections handling in SIP-ISUP, ISUP-SIP relations, as a local exchange,
- connections handling in ISUP-ISUP relation, as a transit exchange,
- support for ISUP, SIP, MEGACO (h.248), MGCP, ENUM,
- support for number portability through communication in the ENUM protocol,
- cooperation protocol configurations and filters,
- handling several hundred new connections per second while maintaining many thousands of active connections.
The MGCF system in Orange Polska communicates:
- in the TDM network with international, transit and local telephone exchanges, via SS7 protocols in the SIGTRAN network (120 telephone exchanges of 4 types),
- in the VoIP/IMS network directly with the main Session Router/Controller elements operating within the New Border Infrastructure platform,
- with 16 Media Gateway (MGW) instances of three different types across Poland.
The introduction of Asseco’s product into the Orange backbone network was an enormous challenge for the project team. This was primarily due to the need to carry out a very large range of tests, as for one system. The aim was to confirm the compatibility of telecommunication protocols, starting with tests of cooperation with a wide range of the operator’s network equipment on through support scenarios involving handling various end services. This part of the project, which lasted for approximately one year, was carried out in the Orange laboratory and on the production network, and included:
- Approximately 2,000 protocol compliance scenarios performed by several teams of Orange experts. Their scope was highly diverse: from automatic telecommunications protocol testers to service handling scenarios for many different types of end equipment.
- approx. 2,000 scenarios implemented in the production environment included:
o tests of cooperation with all telephone exchanges carried out by teams all over Poland,
o interoperability and reliability tests with the SIGTRAN network,
o traffic tests handling at the border of availability of resources in a specific relation (handling of collisions, transfers, etc.).
As part of the project, Asseco and Orange’s team of experts integrated the new solution with other Orange systems, migrated domestic resources as well as ensured local and geo-redundancy.
This was one of the most technologically complex implementations carried out by Asseco for Orange Polska. Completed in January 2019, the project required tests and reconfiguration of 120 telephone exchanges of 4 types, which required the cooperation of personnel throughout Poland. At its peak, the project included about 90 specialists from Orange and more than 20 engineers from Asseco.
The main stages of the project included:
Approx. 8 months – design, development of basic system version.
Approx. 14 months – tests and system modifications.
Approx. 6 months – migration which took into account:
- physical resources of TDM throughout Poland,
- traffic at the point of contact with VoIP network,
- international, transit and domestic traffic in both relations,
- reliability tests in real traffic.
„The main objective of the MGCF project was to ensure the continuity of the fixed-line voice network services of Orange in Poland and at the same time increase the cost effectiveness of their provision. Replacing the existing solution with a new, much more efficient and economic system, allowed us to fully achieve this goal. Building a system from scratch connecting two worlds of different voice service technologies was a difficult and ambitious challenge. The teams of Orange Polska and Asseco can be proud of the results of their joint work on this project” – said Krzysztof Kaszewski, Head of the Network Development Department at Orange Polska.
„The new MGCF system enables our customers to make fixed-line calls and is much more efficient than the previous one. Its implementation has also significantly reduced operating costs, which translates into the OPEX ratio” – said Łukasz Trzos, Director of Convergent Network Development at Orange Polska.
The new system implementation allowed to reduce platform maintenance costs significantly and provide long-term support. The solution not only met the high requirements of this large telecommunications operator such as reliability and efficiency of connection handling, but the new system also proved to be more flexible, efficient and scalable than before.
The system is fully adaptable to further development, which significantly shortens the time to market for introducing modifications to protocol cooperation and callflows algorithms, which may be necessary e.g. for launching access to new inter-operator connections or transit services.
An additional advantage is the proprietary architecture of the solution, which allows for its further expansion and makes it possible for the telecom to become independent of outside software and hardware manufacturers. Due to the deployment of Asseco MGCF, Orange Polska has a scalable and efficient system in a suitably matched license model, which does not require, among others, operating licenses or product licenses of third parties.
„It was a ground-breaking project for Asseco as we created a solution for Orange which operates in the main part of the backbone network and is responsible for the ability to provide basic telephone services. This means that the solution provided must work with the right efficiency, performance and reliability. It is the only element of this type in the fixed part of the Orange network responsible for communication between the IMS and TDM network areas, both at the domestic and international level” – said Maciej Kogut, Head of the Networks and Mobile Services Area at the Telecommunications and Media Division, Asseco Poland.
„The implementation of Asseco MCGF in Orange Polska was an unprecedented challenge for the Telecommunications and Media Division project team. Moreover, besides telecommunication protocols implementation, we faced a distinctive and demanding way of verification and deployment for provided solution. Despite the project’s challenges, the long-standing cooperation between Asseco and Orange Polska proved to be one of the key factors of success. We hope that the created Asseco MGCF product will meet market interest, especially from operators looking for alternative solutions for expensive and outdated systems” – said Radosław Semkło, Managing Director of the Telecommunications and Media Division, Asseco Poland.