Over the next few years, most communications service providers (CSPs) will find themselves in some state of network transformation as they look to reduce costs and migrate voice-centric TDM technology to IP-based voice/video/data equipment.

Driving this transformation is the expensive reality of running multiple networks. CSPs often expend valuable resources—particularly capital and operating expenses—to support and maintain outdated, legacy networks that serve fewer and fewer customers. These expenses can quickly add up and engineering resources become stretched, while CSPs would rather invest their time, money and personnel on new, next-generation network initiatives.

Before sunsetting those old networks and decommissioning circuits and switches, there are several things that every CSP should know.

#1. Clean your data before you clean out circuits.

CSPs can save money by decommissioning unneeded circuits, but identifying which circuits are eligible for disconnect can be a challenge. A circuit inventory audit can help identify all leased or owned circuits—some of which may have been previously hidden or lost through poor inventory control—and start CSPs on the path to savings. To do this, however, CSPs need to first consolidate and clean their inventory data to identify those unnecessary circuits.

#2. When you start your transformation, start small.

CSPs should begin their initial transformation in a smaller market where they’ll have the opportunity to test their plan and minimize the impact of any unexpected events. As they build up their own best practices with more experience, CSPs can leverage that experience with transformations in larger markets.

#3. Don’t pull the plug too soon.

When decommissioning circuits, CSPs should pay attention to the expiration date on their interconnect agreements. Disconnecting a circuit that expires in the distant future can result in high termination fees. Instead, CSPs should disconnect those circuits that will expire soon and continue to get value from those that expire later.

#4. Align your network transformation with customer demand.

Many CSPs tend to get into “technology tunnel vision,” focusing on the equipment they’re replacing and losing sight of the customers they’re serving. When planning an IP network transformation, CSPs should begin with those customers who are most likely to pay a premium for the new IP-enabled services, as this will lead to a higher initial return on investment.

#5. Minimize order fallout.

Network transformation drives movement as CSPs migrate customers to the targeted network and onboard new customers. Unfortunately, movement opens the door to order fallout and delays. By minimizing order fallout, CSPs can accelerate order completion time, speed the time to savings and generate additional revenue.

To learn more about how to navigate network transformation intelligently and efficiently, download Neustar’s free eBook, “Network Transformation: A Guide to Planning Your Journey to All-IP.”