The Hardware Information Navigational Tool, or HINT, is an information web service developed by the former AG Communications Systems (now Alcatel-Lucent) which displays hardware and software characteristics of a central office switching system. It displays the hardware equipment as it is positioned in the central office and shows how this equipment is being used. The program displays an interactive map, allowing the user to select the applicable states/provinces or country, then select the switching system, and then finally the module, circuit pack, and circuit. The statistical reports allow customers to maintain a watch on their resources. It is also useful for engineering and the daunting task of assigning all of the various telephony services.
All telephone exchanges are customized to local conditions. Because of this, there exists a dynamic difference between one central office to another due to capacity, provided features, and hardware vintages. HINT started out as an internal resource used by GTD-5 EAX Engineering Services, Remote Technical Assistance, and Sales Support. It was created with the intent to accurately view a customer’s unique hardware configuration without physically being present at the site. Deciphering the switch’s own Office Dependent Data (ODD), it provided switching system hardware images that were accurate and up-to-date. Through internal feedback and subsequent modifications, it evolved into a tool that was viable enough to be offered as a product and sought after by customers.
Due to the similarities between the GTD-5 EAX and the 5ESS product lines, numerous requests were made by HINT users to develop and expand the scope of HINT so that it includes the 5ESS switching system. After hearing the same request for several years and realizing the revenue potential of adding the 5ESS, AG expanded HINT to include the 5ESS switch type, providing the same features, look, and feel that has made the GTD-5 EAX version so popular.
Presently, over 90% of GTD-5 EAX switching systems are supported and maintained by the customer using HINT. These users have been using the tool for several years and purchase the service as a yearly subscription subject to annual scrutiny and review. Because of this, the vendor is continuously upgrading and adding new features to excite interest and retain its customer base.
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