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GTL

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Teledata

Tele Data

Mobile Subscribers Yearwise comparision

Business Benefits: Operators align their OSS/BSS set-ups with customer needs

January 12, 2016

The Indian telecom industry recently achieved a major milestone as the number of telecom subscribers crossed the 1 billion mark. The journey to this landmark has been characterised with a number of changes in the telecom sector in terms of growth drivers, customer needs and demands, service offerings, and operational and financial business models. The sector’s evolving dynamics have compelled operators to revisit their business and operational strategies over the years. A key change is being seen in the deployment and upgradation trends of operations support systems/business support systems (OSS/BSS) to cater to the growing and increasingly demanding customer base in a better manner. With data currently outperforming voice and emerging as the industry’s new growth driver, operators are overhauling their existing OSS/BSS set-ups.

Converged and real-time billing of multiple services is a key requirement of Indian operators, who continue to have a strong prepaid customer base. OSS/BSS help in centralising customer support and automating call centre activities and order management. They also assist in developing preferential pricing plans. With the growth of next-generation technologies, it is becoming extremely difficult for operators to deal with data usage and network management without enlisting any specialised help. Consequently, there is a growing need for managed services in terms of OSS/BSS.

Vendors have also started revamping their product and service offerings by coming up with customised solutions for operators. They are taking charge of an operator’s entire OSS/BSS environment and helping in data monetisation through mobile convergence. Enhancing network efficiency, resolving customer issues and improving the time-to-market are the main focus areas in OSS/BSS. Customer segmentation, event-based billing, converged services, community care, and customer experience are the other crucial growth drivers in the market.

Operator status

The OSS/BSS segment not only contributes significantly to an operator’s business growth but is also vital for ensuring uninterrupted services. It supports network processes like maintenance of network inventory, service provision, configuring network components and fault management. It also drives network management systems and service delivery and fulfilment, including network inventory, activation, and provisioning and service assurance. OSS/BSS even help in customer support operations like the processing of orders and bills, payment collection and business intelligence. Widely used OSS/ BSS structures include customer relationship management (CRM), order management, business transformation and application maintenance services, network management, field service management, value-added services and billing.

India’s OSS/BSS market is highly fragmented and comprises over a hundred players offering specialised services and mainly catering to niche segments. The entry of global majors like Ericsson on account of business diversification or the acquisition of smaller players has prompted competition in the segment.

At present, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Uninor and Aircel are deploying Ericsson’s mobile broadband charging solutions. In 2014, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) awarded a three-year OSS deal worth $10 million to Ericsson.

Bharti Airtel has also joined hands with Nokia Networks for deploying a cloud-ready virtualised OSS as part of a larger 3G network roll-out contract for eight circles; the contract is valid for four years. In May 2015, Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel awarded OSS/BSS contracts worth Rs 1.1 billion to Comptel Corporation. Idea signed a Rs 760.7 million multi-year contract for the software licences for Comptel Convergent Mediation and Comptel Provisioning and Activation products and associated support services. Meanwhile, Airtel awarded a three-year extension contract worth Rs 351.6 million for licence upgrades and service extensions for the same solutions and services. Apart from these operators, Comptel is providing its solutions to Vodafone India as well as Tata Teleservices Limited. It is also reported to be in discussions with RJIL.

Reliance Communications has deployed Amdocs’ customer management solutions to support its subscribers. Even Vodafone India has deployed an integrated Amdocs BSS platform to provide billing services to enterprise customers. This is part of a larger BSS transformation programme under which Vodafone India migrated all its post-paid customers to a consolidated Amdocs billing platform. The operator has also partnered with Redknee to deliver the benefits of real-time charging to its active prepaid and post-paid data subscribers at a pan-Indian level. It made this move to boost data adoption and enhance customer satisfaction. Vodafone will also use Redknee’s customer care solutions to provide advanced customer care and self-service on its website and smart devices.

Key trends and growth drivers

Convergent billing: At present, users subscribe to all telecom services, like voice, data, internet, video, mobile commerce and multimedia, through the same operator channel. For instance, Airtel subscribers use its network for voice as well as data services. In such a scenario, users prefer to be charged through one invoice. OSS/BSS provide a consolidated view of the services that have been availed, which enables customer retention and the accurate evaluation of business metrics.

Real-time charging: The majority of Indian users fall in the prepaid category, which makes the process of delivering real-time services an extremely complex affair. In this regard, OSS/BSS play a crucial role.

Customisation: There is an increasing demand for customised OSS/BSS software, particularly in critical systems like CRM, convergent billing and revenue assurance. To fulfil this demand, telecom operators have been adopting a customer-centric approach.

Managed services: OSS/BSS implementation and maintenance requires a trained workforce. Therefore, most operators are now outsourcing these functions to managed service providers (MSPs). Operators rely on service partners to help them manage their networks, which are a hybrid of existing legacy networks and virtualised networks of the future. Adopting the MSP approach and outsourcing critical functions to specialised companies has proved beneficial for them in the past as well. In the OSS/BSS space, too, the MSP approach is expected to bring gains by allowing operators to focus on their core competencies. In a typical outsourcing set-up, OSS/BSS management is regulated by service level agreements. This enables the efficient implementation of end-to-end operational improvements. However, the MSP should have extensive IT-centric and telecom-specific expertise.

Impact of 3G/4G services: With the introduction of next-generation services, operators need to support a richer portfolio of data applications and digital services, which requires the upgradation of OSS/BSS. They also need to deal with increased complexity in the areas of authentication, network management and hand-offs. The upgraded versions of OSS/BSS, which are more agile and flexible, can bring in more efficiency into business processes.

SaaS in OSS/BSS: The use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the OSS/BSS segment is set to grow due to the demand for complex service support and the need to recover investments in legacy systems. The trend will gain traction as enterprises deploy cloud systems to reduce their capex and opex. However, latency and security issues will need to be addressed before these services are widely adopted.

Conclusion

The strategic importance of OSS/BSS solutions for Indian operators has grown considerably with the proliferation of mobiles and data services. They have enhanced their OSS/BSS capabilities in a bid to align themselves with changing market conditions while fulfilling their growth aspirations.

Going forward, as competition in the data segment heats up, advanced OSS/BSS will play a vital role in operator strategies for retaining customer loyalty. The industry is set to witness increased deployment of solutions that will help service providers optimise network capabilities and monetise network investments.

 
 

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