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Teledata

Tele Data

Mobile Subscribers Yearwise comparision

Streamlining Systems: Advanced OSS/BSS solutions to drive revenue growth

January 18, 2017

Telecom operators today are witnessing a paradigm shift in the technological landscape with communications services being redefined more frequently than ever. Every new technology is far more superior, but also more complex compared to the previous one. Further, the bandwidth promised by these newer technologies is regularly setting new benchmarks. At the same time, operators are grappling with challenges arising from diminishing profitability. In such a scenario, operators need to devise strategies to better monetise their existing investments as well as greenfield investments in the next-generation network roll-outs. There is also a need for putting in place the right revenue-generating infrastructure, which is dynamic and innovative and provides real-time flexibility and scalability. This calls for greater investments in operations support systems (OSS) / business support systems (BSS) for streamlining processes for billing, inv-entory management and customer relationship management.

Emerging trends in the OSS/BSS space

Over the past few years, there has been a growing demand for customised OSS/ BSS software, with telecom operators shifting from a product-centric model to a customer-centric one. This demand for custom-built software has also grown with operators offering bundled services to end-users including voice, video, data, hosting and messaging, and because of the fact that these have to be delivered in multiple locations spanning the consumers’ home, workplace or even while they are in transit.

Further, with the telecom market migrating from voice to data, operators’ challenges have increased, as the billing procedure for data services becomes more complex than that of voice services. This is because a customer uses several internet applications simultaneously, making billing a more complicated process as each URL might have to be billed separately. For instance, if a customer is to be billed for a certain amount of data usage for accessing an application, the system has to first track the time of the day the application was used. It also has to monitor whether the limit of data usage has been exhausted, as the user has to be charged for the additional usage. The process of tracking data usage and billing is also becoming more complex with the emergence of converged networks. Customers using multiple devices prefer to receive a single bill for the services they have subscribed to. In fact, a large number of customers are opting for shared plans. For instance, a subscriber using a certain volume of data would prefer to distribute it equally, across multiple devices like laptops, smartphones, iPads and IPTV services. Therefore, an OSS/BSS solution has to consider that billing is not done for an individual but for the entire household. This gives rise to a major challenge as each device has a different rate of communication and screen resolution. The OSS/BSS solutions have to ensure that content is billed the same way, irrespective of the medium of data consumption.

The emergence of 4G services has put an increased pressure on operators to better monetise their data consumption in order to justify their 4G investments. In addition, since 4G is capable of supporting multiple data applications and video, all wrapped within a voice call and at faster throughput speeds than previously installed network technologies, there is a need for sophisticated OSS/BSS solutions with real-time rating, core billing, partner management, customer notification and self-care functions.

Another trend that is being witnessed in the OSS/BSS space is that more operators are now outsourcing these functions to managed service providers (MSPs). Operators have traditionally relied on service partners to help them manage their networks, which are a hybrid of the existing legacy networks and the virtualised networks of the future. Adopting the MSP approach and outsourcing critical functions to specialised companies has proved beneficial to 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.

Further, the adoption of IP, packet-switched and content-driven telecom networks is leading to the creation of a new generation of OSS/BSS platforms, which are likely to deliver a better customer experience and also drive revenue growth. These platforms will support next-generation technologies like network function virtualisation/software defined networking to deliver services like VoIP high speed internet, unified communications, video-on-demand and digital applications.

Key challenges with legacy networks

Legacy OSS/BSS platforms come with challenges of their own as they are not equipped to support multiple programs. They were designed to work either in a point-to-point or at best in a point-to-multipoint fashion. Hence, with people using multiple mobility devices and platforms, OSS/BSS providers struggle with the ability to seamlessly deploy services to customers over different networks and interfaces. Legacy OSS/BSS platforms are unable to provide user self-service features that are crucial in reducing both operating expenditure and capital expenditure. The inability of eliminating human intervention means that the scope of day-to-day errors remains a potent issue to contend with.

Moreover, the transformation of the OSS/BSS stack from legacy systems is a very resource- and cost-intensive task. According to Vodafone India, telecom operators have an array of OSS products from multiple vendors. These products use different hardware and middleware, different upgrade cycles and management processes and these overheads come in the way of achieving economies of scale. The existence of proprietary interfaces to integrate with other systems or networks further restricts operators from implementing high availability solutions. Moreover, legacy OSS/BSS systems hinder the quick roll-out of new services as they need to be configured and tested rigorously, which is a costly process. This delays the launch of new services, thus challenging operators’ objective of gaining a quick market share and profits.

Cloud-based OSS/BSS solutions

The above challenges make it imperative for operators to deploy and invest in next-generation OSS/BSS platforms that can provide connectivity to the ever-growing consumer base as well as the growing line-up of business devices. Deploying OSS/BSS solutions over cloud platforms is one way of addressing several of these business and technical issues.

Cloud-based infrastructure provides the flexibility to scale up operations on demand and simplifies software upgrade procedures, considerably reducing costs. Moreover, it entails near-zero downtimes during upgrades. New versions can be deployed on virtual machines using the same physical hardware. After the software is tested, the network load can easily be redirected to the new virtual machines. There is no single point of failure as software can be configured on multiple virtual machines. Big data solutions and analytics for OSS/BSS are easily complemented by cloud, owing to its scalability. Further, the disaster recovery protection in the system is enhanced by multiple redundancies and security layers in the network, including firewalls, advanced intrusion detection and remediation.

Cloud-based OSS/BSS solutions assume even greater significance for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) as these solutions provide modular and deployment-ready processes and applications ideal for quick service launches. Further, cloud-based solutions come with pre-integrated capabilities such as billing and charging, ordering, service delivery and customer support. Moreover, with these solutions, MVNOs get real-time network interfaces that provide a single view of their subscribers from the device to the network across all lines of business, with the ability to rapidly launch new offers, promotions and service plans with unlimited service bundling potential. A comprehensive OSS/BSS solution can enable proactive and automated communications, allowing MVNOs to stay regularly in touch with subscribers through timely marketing offers, payment reminders and other notices.

A cloud-based OSS/BSS platform thus offers a “build-as-you-grow” and “pay-as-you-use” business model, which is ideal for new MVNOs. This kind of flexible and modular approach also enables MVNOs to deliver a highly personalised experience in which the mobile subscribers can self-configure their accounts as per the specific requirements.

Conclusion

As technology and consumer demand drive the launch of increasingly sophisticated and complex products and services, it becomes critical for service providers to bring the associated changes in their OSS/BSS platforms. To this end, cloud-based OSS/BSS solutions present a viable solution because they do away with operators’ need to commit money and resources for upgrading or replacing legacy hardware and software. Instead, they can deploy the best available technologies and practices through cloud-based OSS/BSS solution.

 
 

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