The global telecom landscape has witnessed significant changes in the past few years with operator revenues now being driven primarily by data instead of voice. The substantial increase in data traffic in global markets, especially in emerging markets like China and India, has resulted in the continuous modification and upgradation of operators’ existing operation support systems (OSS)/business support systems (BSS) to monetise the increased data usage. Moreover, the advent of advanced technologies such as long term evolution (LTE) has increased the complexity in operations and billing, necessitating the adoption of advanced OSS/BSS solutions in order to score well on service quality and achieve sustained revenue growth.

According to Transparency Market Re­search, the global OSS/BSS market was worth $29.11 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow to $70.97 billion by 2024. The increased adoption of convergent billing technologies is also supporting the growth of the OSS/BSS market. On the policy front, stringent telecom laws, mandating operators to improve their quality of service have compelled them to adopt efficient OSS/BSS solutions.

Global OSS/BSS market trends

The global BSS market, which has hitherto been driven mainly by the customer management solutions segment, is now being driven by the revenue management segment, with the latter expected to surpass the former’s market share by 2024. This can be attributed to the consistent fall in operators’ average revenue per user (ARPU) and the growing requirement for investments in advanced technologies.

On the global OSS front, the service assurance market segment is expected to dominate the market by 2024, followed by the service fulfilment solutions segment. Newly implemented laws and more stringent regulations on quality standards by several telecom regulators across the world are aiding growth in these two segments.

Driven by the need for greater business agility, faster deployment and scalability, and reduced ownership costs, an increasing number of vendors are moving their OSS/ BSS platforms to the cloud. More­over, the rising awareness about cloud OSS/BSS among communication service providers (CSPs) is also fuelling the demand for such solutions. As per industry estimates, the cloud OSS/BSS market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.3 per cent, from $11.67 billion in 2017 to $21.77 billion in 2022.

The adoption of cloud-based OSS/ BSS solutions is also helping telecom operators achieve a seamless transition from the existing wireless networks to 4G LTE networks and going forward, will aid in the adoption of 5G as well.

Cloud-based BSS models are enabling CSPs to focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Cloud solutions help SMEs to improve their resource management, making their businesses agile and their information technology infrastructure scalable. Cloud-based BSS can also help overcome the complexities involved in the installation of hardware and the management of licences.

Meanwhile, the demand for ­customi­sed OSS/BSS is expected to grow considerably as telecom operators ­continue to attempt to differentiate their services from each other and attract customers through bundled services and product packages. The demand for convergent billing solutions will also expand the customised OSS/BSS market.

Key players

The OSS/BSS market is characterised by low entry barriers, which could make it intensely competitive and dynamic. However, currently, only a small number of players hold the majority share of the ­global OSS/BSS market. As per Transparency Market Research, the top five global OSS/BSS players account for roughly 40 per cent of the market.

Of late, the market has been ­under­­going a paradigm shift, with a ­number of players forming alliances with ­telecom operators to gain a competitive edge. Mean­­­while, several companies are also offe­­ring next-generation OSS/BSS solutions equipped with service delivery ­plat­forms to stay ahead of the competition.

Region-wise trends

North America was the leading OSS/BSS market in 2015, accounting for around one-third of the global market revenue, as per Transparency Market Research. The BSS market itself was worth $12.38 billion in North America in 2015. The dominance of this region in the OSS/BSS segment can be attributed to its growing number of telecom and mobile network operators. Favourable government regulations have also facilitated growth in the OSS/BSS market in North America.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, the network monitoring and design segments have experienced increased demand across the Asia-Pacific (APAC), Middle East and Africa, and South America regions. This can be attributed to the expansion of communication infrastructure across these developing regions.

Going forward, the OSS/BSS market in the APAC region is expected to witness significant revenue growth and intensified competition. The rising demand for mo­bile internet services, largely by the sizeable youth population, as well as decreasing voice ARPUs, the roll-out of augmented and improved networks, and the adoption of new technologies such as convergent billing are likely to drive this growth. Meanwhile, OSS/BSS pros­pects in Europe also look positive owing to the rising demand for billing and revenue management services, and the increase in the number of subscribers.

Issues and challenges with legacy OSS/BSS platforms

Telecom operators face a number of challenges with legacy OSS/BSS platforms as the sector grows both in terms of size as well as technological requirements. Earlier, the platforms were designed to function in a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint manner, thereby making uniform service delivery across devices difficult. However, with users now using multiple mobility devices over multiple networks, seamless deployment of services over different ­networks and interfaces has become ­difficult. Legacy OSS/BSS ­plat­­for­ms do not support user self-service features, which prevents the minimisation of opex and capex. Moreover, the lack of automation leaves scope for errors.

The way forward

With technological advancements and the deployment of next-generation networks, it has become imperative for telecom ­operators to adopt more efficient OSS/BSS platforms. Moreover, in light of the ­consistently decreasing ARPUs and voice be­coming effectively free in some parts of the world, operators need to deploy ad­vanced revenue management solutions in order to effectively leverage the growth in customers’ data usage. At the same time, the adoption of OSS/BSS presents an avenue for product differentiation, ­en­ab­l­ing­ operators to compete on service ­quality in addition to price.