Top 5 business benefits of digital transformation for telecom

Top 5 business benefits of digital transformation for telecom

Top 5 business benefits of digital transformation for telecom

 

May 06, 2021

 

 

Introduction

With declining revenues from traditional services, the growing threat of OTT players, and customers swiftly embracing a more digital lifestyle, operators need to keep reinventing themselves by offering new and differentiated services to their customers. Digital transformation is key to this reinvention, which means the ability to offer advanced services through delivery channels preferred by customers. Plus, it enables operators to improve efficiency by streamlining their business processes, further improving revenue through reduced operational costs.

Digital transformation is a massive undertaking for any telco, demanding considerable investment, in terms of resources, time, and of course, money. Often, it takes years for an operator to transform their infrastructure and processes. What decides the success of this undertaking is knowing where to begin and investing in key focal points that will bring visible changes to the network.

In our experience of facilitating network modernization projects around the globe, we’ve found that telcos gain immediate benefits after a successful BSS transformation, even when they choose to roll out in phases and reinvest as they derive ROI.

Top five benefits of digital transformation

In planning a digital transformation, make sure the solution you deploy will produce these benefits:

Transforming the customer experience

Digital transformation means enabling a digital lifestyle through a host of next-generation services, including the advancement to 5G. From smart homes, smart buildings and cities, to autonomous vehicles and industrial IoT applications in manufacturing, telcos will be able to harness the full monetization potential of the next-gen network through unique and differentiated services.

In addition to improving CX by supporting advanced service offerings, digital transformation is also meant to enhance customer relationship management through increased engagement, more cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, consistently evolving offerings to keep pace with changing customer needs, and ensuring swift and seamless issue resolution.

A modern BSS transformation includes CX-focused features such as:

  • digital CRM to serve as a unified 360-degree platform to manage all customer interactions
  • digitized customer journeys, including digital onboarding, electronic KYC, and more
  • interactive omnichannel self-care with integrated chatbots for social media platforms to ensure your customers can engage with you 24x7x365, making them self-reliant to solve problems quickly and efficiently, and granting more control over their accounts
  • personalized and innovative rewards programs to build customer loyalty and brand differentiation throughout the customer life cycle
  • contextual plans for different customer segments based on their location, usage needs, and more

Accurate data-driven insights

One of the key benefits of digital transformation is gaining access to key data insights to continually measure the pulse of your customers and modify not only plans and offerings, but also your long-term business strategies and goals. Effectively using Business Intelligence (BI) insights improve ROI and revenue.

A next-gen digital BSS platform provides granular and customizable reports for advanced customer segmentation. Using the data from these reports, you can create personalized and relevant offerings, improve plan pricing, and build loyalty.

Further, these insights help in creating targeted advertising to not only promote your own offerings but also for third-party sponsorship opportunities.

Innovations due to collaborations/partnerships

How does digital transformation help keep pace with competition from OTT services such as social media and chat platforms? Customers have far more engagement with these platforms as compared to traditional service providers, and digital transformation helps up the customer relationship game by forging cross-industry partnerships for a host of OTT services that directly engage the customer.

Network modernization solutions enable these services to be integrated with the telco’s offerings, meaning that the telco can ensure end-to-end management of the services by maintaining control over them and providing a holistic customer experience.

Transforming your network means creating new revenue streams by integrating a modern partner management solution that facilitates these partnerships while managing a large number of connections (think IoT ecosystem), massive amounts of data consumption, use cases requiring ultralow latency, and more. (For more on these partnerships as we move forward in the 5G era, read our blog, How partnerships are the key to 5G success for telcos.)

Agile and virtualized network environment

Digital transformation makes it possible to continually adapt to evolving market demands by responding swiftly with new and innovative services by creating an agile network environment. More agility means faster response time, helping telcos stay ahead of their competitors.

An agile network environment is virtualized, replacing traditional hardware through the implementation of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and employing a software-based approach to running various traditional network functions. Modern BSS transformation solutions are NFV-compliant and cloud-native, helping telcos reduce operational costs, improve agility, lower OPEX, reduce costs by avoiding constant and expensive hardware upgrades, and support various next-gen use cases even before they fully transition to 5G.

Earlier generations of networks, including 4G, did not serve as many use case demands as 5G. 5G caters to use cases that require more speed, latency, reliability, efficiency, throughput, and other needs. Catering to these dynamically changing needs, and handling more traffic load than ever before, demands a virtualized network environment.

Taking a cue from the enterprise success of agile virtualized environments, more and more telcos are moving towards a virtualized core network. With more standardization as well as network-agnostic software, modern deployments are more agile.

Automated processes and faster sales conversions

Automating workflows and processes helps reduce operator dependence on staff, lowers the risk of errors caused by manual intervention, and helps keep operational costs low.

Digital transformation integrates automation at all levels and in all processes. This includes automating sales processes to reduce workload, save time, and lower OPEX on creating workflows, sending emails, setting up alerts and notifications to track the sales pipeline, and more. It helps streamline the entire sales life cycle, centralizing all day-to-day operations, capturing leads, organizing customer databases, ensuring quotations are sent on time, interactions are prompt, and managing the sales pipeline. Here, too, leveraging data through the use of advanced analytics helps improve the sales process, forecast sales, identify the most lucrative lead sources, and more.

The result: improved sales conversions, both in terms of time and volumes.

How Alepo can help in your digital transformation journey

Alepo been instrumental in digitalizing telecom businesses around the globe has emerged as an industry-leading solution provider to drive revenue through network modernization and digital transformation projects. Its next-gen products and solutions are the result of ongoing R&D efforts to employ the latest technologies and meet dynamically changing market demands. Alepo’s 5G-ready Digital BSS along with its 5G Core and other cloud-native solutions helps CSPs constantly innovate their service offerings, facilitate business automation, accelerate network performance, drive profitability, and reduce costs on fixed and mobile broadband networks. Its 365x24x7 global technical assistance center (GTAC) further ensures that operators can maintain highly available networks, competitive differential advantage in their target market with timely feature enhancements, and a high customer satisfaction index with proactive network monitoring and quick issue resolution.

Looking to transform your service offerings, business processes, and customer experience? Drop us a message and we’ll get in touch.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Associate Director, Product Management

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 15 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

 

April 27, 2021

 

 

 

Why 5G demands new charging capabilities  

5G’s transformative features such as low latency, ultrafast speeds, and high bandwidth open a world of opportunities for consumer and industry applications. Its ability to support massive volumes – according to Statista, 50 billion internet of things (IoT) connected devices are expected to be in use by 2030 – also unlocks the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). An operator’s charging capabilities thus assume a pivotal role, ensuring all 5G services are fully monetizable using modern and advanced charging use cases.

The charging engines many operators use today were designed for networks like 3G and LTE. These previous generations did not have the network scalability and performance needs of 5G, and are unable to support the advanced monetization capabilities that 5G use cases require to accurately charge across a large number of services, devices, and different event types. This demands fundamental changes to the underlying monetization architecture, taking a service-based approach, much like the 5G core network itself.

How next-gen charging capabilities work

Implementing next-gen charging and policy control functions of the 5G core enables operators to truly harness the monetization potential of 5G. The Charging Function (CHF) enables operators to charge for everything, supporting models for multiple parties (for instance, B2B2X models), helps implement RESTful processes, and enables real-time charging on various types of events. The Policy Control Function (PCF) enables end-to-end policy management, implements slice-based policies for highly specific applications, supports innovation and enrichment through service exposure, and offers advanced analytics for improved services. 

In recent years, more and more operators have implemented converged charging for all their services, which is also part of the 3GPP Release 15 standard. The CHF has been functionally and architecturally restructured for 5G versus its legacy OCS counterpart. Supporting both online as well as offline charging, it is crucial to enabling 5G service providers to swiftly respond to evolving customer demands and introducing new and innovative services that can be charged. It implements network integrations that are formulated in keeping with service-based architecture, enabling next-gen monetization opportunities, employing cloud-based and containerized technology, enabling more automation, agility, flexibility, and minimizing revenue leaks.

Through network slicing, 5G operators can provide “slices” or smaller dedicated parts of their networks to customers, dedicating resources depending on the SLA to focus on speed, latency, capacity, and so on, supporting use cases such as smart buildings, smart offices, private campus networks, connected vehicles, and much more, all of which require charging support. Plus, 5G works on microservices-based infrastructure that helps deliver ultra-low latency, and to enable this, previously centralized charging components will now need to be more distributed and move closer to the network edge. So, 5G charging systems are required to support various new types of services like API calls, tiered QoS plans, edge computing capacity, and more. 

Modern and scalable convergent charging systems assume particular relevance for enterprises, enabling a gamut of new-age applications to help businesses differentiate themselves while swiftly unlocking these new revenue streamsIn the coming years, as 5G standalone deployments become more widespread, converged charging is expected to be more widely implemented.

5G charging use cases

5G supports a wide range of B2B, B2C, as well as B2B2X services, and thus demands charging use cases that help ensure zero revenue leakage across services. These include charging based on:

Slices

Network slicing is a key 5G use case and is integral to 5G charging. Most devices today have the same bandwidth and service levels, but network slicing creates new charging opportunities by enabling the segregation of network resources. Operators can provide slices to cater to a wide range of customer requirements, offering endless possibilities for revenue streams. Using flexible charging models, operators can monetize these slices for both direct consumers as well as the enterprise. Operators can offer various granular and personalized services to consumers on different slices. And for the enterprise customer, operators can offer models for different needs like IoT-connected devices and equipment, for its employees, its customers, special events, field tests and trials, and so on, for which unique policy and charging rules can be defined.

Network slices can be created based on various criteria, some of which include:

QoS tiers

Operators can charge subscribers based on the Quality of Service (QoS) they have signed up for. This is particularly relevant for industrial and enterprise applications, empowering the enterprise to define granular metrics such as latency, data rate, capacity, mobility, security, throughput, response time, level of service, and more.

SLA-based services

Network slices are designed to serve individual customer needs, for metrics including system capacity, user experience, energy consumption, coverage, latency, and more. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be defined based on the level of service a customer expects from each slice. 5G charging systems enable operators to dynamically scale pricing, define policy rules for specific devices, and much more, enabling them to offer more specific SLAs.

Platform use (PaaS)

Operators can build their own platforms and use open APIs to share and charge for their network and IT infrastructure with platform providers or developers who can use cloud infrastructure to deploy applications. The customer has control over the application, but the operator controls the underlying infrastructure.

Software use (SaaS)

In this case, the operator can charge for applications that it runs on the cloud and provides to consumers. The operator controls and manages both the infrastructure as well as the application and can charge on different events like time or usage.

Infrastructure use (IaaS)

Service providers can partner with enterprises to share their infrastructure and/or applications, granting the enterprise control over this infrastructure while charging for its use. This is especially useful for smaller enterprises who do not want to invest in their own infrastructure but are in need of a secure and private network. 

Digital ecosystems

Operators can set up digital ecosystems or marketplaces to provide a platform that connects producers and providers of goods and services with consumers, forging partnerships with these providers to monetize the service. Here, operators have the added advantage of having access to advanced data and analytics tools that help them segregate customers, run targeted campaigns, and more.

Real-time performance

5G’s ultrafast speeds, stable connectivity, and low latency enable real-time applications, including multimedia like augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming. Operators can define charging based on real-time performance for these applications.

Benefits of next-gen charging systems 

5G charging engines offer a host of benefits to operators, enabling them to swiftly adapt to dynamic market needs. Some of these include:

Handle advanced 5G use cases 

With the rapid increase in the number of devices connected to the network, 5G charging systems must handle an unprecedented amount of traffic and charge for the endless application possibilities of next-gen networks. 3GPP has defined a host of possibilities for the 5G charging ecosystem, introducing elements in the 5G core that are unavailable in legacy charging systems. The PCF serves as a unified platform to govern the implementation of policy and charging rules. The Session Management Function enables operators to seamlessly implement session charging between devices, so they can efficiently charge users when they use different devices for the same service, for instance, like watching a movie. And other network functions, such as the Network Exposure Function (NEF), Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF), and Network Slice Management, equip operators to gather essential device and location data, implement slice-based charging, enable multiple flexible charging scenarios, facilitate operators and enterprises to share session information, allow granular charging based on advanced analytics, and more.

Develop diverse partnerships

5G charging capabilities include support for multiple business partners on a single platform, enabling operators’ business and marketing teams to easily and dynamically forge innovative partnerships to monetize B2B2X, B2B, B2C, wholesale, and IoT services.

Enhance customer experience

By making a host of advanced use cases fully monetizable, 5G charging paves the way for innovation, boosting CX, improving brand differentiation, and ensuring customer loyalty.

High return on investment

Advanced charging helps open new revenue streams as well as secure the revenue potential of existing services, maximizing ROI.

Improve business agility

Operators can effortlessly launch new plans and promotions, automate transaction processing even for the most complex use cases, implement flexible data models that support complex account hierarchies for granular plans and services, and more. 

How Alepo can help 

Alepo supports advanced charging use cases through robust convergent charging and policy control network functions, both of which are part of the 5G-compliant Digital BSS product suite and Alepo’s 5G Core Network solution. Both can either be deployed as part of the new solution or integrated with any other vendor’s BSS, enabling you to preserve your existing network investments.

Legacy 4G/LTE environments are unable to support charging for 5G use cases, so the first step towards implementing advanced charging is ensuring you have a modern BSS and 5G Core infrastructure. As experts in this domain, Alepo can provide a host of deployment options to smoothly transition to 5G, including local, public, hybrid, 4G + 5G combo, and private models.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How a carrier-grade AAA optimizes the network

How a carrier-grade AAA optimizes the network

How a carrier-grade AAA optimizes the network

 

April 12, 2021

 

 

 

Introduction

Customer experience is the key differentiator for operators today, and while there are several other contributing factors such as automated support and digital engagement, one of the best ways to boost CX is by providing a superior network experience. Though often overlooked, successfully modernizing your network means recognizing the role of upgrading the AAA helps alleviate a host of challenges to boost network performance.

Key carrier-grade AAA features that optimize network performance

A modern and robust AAA and policy framework provides features that optimize network resource utilization and boost performance, even with dynamically changing traffic load. These include: 

High availability

A highly responsive AAA server with failover support helps maximize efficiency and ensure 99.999% availability for carrier-grade performance as the network grows.

Powerful scripting engine

A high-performing scripting engine ensures high performance and sub-millisecond latency, and enables operators to write and implement custom authentication and authorization rules in-house.

Noise management

AAA signaling noise is often produced on wireline networks by repeated authentication failures and errors. A robust AAA efficiently mitigates noise issues, instructing disturbing devices to take corrective measures, keeping network performance high. In addition, an intelligent system also enables service providers to easily identify and block malicious attempts to disturb or overburden the network.

Real-time policy control

A modern AAA lets service providers ensure zero revenue leakage, implement mid-session policy changes, deliver bandwidth on demand, and instantly communicate with customers.

Scalability

A stateless AAA stores sessions and data in a centralized database, ensuring that another AAA node takes over if one is down and enabling dynamic vertical as well as horizontal scaling without network downtime.

Rerouting and offloading traffic

A next-gen carrier-grade AAA enables service providers to alleviate network traffic by authenticating and authorizing mobile subscribers who connect from 3G, LTE, or 5G networks and seamlessly offloading them to services such as WiFi for calling or data sessions.

Emergency mode

The AAA can provide a fail-proof backup system to authenticate users if database connectivity is lost by automatically switching to emergency mode, helping prevent service disruption caused by single points of failure.

Automated service restoration

A AAA that enables rapid recovery from system failures or outages helps minimize strain on resources and optimize performance.

Web-based administrative portal

Operators can monitor and troubleshoot issues from a single interface. They can also automatically redirect customers to a self-care portal.

Interoperability

A carrier-grade AAA server that is interoperable with other networks lets operators deploy a multi-vendor network, not only lowering network costs but also boosting performance.

How Alepo AAA transformation optimizes networks

Ensuring a seamless migration is a major consideration for operators when undertaking a AAA transformation. Alepo provides a proven and scalable integration framework with provisioning support using API Gateway, ensuring a zero-downtime migration that does not impact existing integrations or IT systems. Alepo’s NFV-compliant AAA is stateless, enabling five-nines availability, and has an industry-leading benchmark of 36,000 transactions per second (TPS), supporting horizontal and vertical scaling. The highly stable system increases operational efficiency, with centralized monitoring to reduce on-ground staff dependence. Further, centralized configuration management minimizes errors by enabling operators to rapidly and easily configure changes across all AAA nodes. With automated workflows and web-based interfaces, Alepo’s carrier-grade AAA Server enables service providers to create, launch, deliver, and manage services within hours.

 

Begin your AAA transformation journey now: book a demo.

Gayatri Sarang

Gayatri Sarang

Lead Content and Engagement Specialist – Marketing

Gayatri is part of the content and communications brigade at Alepo. Having locked focus on the telecom domain in recent years, she has vast and diverse experience in writing for leading publications. She moonlights as a volunteer urban wildlife rehabber and is a passionate baker.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

 

April 8, 2021

 

 

Introduction

5G holds immense potential to transform virtually every industry with its ultrafast speeds, low latency, high bandwidth, and reliability. As healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, entertainment, and a host of other sectors eagerly await the application of next-gen use cases, the race is on for service providers to find the easiest path to rolling out and monetizing the next-gen technology, especially for their enterprise clients. Alepo’s Compact Core facilitates the support of enterprise deployments, particularly those looking for private networks, and it offers a host of flexible options depending on the operator’s unique business requirements.

Alepo’s Compact Core

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G or 5G NSA), and since they are dependent on the 4G core, they aren’t true end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is set to change that. All elements in the 5G-compliant Compact Core are pre-integrated, ensuring that enterprises can swiftly set up standalone 5G networks (5G SA) that are independent of the 4G core, while also supporting combo deployments over an existing 4G core.

The industrialized Compact Core solution enables service providers to support enterprise and industrial use cases for a small number of subscribers. A complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution, the Compact Core includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, working seamlessly with end devices and the radio access network without impacting or depending on external systems.

The solution comprises AuSF for Authentication, UDM for Authorization, a converged policy combo (PCF + PCRF), and Data Repository for Subscriber Data Management. It also includes an enterprise self-service portal for enterprises to import and efficiently manage all connected devices. (For more details on its features and benefits, read our blog, Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core.)

Compact Core Deployment Modes

Local deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G Core (5GC) is deployed on-premise over private cloud or standalone servers. The containerized 5G core network functions (NFs) are deployed on cloud-native infrastructure. It is a completely isolated system with no external inputs or outputs, and all data processing is completed and stored onsite.
  • High security with local control and no outside connection

  • Optimizes OPEX

  • One-box solution

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools

  • Manufacturing

  • Utilities

  • Public safety

  • Smart buildings

  • Education

Hybrid deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The User Plan Function (UPF) is deployed on the telco edge or enterprise premise, while the 5G core is deployed on private or public cloud at a centralized location. All devices are connected to a centralized server; the data payload dynamically changes depending on the edge location, helping ensure low latency.
  • Enables low-latency data connectivity

  • The UPF is connected to the 5G Core using a secured tunnel, ensuring failproof security

  • All 5GC NFs are deployed with a minimal resource footprint

  • Enables focus on data control and access, with dedicated communications only where needed

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools
  • V2X (vehicle to everything) tracking

  • Centralized and distributed campus networks

  • 5G network slicing

  • Logistics

Public cloud model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G core NFs are deployed on highly distributed public cloud infrastructure, enabling one or more geographic locations both within the operator’s premises as well as in other regions. Supports secure and reliable wireless infrastructure for industrial applications.
  • Reduces network management complexities and ongoing IT maintenance

  • Lowers CAPEX and deployment time

  • Simplifies deployments through automated orchestration and configuration

  • Helps efficiently manage traffic

  • Industrial IoT (IIoT)

  • Manufacturing automation

  • Events

  • 5G AR

  • Base station sites

  • Regional and/or national data centers for edge infrastructure

4G+5G combo model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    This converged offering for a joint 4G and 5G core supports containerized 4G+5G core NFs that are deployed over cloud-native infrastructure, with support for inter-RAT and intra-RAT mobility.
  • Can be deployed with or without N26 interworking support

  • A one-box solution

  • Helps optimize CAPEX and OPEX

  • Supports integrated EMS and PaaS tools for smooth operations and maintenance
  • Enterprises who want to support LTE from a 5G core

  • Network slicing

Business Benefits of Alepo’s Compact Core

Partnering with Alepo for the Compact Core offers a host of advantages for service providers:

  • The solution’s flexibility in deployment is unparalleled, ensuring a low resource footprint no matter what deployment mode an enterprise chooses. 
  • The Compact Core leverages cloud-native features to ensure hassle-free, automated, and cost-efficient operations that can be tailored for each enterprise’s unique business requirements.  
  • The plug-and-play capability enables enterprises to swiftly launch a private network, bundling in one solution a host of network offerings (broadband, voice, and more). The various open interfaces such as Radio Access Network (RAN) or core network can plug into the operator’s network for wide-area coverage. The solution enables the enterprise to support and control services (like edge computing) and facilitates network management using a network slice.
  • Alepo is an early mover in helping operators implement 5G technology, with many 5GC projects and compact cores deployed. As an end-to-end solutions provider, we leverage our many cross-industry partnerships, build cybersecurity plans, and ensure regulatory compliance in your region of operations, enabling you to realize your operational and business goals so you can focus on helping your enterprise clients do that same.

 

Begin your next-gen journey today by booking a demo with our 5G solution experts.

Prathamesh Malushte

Prathamesh Malushte

Principal Solution Architect

Prathamesh is a PDM and solution integration specialist with expertise in 5G core network functions and protocols. He specializes in creating user stories, call flows, and designs for 5GC as well as legacy networks, as well as in handling OSS/BSS intricacies. After hours, he loves sports, enjoys trekking, and is passionate about playing different musical instruments.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How the AAA server ensures security in telecom networks

How the AAA server ensures security in telecom networks

How the AAA server ensures security in telecom networks

April 5, 2021

Introduction

In 2020, around 22 billion internet of things (IoT) connected devices were in use worldwide, a number that’s expected to reach 50 billion by 2030, according to Statista. As networks become more complex and vast, configuring and controlling access to ensure security in the absence of Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) is virtually impossible. Put simply, AAA is one of the gatekeepers of the modern telecommunications network. And while we all know that it is integral to every network today, it deserves more credit than its usually given in ensuring the security of a modern network.

Device use continues to surge as 5G and the IoT ecosystem become more widespread. Plus, operators now offer more granular and contextual plans for different customers, as well as advanced billing and charging plans for an ever-increasing array of services. As the number of devices connected to a network as well as the services available to them proliferate, networks are more susceptible not only to accounting errors but also to security breaches and threats such as identity theft. AAA assumes a significant role in ensuring security for these dynamically changing network needs.

How AAA works

The AAA server does just as its name suggests: it authenticates or validates subscribers and their credentials, verifies what services and QoS each subscriber is authorized to access, and ensures proper accounting so that customers are accurately billed for the services they use.

Authentication

The first step in AAA security is Authentication. It serves as the first line of defense in protecting network resources against fraud and identity theft, employing multimodal authentication methods.

Whenever anyone tries to access the network, the job of the Authentication function is identifying whether they are meant to be granted access, and also ensuring that the user is in fact who they claim to be. It does so by ensuring the user enters valid credentials, such as username, password, biometrics, or any other security measures that have been implemented by the operator. These credentials are stored in the operator’s database, against which the Auth server verifies the input given by the user. This database is constantly updated and monitored by network and system administrators.

If the user’s credentials are valid, they are granted access. Those with fraudulent or erroneous credentials are denied access. All network use of verified users is monitored and logged for future reference.

Authorization

Once authenticated, the next step for the AAA is determining what policies apply to the user. These policies will govern the user’s authorization levels, defining what resources, services, and QoS the user can access.

AAA policies can be defined on a host of parameters, such as the time or day, the user’s location, how often they’ve logged in, how much bandwidth they’ve consumed, fair usage, and so on. These policies can also restrict certain actions, such as retrieving and/or changing passwords.

Accounting

The final step for the AAA server is to take stock of the network resources accessed by the user, such as data consumption and duration of their session.

These usage details serve two purposes. One, they ensure the user is accurately invoiced for their consumption. Another important aspect of accounting is to enable administrators to access audit logs to review how and by whom the network was accessed. This usage data is useful to gain valuable insights into customer behavior, usage patterns, and more. These business intelligence (BI) insights help operators create more contextual offerings and enable them to anticipate network use.

Benefits of AAA security

AAA offers a host of technical benefits for operators in implementing network security:

  • AAA forms a multi-layered security barrier to secure, measure, and monitor how the network is accessed and by whom, thwarting malicious attempts by cybercriminals to steal and misuse data.
  • As cases of data breaches such as identity theft continue to increase, telecom AAA assumes a vital role in strengthening a telco’s data assets by enabling sound practices in identity and access management.
  • With AAA, controlling access does not require a statically configured network, pre-defined connectivity modes, fixed or immovable systems, or even fixed IP addresses by enabling operators to secure the network using more granular techniques such as integrating user directories to provide access to specific groups of users. This dynamic approach is especially relevant given the growing number of devices accessing the network through various means.
  • It grants operators more control and flexibility in configuring network access, and also lets operators implement multiple standardized authentication methods.
  • It employs several back-up systems to ensure redundancy if one security server is down or there is excessive network congestion.
  • A centralized security database grants specific access to each user using their unique credentials, enabling easy and swift access termination for inactive or banned users.

How Alepo AAA can help mitigate network risks

Alepo’s modern and scalable AAA Server enables flexible configuration and control over how network resources are used. It provides failsafe systems to ensure that there are no lapses in security even during network outages.

The NFV- and 5G-compliant AAA overcomes the previous limitations of physical hardware. With its evolved architecture, Alepo’s future-proof virtualized AAA (vAAA) helps operators optimize infrastructural resources and ensure the network remains secure even when traffic increases. (Also read the whitepaper: The Evolution of AAA Infrastructure For NFVi Compliance.)

The stateless AAA stores sessions and application states in a centralized database, distributing the transaction load for faster response times while ensuring high levels of security.

The dual-stack AAA supports RADIUS and Diameter protocols for full convergence, enabling a single system to enable secure access to services across all networks (fixed, wireless, and mobile). This includes modern services such as IoT, WiFi calling and offload, and more.

With five-nines availability, Alepo AAA Server ensures network performance is always high while keeping the network safe from external security threats.

Alepo has regarded AAA as a crucial network function and has been at the forefront of AAA innovation from its inception. Today, Alepo AAA Server is at the heart of operations for some of the largest telcos in the world, with millions of subscribers benefiting from its capabilities. The cutting-edge solution is high-performance, self-healing, open (via REST and API gateway), and highly configurable, serving diverse use cases. Its AAA Transformation enables even large operators to seamlessly replace the core network functionality without impacting existing systems, ensuring transparent integration with other core components such as BSS and CRM.

Gayatri Sarang

Gayatri Sarang

Lead Content and Engagement Specialist – Marketing

Gayatri is part of the content and communications brigade at Alepo. Having locked focus on the telecom domain in recent years, she has vast and diverse experience in writing for leading publications. She moonlights as a volunteer urban wildlife rehabber and is a passionate baker.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

18th of March 2021

An introduction to 5G service-based architecture

5G brings transformational changes to the core network with a modular and cloud-native approach. One key advancement is that it upgrades the traditional telco architecture to Service-Based Architecture (SBA), enabling more flexible service development.

Introduced to improve the modularity of the network system, SBA lets network elements or network functions (NFs) in 5G communicate with each other over a service-based interface. It allows the decoupling of NFs with more precise functionalities. Each NF provides a set of services to another NF in the SBA. These NFs communicate with each other using a more open REST-based interface rather than traditional telco protocols such as Diameter.

What does this integral change in network architecture mean for telcos?

The SBA offers a host of benefits, including:

  • Deploys as containers orchestrated by Kubernetes, allowing the core to run on non-proprietary infrastructure
  • Lets new software vendors plug-and-play their NFs for a best of breeds approach
  • Enables network slicing, with dynamic and efficient resource utilization
  • Simplifies operations using application programming interface (APIs)
  • Leverages the use of harmonized protocols such as HTTP/2 and its well-developed security mechanisms
  • Facilitates seamless integration of third-party applications with the core network

SBA offers a host of benefits

How network functions communicate in SBA

Every NF in the SBA acts as a service producer and a service consumer for each NF. All NFs communicate with each other using one of two mechanisms:

  • Request-response mechanism: here, a consumer NF requests a producer NF for services over HTTP/2 request, and the producer NF complies.
  • Subscribe-notify mechanism: a consumer NF subscribes to certain events of the producer NF, and the producer NF notifies the consumer NF once the particular event occurs.

All of this communication is always completed using JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) objects.

The Network Repository Function – a standalone NF – acts as a unified NF repository and an internal mediator between NFs for operations such as discovery and status tracking of NF instances. For instance, if the Access and Mobility Function (AMF) wants to communicate with the Session Management Function (SMF) to establish a data session, and needs certain information about the SMF (including NF type, FQDN/IP address, endpoint information, services supported, and more) to ensure its communication with the SMF is seamless, it requests this information from the NRF. The NRF responds with the required data, facilitating smooth communication between the two.

The SBA provides an underlying REST-based stateless transaction framework for previously stateful services.

From the development standpoint, interfaces (APIs) for SBA are defined with Interface Definition Language (IDL). The interface definitions are written using YAML, and are language- and platform-independent, reducing development time and effort. They are utilized by the producer NF and consumer NF to ensure that communication between them is standardized and harmonized.

The full potential of 5G SBA

5G SBA allows any third-party application, referred by 3GPP as Application Function (AF), to interact with 5G NFs in a secured manner. Another NF – Network Exposure Function (NEF) – acts as a mediator for external communication. For example, the AF will subscribe to AMF events via NEF, the AMF will notify the NEF once the event occurs, and the NEF will then notify the AF. This is vital in enabling several next-gen use cases such as precise indoor navigation for complex buildings such as airports, train stations, hospitals, malls, trade shows, offices, industrial areas, and more.

A 5G standalone (5G-SA) network will leverage the full potential of service-based architecture, elevating the consumer’s mobile network experience while also opening a host of monetization and partnership opportunities for MNOs.

How Alepo can accelerate your 5G journey

With its vast experience in automation and digital transformation, Alepo designs advanced 5G Core and digital BSS solutions that ensure modern, flexible, secured, and operationally efficient deployments.

Alepo’s 5G Converged Core supports 4G, 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), as well as 5G SA deployments. Along with Alepo’s 5G core network functions, it provides key components of the 5G core, including subscriber data management, policy control and charging, AUSF, UDM+HSS, UDR, PCF+PCRF, and more.

The Converged Core employs cloud- and PaaS-agnostic microservices-based software architecture and supports flexible deployment models such as public, private, and hybrid. It also supports both containerized (using Docker) as well as VNF-based deployments, facilitating matured, integrated, and robust 5G implementation at the application, infrastructural, and process levels.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years building mobile apps for technologies like VR, AR, IoT, and is currently working on Alepo’s newest products. Always up to speed with the latest in the industry, Nitish is a voracious reader – and fervent writer – about all things related to tech and wireless standards. After hours, he wears a traveler’s hat, pursuing his love for photography as he explores different countries.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter