Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

 

28th of December 2020

 

 

2020 has been transformative for businesses around the world; years of digitalization happened within months and service providers were the backbone of this change. The pandemic has also compelled CSPs to rethink their operations and fasttrack their own digital transformation – a phase that has only just begun and will accelerate in 2021.

Operators will reinvent and focus more on customer-centric offerings to meet evolving demands with the work from anywhere culture and to be ready for new lockdowns on notice. AI, machine learning, and automation will facilitate telcos to modernize their network and help create personalized and contextual services. 5G has become a reality and new IoT applications and private 5G will come to fruition.

The increasing reliance on cloud services, digital communication, and digital payments, in addition to increasing network demand, also means added cybersecurity concerns for networks as well as their subscribers. 2020 saw significant hacks, and operators will continue to put in place more enhanced security measures to safeguard their own networks and their customers.

The top 5 trends to watch

5G proliferation

Luckily the pandemic didn’t slow 5G investment, with new network rollouts accelerating. 2020 saw devices like the iPhone12 and lower-priced 5G devices hitting the market, and the adoption is expected to be widespread in 2021. 5G operators will need to turn their attention towards providing a customer experience that’s as modern and advanced as the services it will accompany, as well as solutions for private 5G to facilitate the fourth industrial revolution.

Deloitte forecasts that private 5G deployment over the next five years will largely comprise three types of industries for which private 5G is the most natural choice, delivering unmatched security, low latency, high speed, network slicing for specific resource allocation, cost-efficiency, and flexibility that technologies such as 4G and LTE cannot. The first movers, they predict, will be ports, airports, and other logistics hubs, considering the nature of their operations that require controlling a vast network of equipment to manage heavy loads and tracking each consignment in real-time. Next, the forecast says, will be factories and warehouses looking to replace their existing combination of wired as well as wireless technologies with wireless private 5G networks that can handle high volumes of large and small devices, including everything from a screwdriver to massive industrial equipment. The third section of the market, the forecast says, will include greenfield deployments, especially in smart buildings and campuses, but also temporary sites such as music festivals.
And private 5G holds massive potential for service providers: an Analysys Mason report cites that of all existing and ongoing private 5G deployments, operators hold merely 16%, implying there is much scope for growth. While many large enterprises are considering deploying their own private 5G networks, operators have a competitive edge. Operator-licensed spectrum is currently the only deployment option available for private networks in many countries and is least likely to face interference. This, coupled with their expertise in building network infrastructure and managing operations, makes partnering with operators a reliable and cost-effective route to private 5G.

Internet of Behavior (IoB)

5G has ushered in a new generation of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of IoT devices will be even more widespread as 5G networks become more prevalent globally. We also know that this means that there will be more devices per person, and more devices mean more valuable customer data, for what can be called the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).

IoB means companies will take advantage of their access to increasingly sophisticated data and insights into customer behavior through technologies like big data, location tracking, and facial recognition. Gathering and analyzing this behavioral data helps boost CX by offering increasingly personalized and contextual services – over different channels depending on individual preferences. In addition to gauging demand, these detailed behavior insights will also enable operators to accelerate identifying and tackling service-related and other issues their customers may be facing.

The nature of data that is gathered and used will depend on local privacy laws and regulations in different countries, though often the responsibility will be on individual companies to define the comfort zone for what level of data gathering is acceptable for their customers, in other words, using the data to offer enough value-addition to customers to improve their relationship with the business, without overstepping moral bounds.

Cloud services

The digital shift of working from anywhere is compelling more telcos to invest in IT systems and infrastructure that can support the high volumes of data their networks are processing. Cloud computing is being embraced by telcos more and more as its benefits become known. Operating in the cloud reduces physical infrastructural requirements, lowers operational costs, and helps streamline processes. Further, it enables operators to leverage the full potential of their customer data, making it more easily accessible across the organization.

Among the different cloud computing scenarios, more telcos are likely to favor distributed cloud in 2021. Here, public cloud providers distribute cloud services to various physical locations. Telcos can choose locations close to them to enable low latency and lower costs while operating on the public cloud without having to invest in private cloud infrastructure.

And while telcos will increasingly invest in cloud computing, data volumes are continuing to increase by the minute; Gartner has estimated that by 2023, 43 billion IoT-enabled devices will be in use. Cloud computing falls short in offering enough latency to handle these growing data volumes and the advanced use cases that 5G supports. Telcos can supplement their capacity and support IoT infrastructure by implementing edge computing systems that will pre-process data that it gathers from its sources of origin.

Cybersecurity

The increasing dependence on digital connectivity has also meant that telcos need to account for added security threats to their networks as well as to customer devices, taking additional measures to secure customer data. Forbes reports that the pandemic has resulted in attacks on banks increasing 238 percent, and those on cloud servers increasing by 600 percent, and this is only between January and April 2020.

Telcos must account for the fact that more customers, individuals as well as enterprise clients, are working remotely, and need a security structure in place that safeguards them. This means that cybersecurity strategies, similar to those earlier provided to enterprises, will now be extended to home networks and on mobile devices.

Operators will increasingly employ sophisticated tools such as AI and machine learning techniques to filter out security threats, implement additional firewalls, use cloud and other services with more enhanced in-built security measures, and more.

Confidential computing is another important trend that we are likely to see in 2021, helping operators in ramping up data privacy, encrypting all computing, and adding layers of security around the sensitive customer as well as network data.

Digital payments

Contactless payments were already pervasive pre-pandemic and have since taken even greater strides, enabling secure payments while maintaining hygiene precautions in keeping with global social distancing norms. Forty-six percent of respondents in a global consumer study said they had opted for contactless payment options instead of their cards, and 82 percent view it as a cleaner way to make payments. In another survey conducted by Fiserv on payment methods people considered safest in preventing COVID-19 spread, 42 percent of respondents chose tap-and-pay credit cards and 24 percent chose mobile payments, with only six percent opting for cash. In fact, a report published by global consultancy A.T. Kearney says that we may have the first cashless society in just five years, running only on the card and digital payments.

2021 will mean service providers will introduce more advanced digital payment offerings. These technologies will help improve security through real-time detection and prevention of frauds and security breaches, provide instant round-the-clock-support to prevent payment delays and resolve disputes, automate processes for swift and seamless transactions, and utilize invaluable BI data and advanced analytics to create a more personalized customer experience. AI will also help in evaluating loan eligibility, putting in place rewards systems, optimizing sales and inventory management, and more.

Bring on 2021

2020 has arguably been one of the most mentally and physically challenging years in recent human history – a year that most of us want to move on from. And 2021 brings all the exciting opportunities we’ve been hoping for, especially with technology growing by leaps and bounds.

At Alepo, we’re proud to be building software in these transformative times to help businesses overcome their challenges. We’re thrilled at the prospect of partnering in your success, whether you’re planning to introduce any of our forecasted trends for the year, overhaul your network, introduce new services, or launch a new network. Reach out today to see how we can help you in your network’s journey to success.

Reach out today to see how we can help you in your network’s journey to success.

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.

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Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning private 5G success with Compact Core

 

8th of July 2020

 

 

 

5G is set to change the way large and small enterprises operate; from universities, ports, smart cities, factories, farms, and buildings, its use cases can meet all business needs. And the key network component that will enable all the unique features of 5G for these enterprises: Compact Core.

The Compact Core is an industrialized solution designed for enterprises that need carrier-grade network connectivity with a limited resource footprint to deliver services to their users. It is especially useful for those who want private network connectivity, whether it is over LTE or 5G. The deployment involves pre-integrated access and core network components for quick setup and less complex operations.

How the Compact Core benefits an enterprise

The Compact Core is a complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution that includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, which seamlessly works with end devices and the radio access network. It does not impact and is not dependent on external systems or organizations.

Swift deployment

In terms of time, Compact Core deployment is highly efficient. Enterprises can launch a private LTE or 5G network along with mobile broadband and voice services in a single project, saving on the time they would otherwise need to deploy these services individually. Since the solution is pre-integrated, no extensive development, customization, or testing is needed to go live.

Cloud-native benefits

The Compact Core is a modernized software solution that leverages the power of cloud, abstracting the underlying complex functionality. It is the smartest choice when upgrading from legacy telco infrastructure to modern, web-scale, 5G architecture. Capable of serving multiple enterprises, it uses SaaS-based multi-tenant architecture. Each tenant has a dedicated configuration, user management, and can self-service through web portals. This setup offers automated, cost-efficient, and hassle-free operations with dynamic provisioning of core capacity based on individual business requirements.

Flexible footprint

Whether the enterprise wants to deploy securely on-premise or on the public cloud, the modern compact core solution has a small resource footprint and flexibility of deployment modes. An in-memory database and ability to scale up and down sets it apart from legacy telco core solutions.

Role of Alepo’s Compact Core in private 5G enablement

Alepo is a software company that offers Subscriber Data Management and policy network functions for the Compact Core. It manages subscriber identities, service subscriptions, and is responsible for authentication, authorizing secure access to network services. It also includes the web-based Enterprise Self-Service (ESS) Portal that enables enterprises to self-manage SIM cards, end-to-end subscription and device lifecycles, and real-time connection and usage monitoring. Alepo’s pre-integrated partners bring the RAN, end devices, and other infrastructure needed to flip the switch and turn on the 5G network.

Ready for real 5G launch

The Compact Core equips an enterprise to launch its private LTE or 5G services. Essential services include enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), voice calls, and video calls. It can also include services such as push-to-talk or walkie-talkie. Further, users can get 5G benefits such as ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) for M2M and IoT applications.

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G). They are dependent on the 4G core and therefore are not end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is 5G-compliant. All elements are pre-integrated to rapidly enable enterprises to set up a new standalone 5G network with zero dependence on the 4G core.

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.

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Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

 

24th of June 2020

Evolution of the Mobile Network

According to a report from the GSMA, the number of fifth-generation (5G) users worldwide is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2025, which is 15 percent of the global total. 5G means a significant upgrade from the last generation of mobile networks. With its higher bandwidth, low-latency, and virtualization capabilities, it has unleashed a massive IoT ecosystem, and this is expected to rapidly boost the number of devices and users on the data network, making proper IT planning imperative. As the mobile network evolves, the AAA will play a key role in acting as a bridge between devices and networks, ensuring operators are able to maximize ROI on their 5G investment.

AAA Evolution

AAA is an important service and policy control framework, enabling CSPs to control how their subscribers access and consume data services over WiFi, FTTx, 5G, and other IP-based broadband networks. It touches a number of areas within the core network and back office, from security and provisioning to billing and, most significantly, customer experience.

Over a decade ago, the core functions of AAA were in line with dialup and, later on, DSL internet networks. Today, the ever-increasing need for improving customer experience, along with rapid growth in subscriber numbers and data usage, has placed new demands on AAA functionalities.

Diameter – the next-gen industry-standard protocol used to exchange authentication, authorization, and accounting information in LTE and IP Multimedia Systems (IMS) networks – provides a generic framework for exchanging AAA messages and defines a standard set of AAA request-and-response commands and attributes. Having evolved from RADIUS, it provides more reliable, secure, and flexible transport mechanisms for mobile data networks. It is used by LTE and IMS network functions, including the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), Home Subscriber Server (HSS), and Online Charging System (OCS) elements.

In modern networks where CSPs deliver services across multiple access networks such as fixed-mobile convergence (WiFi and mobile), the broadband network requires seamless user experience while accessing services. Within broadband networks, CSPs may have multiple types of network elements acting as service delivery points and policy enforcement points. In wireless networks such as 5G, the technology goal is to expand service capabilities in various industries using high-speed mobile broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), and virtualization by embracing key technologies like RESTful APIs. This ensures optimum performance, stateless and secured network functions (NFs), and a high level of quality of service (QoS) in the 5G Service Based Architecture (SBA).

The 5G SBA’s modular framework comprises components such as AuSF (Authentication Server Function), NEF (Network Exposure Function), NRF (NF Repository Function), PCF (Policy Control Function), NSSF (Network Slice Selection Function), and UDM (Unified Data Management), allowing deployment of diverse network services and applications. A robust AAA (like Alepo’s) facilitates seamless authentication for 5G network services, including authenticating and authorizing device access:

  • To enterprise slices by integrating with an enterprise AAA server
  • From non-3GPP networks such as WiFi and broadband

Top Ways AAA Can Help Telcos

Secure Access Control

The AAA server manages user profiles, holds access credentials, device identifiers, access policies, and so on. This helps enable various access control mechanisms such as barring access for blacklisted devices, allowing limited or walled-garden access. AAA helps implement corporate access control, allowing specific devices to offer connectivity to corporate network resources.

Revenue via Service Differentiation

AAA helps manage access profiles, data caps, time limits, and more, helping launch different bandwidth plans and implement data caps that are integral to driving revenue in broadband networks. Real-time usage monitoring helps control revenue leaks.

M2M/IoT Connectivity Management

Serving an important role in managing device connectivity for M2M or IoT networks, AAA holds device-specific network parameters that allow access to a specific enterprise network. It collects usage or event details from the network and helps identify device cell location and device online status, handles usage alerts, and pushes CDRs to the billing system to charge network usage.

Enhance Customer Experience

AAA helps push changes in service parameters and policies to different subscribers without disconnecting or resetting their connections. Operators can offer better customer experience through seamless session updates whenever a customer:

  • Purchases a turbo boost bandwidth speed
  • Surpasses their fair usage policies
  • Refills balance for a prepaid account

Monitor Usage and Notifications

While monitoring usage and notifications, AAA supports enforcement of fair usage policies on reaching the defined time- and volume-based cap. It also helps standardize customer experience based on usage levels.

Monetize WiFi Access

AAA assists businesses to unlock a new revenue stream using the WiFi hotspot business model. The AAA server helps:

  • Access time- and data-based passes
  • Enable location-based services and offers
  • Allow dynamic redirection to customized captive portals

Role of AAA in 5G-IoT Ecosystem

Authenticating Slice Access

5G and network slicing are often concurrently used, though network slicing is an architectural component that helps operators design and customize different slices that run on a common physical interface. Network slicing supports a multitude of use cases and new services through 5G and also establishes multi-vendor and multi-tenant network models using shared infrastructure. According to ABI Research, network slicing creates approximately US $66 billion additional value for telecom companies.

When a device requests connectivity for a specific slice, besides 5G network authentication, the enterprise or tenant may also want to authenticate the device. This is handled by AAA, which holds the profiles of devices that can connect to the enterprise slice.

5G Slice Authenication

Authorizing Data Connectivity

As a device attempts to connect an enterprise data network, such as a mobile device that accesses streaming services, or a drone camera trying to upload images to the data center, the enterprise or tenant may want to check the device requesting connectivity and restrict access to the network resource to certain devices. AAA authenticates the device, checks whether it is authorized to access the resource, and then provides the connection parameters such as IP address and QoS for data connectivity.

5G Slice Authenication

Multi-Service Access

Enterprise AAA plays a key role in connecting and authenticating devices to an enterprise network (slice), authorizing connectivity from non-LTE/5G networks such as WiFi and broadband. When the device tries to connect to 5G networks from non-LTE/5G networks such as WiFi, broadband, AAA plays an important role in authenticating the device, authorizing connectivity to the 5G core network function to allow seamless connectivity for mobile devices from non-5G networks.

5G Slice Authenication

Popular 5G-IoT Use Cases

Smart City

5G rollout will not only deliver high-speed connectivity globally but will facilitate the ability to handle massive network connections and unlock new life-enhancing services. Smart cities will integrate devices over 5G networks to build an intelligent city with smart traffic, smart homes, parking, waste management, public safety, and smart utility facilities. Coupled with enterprise IoT, AI, AR, and VR, 5G will offer maximum potential for service innovations in building smart cities, including use cases (slices) such as healthcare, drone, education, energy, and more. Additionally, use cases like connected vehicles, high streaming voice, and video transmission from crime sites, air pollution monitoring, and surgeries using AR and VR will further enhance lives.

Entertainment and Gaming

In both the entertainment and gaming fields, IoT solutions have played a major role in helping track emerging trends and consumer tastes in entertainment and giving users highly immersive gaming experiences. IoT caters to the entertainment industry’s three major needs: strong knowledge of the latest trends and user preferences, creating immersive content, and targeted ad campaigns. Today, users enjoy a whole new level of user-engaging visual content and gaming procedures with features such as:

  • Visible texts in the screenplay of video games
  • High-level 3D and reporting models
  • Content productions via AR and VR approach

Smart Home and Smart Building

IoT, combined with 5G-enabled tools and technologies, brings more control and efficiency to intelligent buildings and at home. These tools help control the connected home, comprising appliances, lighting, entertainment, safety, security, HVAC, temperature, energy management, and more from smart devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops over the WiFi network. Smart home solutions leverage connected and automated homes by enabling users to centrally manage all devices from one location and provide device-specific instructions at just one click. IoT-enabled or smart buildings with AI-driven analytics help restructure key aspects of commercial buildings: construction, habitation, and maintenance enhancing the quality of life of occupants and staff. Building automation 2.0 covers smart building solutions covering space management, asset management, cleanliness and hygiene management, and environmental monitoring.

Smart Manufacturing

5G gives manufacturers and telecom operators the greatest opportunity to collaborate and build smart manufacturing units. By truly exploiting automation, artificial intelligence, and industrial IoT (IIoT), manufacturers can change the game of their business and discover innovative ways to adopt industry 4.0 practices. 5G RAN, network slicing, cloud infrastructure, and real-time data collection through AI build a strong vision of fully connected and automated factories. Having broader access to greater amounts of data, this use case revolutionizes the production capabilities of the manufacturing units by enabling manufacturers to generate meaningful data, which can be further used to enhance digitalization, create new revenue streams, identify operational obstacles, optimize industrial processes, and save manufacturing costs. Smart manufacturing has the maximum scope to transform businesses with complex device communications and stringent, costly, time-consuming manual processes.

Steps To Create A Winning Deployment

Virtualization

Virtualization plays an important role in any product deployment as it helps automate product delivery by using the latest NFV technologies. It helps enhance performance as it monitors network resources and can scale and heal automatically. Virtualizing the core network can also bring the benefit of network slicing and customized use cases such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, entertainment, gaming, and remote healthcare. This helps build networks that boost performance, capacity, latency, security, reliability, and coverage of the application developed.

Open Standards

Standardization like 3GPP and REST APIs are the foundation on which different products and services are developed. They bridge the gap between work processes and deliverables to ensure performance and interoperability across the mobile supply chain. This helps eliminate vendor lock-in as it is always possible to get another vendor to deploy a solution that meets industry standards.

AAA Transformation

AAA Transformation helps CSPs streamline processes and reduce all of their ownership costs. With support for all access technologies, it equips them with a single platform to deliver AAA needs across broadband, mobile, WiFi, and M2M/IoT segments. Operators can boost performance and security by integrating multivendor legacy AAA deployments into a centralized cloud environment.

Digital BSS

A digital BSS stack helps CSPs deliver digital-first customer experience and automate business processes in both 5G and IoT deployments by upgrading their legacy BSS with a new 5G-ready stack. A modular BSS delivers a complete digital transformation that helps greenfield operators with full-stack deployment and replaces legacy systems that operate in a phased approach.

Conclusion

A high-performance and robust AAA Server integrated with 5G and IoT networks can be used for multiple use cases across various industrial sectors. It helps provide cost-saving network optimizations for end-to-end business processes. Advanced virtualized AAA solutions, combined with system integrations and data migration solutions, will deploy market-leading and cost-efficient services without affecting the current system or customer experience.

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.

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Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

 

14th of January 2020

As evidenced in countries where it has launched, 5G brings massive innovation potential but is challenging to monetize if its only unique offering is ultrafast speed. Many operators are aware that 5G success depends on their digital Business Support Systems (BSS) and bringing innovation to their own business models. A recent study by TM Forum reveals that 72% of CSPs believe 5G revenue growth is completely dependent on transforming their BSS and OSS. However, digital transformation is beneficial even before 5G is rolled out: a robust BSS stack enables implementing and monetizing key 5G use cases, such as OTT partnerships and new business models, on previous-gen networks.

5G networks are anticipated to deliver a transformational customer experience with improved speed, connectivity, network coverage, interoperability, and more. And this will be further enhanced with omnichannel support, which offers a highly personalized, consistent, seamless, and holistic view of the complete customer journey. Enabling faster speeds and connectivity, rapid service creation and monetization, and differentiated partnership models for new revenue streams will be a necessity for operators. Those ready with 5G Core (5GC) architecture before the 5G market matures will have a competitive edge. It provides a high-level of orchestration and automation with the use of a modular 5G service-based architecture (SBA) required to meet future challenges and business needs. An effective digital BSS helps to fully monetize this transformation and derive maximum ROI.

How digital BSS unlocks 5G potential

With limited features and rigid architecture, legacy BSS cannot keep up with the evolving demands of customers as they embrace a digital lifestyle. With a digital BSS stack, operators can seize the benefits of 5G – a fact they are well aware of. According to this report , the global digital BSS market is expected to reach approximately USD 7,416 million by 2025, at a CAGR of roughly 15% between 2019 and 2025.

A digital BSS provides an elastic, modern, and convergent system in a virtualized network environment, giving CSPs an edge over competitors and enabling them to readily offer unique 5G services. An effective BSS transformation helps modernize fixed and wireless networks, as well as support CSPs to introduce differentiated services and automate business processes.

What should you look for in a digital BSS?

5G facilitates real-time rating, metering and charging for sophisticated digital services, along with monetization schemes such as QoS tiers, OTT billing and charging, partner settlements (B2B2X), and more – all of which is possible only with a flexible and agile BSS platform. Robust digital BSS architecture using the latest 5G standards is essential in this competitive and ever-evolving market – today and well into the future – to be able to support a dynamic environment and provide quick time-to-value in delivering new features and functions.

Top benefits operators enjoy with digital BSS

Modern digital BSS features help improve and monetize legacy as well as next-gen networks, driving the following benefits for operators:

1. Rapid and phased deployments
A truly modern digital BSS is modular, cloud-native and deployed virtually. For operators not wanting to undertake a complete digital transformation at one go, it’s possible to implement in phases, so there is low risk involved in migration and fewer resources are required to launch it. Further, End of Life is less frequent, and the hardware is much easier to manage.

2. Accelerated monetization of use-cases
A 5G-ready digital BSS stack lets operators rapidly monetize the data network with innovative and personalized offerings, enhancing the digital experience for subscribers and improving customer loyalty. The elastic and convergent platform provides a network environment for CRM, convergent charging and billing, with REST APIs that offer the flexibility to quickly introduce a host of digital services with new billing models.

3. Centralized catalog management
With 5G, network slicing, and the surge of IoT and other data-intensive services like AI and VR, it will be challenging for CSPs to meet the demands to support new business models and use cases on the fly without expensive and lengthy backend code changes. A digital BSS stack with a centralized product catalog enables CSPs to swiftly respond to this network evolution. A common product repository and robust API framework allow CSPs, partners, and distributors to accelerate TTM for new products and services and improve revenue and customer engagement. With modern centralized catalogs, plans can be defined by many metrics such as volume, value, time, and quality of service. This core functionality helps ease teamwork and collaboration, manage offers efficiently, support multi-play offerings, and provide quick access to prebuilt use cases library.

4. Improved customer management
Customer relationship management covers all important aspects of the customer lifecycle, from registration and hierarchy to offering a 360-degree view to CSRs for subscribers as well as enterprise customers. With digital CRM, operators can implement automated workflows, streamline sales and support, and use chatbots and AI to reduce manual CSR workload. Additionally, it enables instant issue redressal and quick troubleshooting with web and mobile self-care including live chat options, lowering operational expenses and reducing churn.

5. Efficient revenue management
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP networks bring. Convergent charging facilitates automated rates and charging mechanisms. Further, revenue management solutions with reliable interconnect and billing for roaming help manage diverse partnerships, enabling CSPs to efficiently charge other operators for use of their voice, data, SMS, and other network infrastructure. A modern digital BSS with real-time APIs can also facilitate new 5G use cases like surge or congestion charging at times when the demand for digital services is high.

6. Enhanced partner management
A digital BSS stack with an integrated partner management platform helps improve operational agility by streamlining the partner lifecycle. It helps cultivate relationships with simplified onboarding, self-service, and support for a host of partner functions such as content, OTT, IoT, interconnect agreements, roaming, MVNO, and others. A partner management solution with open API integration works seamlessly with third-party systems.

7. Automated omnichannel support
Improving customer experience is not merely about providing better user interfaces on various devices, but also integrating the process across channels. Omnichannel support allows operators to provide a consistent, seamless, and highly personalized self-care experience through web, mobile and social media platforms, ensuring swift problem resolution while making customers feel more connected and valued. The most recent additions to this trend are WhatsApp-, AI- and NLP-powered chatbots for instant redressal of customer queries.

Telcos are already in the battle to build 5G networks and intend to offer improved quality of service to customers. And as they invest billions of dollars in 5G RAN, they must remember that an effective 5G strategy includes IT systems to generate ROI on that investment. Digital BSS has the great benefit of being modular so it can be rolled out in phases, mitigating the risks involved in a largescale migration of one’s billing system. To maximize their chances of success, operators must modernize their infrastructure with a digital BSS transformation today.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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Delivering Service Innovation with Convergent Billing and Charging

Delivering Service Innovation with Convergent Billing and Charging

Delivering Service Innovation with Convergent Billing and Charging

12th of September 2017
Telecom operators, in the past, relied solely on fixed-line services for generating revenue. The industry has since taken great strides. Operators have developed various innovative services that empower customers to look beyond voice and SMS and explore streaming video, maps, music, and many more data applications. The opportunities created for customers have enabled operators to plunge into new services.

Today, quality customer experience plays a major role in generating revenue. In this customer-centric era, operators are driven to promote timely personalized offers and deals at attractive price ranges.

With the rise of service offerings, operators face tremendous pressure on their billing platform. The need to enhance the capabilities of the BSS stack has become as significant as improving network capacity from time to time.

Why should telecom operators upgrade their billing systems?

Telecom operators have put billing systems on the front burner for driving the initiative to capture revenue and reduce costs. What telecom operators need now is a BSS stack that can fulfill the evolving needs of customers.

There are many communication product opportunities resulting in a complex blend of mobile and fixed offerings apart from applications, entertainment, and value-added services. This has only complicated the billing process. Flat-rate pricing has taken a backseat, with flexible and creative pricing emerging as a strategic differentiator. The increasing price complexity has in turn driven operators to augment BSS systems with more capabilities for handling billing and charging complexities.

Even though there is a great demand for mobile data services, operators fail to earn good revenues from these services. New charging models not only make it a requisite to redefine rating rules, but also demand a BSS stack with robust capabilities to support the ever-growing event data records.

The pricing models for prepaid and postpaid services pose another challenge. With different systems driving the rating and charging of these services, operators realize the need for a convergent platform to conquer the expensive and complicated process. Take pre-paid and post-paid billing for instance: there are two different systems driving these services. Operators face challenges while using different systems for different network services and also when legacy systems do not support the launch of new charging models.

There is also the dire need to hasten time-to-market when it comes to launching new services and gaining competitive advantage. These challenges entail a convergent billing platform that lays the foundation for improved customer experience, faster reaction to market changes and reduction in operating costs.

Are there any challenges?

Though convergent billing systems provide answers by turning a single invoice to a combination of customer charges, implementing this system comes with its own challenges. The litmus test is when there’s a need to create an agile and dynamic architecture to sustain the ever-growing and evolving telecom business to integrate into legacy infrastructure.

With increasing transactions, the pressure on a single platform could pave the way for problems. If there is a single point of failure it could cause a delay in charging a customer or disallow customers from using such services. A spike in transactions could also place too much pressure on a single billing and charging system due to which customer service would take a beating. This potential damage can also translate into revenue losses.

With the right planning and modern architecture in place, such challenges can be mitigated and turned into opportunities.

Why make a move to a customer-centric convergent billing system?

Today, customers are at the core of telecom operations, making them the dominant partner in the relationship. The days of providing fixed-line services and raising a single invoice are at an end. Triggered by evolving demands, more business partners, like content providers and resellers, have joined hands with operators to generate one bill for multiple services. Customers subscribing to services also see it as a way to procure additional content.

In this scenario, a convergent billing system must adopt a customer-centric approach by allowing operators to create convergent offers and promote personalized services. The system must allow operators to create a bundle of services and cater to the specific needs of customers.

What is the ‘ultimate’ convergent billing system?

Operators must look for the following salient features in a convergent billing system:

Real-time charging

Real-time charging is key to any prepaid/postpaid convergent system, as it’s necessary to enforce not only prepaid plans but also any intelligent postpaid plan, with dynamic rates or caps. The ideal convergent billing system is the one that allows consumers to keep a tab on their usage. By sending real-time alerts, the system not only alerts customers about their usage limits but also recommends better plans. In short, robust convergent billing systems ensure consumers take control over end-to-end real-time services.

Integration with other systems

The real worth of the convergent billing system is evident when it is integrated with legacy systems. This can be achieved by leveraging open interfaces and Service-Oriented Architectures that help reduce the complexities resulting from the integration. Also, the key to ensuring integration success is a vendor with a strong history of successfully integrating with a wide range of systems.

Support for an array of business models

Business models evolve with time. In the past, telecom operators billed business customers and expanded their services to cover individual customers. Initially, operators reached out to consumers through direct selling and later ramified their operations by joining hands with resellers. With business models evolving, convergent BSS stacks must adapt to emerging business models.

Rapid time-to-market

Existing billing systems fail to support modern products while time becomes a constraint in configuring individual products. The systems also lack the ability to promote the product and offer definitions as well as rating and changing scenario definitions. The ideal convergent billing system must ensure new services are implemented quickly and easily.

Allows new charging models to be added

Data service usage has reached a new high. This translates to an increase in network capacity investments as well as maintenance rather than an increase in revenues. The billing system must make it easy for telecom operators to personalize tariffs and services to customers, distinguish service types, and add new charging models.

Allow convergence on many levels

Multi-level convergence allows providers to invoice customers in a way that makes sense to them. Multiple services, pre- and post-paid, can all be invoiced to a single account, or divided into sub-accounts. This eases confusion on behalf of the customer: the services they’re receiving and the value they’re getting are clear, on the page, and all interactions with the company reflect this shared balance and account.

Robust and scalable system

Reliable service delivery is the key to ensuring customer satisfaction. A modern convergent billing system must be robust and scalable to recover resiliently when a problem arises, without creating a dent in service revenues. In order to respond to market shifts quickly with a rapid expansion of service offerings, the system must be capable of handling a breadth of transactions and ensure the security of system and data.

Like the emphasis on customer service driving changes in the telecom industry, changes in customer data toward convergent and personalized offers are creating a paradigm shift in the way customers are billed. From leveraging the promise of data to cutting costs and generating revenue, convergent billing and charging systems have become requisites for telecom operators to thrive in the market as it exists today, as well as how it will evolve into the future.

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.

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Is the Telecom industry finally surging ahead for growth in 2017?

Is the Telecom industry finally surging ahead for growth in 2017?

Is the Telecom industry finally surging ahead for growth in 2017?

1st of June 2017

The telecommunications market is in a period of transition—with years of declining traditional revenue, dipping average revenue per user, and loss of growth in the B2C sector, many operators are finding themselves wondering where the emerging business opportunities lie. Are there signs of business opportunities on the horizon for Telcos to step up their business growth in 2017?

telecom industry

B2B

The consumer market is growing just at 0.6%; in comparison, the B2B market has been growing at 2.6% annually. For Telcos, B2B services seem to be the ray of hope to propel their growth in 2017.  Just like consumers, businesses have come to expect fine-grained services, unique to their needs. However, while operators have focused their innovations on direct-to-consumer offerings, the needs of enterprise accounts have evolved, and a market opportunity has emerged to cater to these requirements. By re-positioning their offerings, operators can sell more effectively to this growing market, presenting businesses with telecom plans that also encompass workflow management, security, or CRM. By offering these more robust, enterprise-specific plans, operators are assured to distinguish themselves in the B2B growth market.

telecom industry

The Threat of OTT

Operators have also seen revenues plateau or drop because of the proliferation of OTT players. Companies like Google, Skype, and Netflix are increasingly taking market share from more traditional telecom providers, making competing with traditional services impossible.

telecom industry

While a select few telecoms have entered the OTT marketplace through large acquisitions of media companies (such as AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV), this is not a viable strategy for most telecom companies. Instead, the threat of OTT challenges telecoms to differentiate their services according to their unique tech and market advantages. By offering services more easily bundled into traditional telecom offerings, such as cloud storage, enhanced security, workflow management, or CRM, telecoms can find themselves increasing market share without attempting to compete directly with OTT providers. Additionally, by pivoting instead of competing, telecoms still win—after all, OTT use boosts internet and data usage.

The Rise of 5G

5G is the new trend expected to get off the ground in 2017. The potential of 5G to revolutionize business functions is not lost upon industries like transportation and energy. Moreover, 5G is predicted as the key to the rise of M2M and IoT applications like augmented or virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. Cellular-connected IoT devices alone are expected to create 1.2 billion lines by the year 2020, the equivalent of 15% of global mobile subscriptions! The rise of 5G will enable such data-hungry technologies to thrive, creating a whole new market segment for telecoms. Exploiting the potentials of new technologies could well be the new line of attack for the telecom companies. Vehicle connectivity, for instance, proves this point. In the US from January to March of 2016, connected cars were accountable for 32% of mobile connection net-adds, outpacing tablets (23%) and phones (31%). While telcos set their eyes on exploring new revenue-earning opportunities, collaborations established with these emerging technology players will prove to be viable to make this happen.

References:

http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/how-to-capture-the-b2b-growth-opportunity-in-telecom.aspx
https://www.telco2research.com/articles/EB_growth-strategies-68-operators
http://pages.eiu.com/rs/783-XMC-194/images/Telecoms_in_2017.pdf
http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/how-to-capture-the-b2b-growth-opportunity-in-telecom.aspx
http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/trend/2017-telecommunications-industry-trends
http://www.information-age.com/top-3-telecom-trends-2017-123463558/
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/over-the-top-ott.asp
http://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Telecoms-Opportunities-and-challenges-in-2017
https://www.zacks.com/commentary/98170/us-telecom-industry-momentum-to-continue-in-2017
http://www.bmiresearch.com/articles/global-telecoms-key-themes-for-2017
https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/overwhelming-ott-telcos-growth-strategy-in-a-digital-world

Rohit Srivastav

Rohit Srivastav

Content Strategist - Manager

Facts aren’t enough, a brand needs to tell stories. Stories that people want to read, share and read again. Stories that deliver on business goals. I am the guy who turns facts into stories.

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