How telecom operators can generate revenue with eSIM

How telecom operators can generate revenue with eSIM

How eSIM will help telecom operators unlock new revenue opportunities

 

December 15, 2022

 

The evolution of smartphones and devices over the last decade has given users a new way to access information and data at lightning speed. Smartphones are now being used as digital assistants, making everything from telemedicine to remote work more accessible and enjoyable. With the growing demand for accessibility and security, more bandwidth, and constant connectivity, operators are always looking for innovations that will help them evolve user experience and differentiate their offerings, while lowering costs and unlocking new revenue opportunities.

The eSIM (or embedded SIM) is one such innovation that helps operators meet all these criteria and takes telcos closer to their digital transformation goal.

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM or embedded subscriber identity module is the same as a regular SIM, except it comes permanently embedded in the smartphone. It replaces the need for a physical SIM card and a SIM card slot on the device. Users can remove or swap between different eSIM-based networks with more ease. eSIM also offers remote SIM provisioning technology, which enables the user’s profile information to be downloaded directly onto the device.

The traditional SIM has a unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), which identifies the phone on the cellular network. Along with the IMSI, the SIM also has a unique MSISDN, primarily, a mobile number that is used by other consumers when they call or text you. An eSIM can, however, be reprogrammed and rewritten, unlike a traditional SIM. That allows you to switch between networks without removing the SIM card.

Given the benefits of eSIM for operators and consumers, the technology has enormous potential to transform network experiences in the near future. For consumers, eSIM makes it easier to add companion devices to cellular plans, as well as manage multiple connections, profiles, and bundled subscriptions using a master subscription. Operators benefit from eSIM technology by being innovative in offering multi-device bundling, connected IoT devices/UEs, shared plans, and much more, while significantly lowering their OPEX. eSIM eliminates the overheads associated with physical SIM installation and changing operators.

For telecom operators, eSIM can potentially be a great revenue-generating and customer-retention tool.

Difference between eSIM and SIM


eSIM

SIM
Non-removable and embedded SIM inbuilt in the mobilePhysical, removable, and insertable into the SIM slot of compatible devices
Can store five connections from the same or different operatorsCan have only one connection from an operator
Supports single or multiple profile configurationSupports a single profile configuration
Can be activated by selecting an operator and a plan from the mobileCan be ordered from the operator or collected from the store
Comes in a fixed size as a part of the mobile’s motherboardComes in various sizes: standard, micro, and nano to fit in the SIM slot
Supports remote provisioningDoes not support remote provisioning

How can telecom operators benefit from eSIM?

eSIM enhances the innovation and revenue capabilities of the operator, as it facilitates operators to introduce next-gen plans for the customers, their profiles, connected devices, and more. There are many more benefits that eSIM can provide to telecom operators, including:

Provides a seamless onboarding experience

Using eSIMs can help streamline the onboarding process because they allow consumers to switch operators remotely without visiting a store to obtain a physical SIM card or waiting for SIM card delivery.

Using the QR-code scanning functionality of eSIM technology, consumers can instantly add multiple owned devices. It allows operators to have more cellular-connected devices on their networks and provide a consistent customer experience across multiple devices, improving accessibility and increasing subscriber retention.

Enhances flexibility and security

With traditional SIM cards, one must purchase a new SIM card and insert it into the device – which is not the case with eSIM. With eSIM, consumers can be onboarded quickly.

Moreover, if a phone is lost with a physical SIM card, a lock screen, biometric activation, and remote lock support could stop attackers from accessing it. However, one can still take out the SIM card and use it on another unlocked phone, allowing the hackers to make calls, send text messages, or access social media and bank accounts. An eSIM provides prevention in all such uncontrollable scenarios.

Enables hassle-free roaming experience

Switching to a local network while traveling would be easier with eSIM because it does not require physical insertion. It would assist operators in providing frequent business travelers with a seamless roaming experience. Additionally, because multiple profiles are possible, travelers can stack plans from multiple operators and select the most suitable plan as they travel from one country to another.

Lowers operational overheads

eSIM enables operators to increase ARPU without incurring operational costs or physical touchpoints. Customers can choose the available mobile network, whether local or roaming, without relying on the operator. Furthermore, when a subscriber misplaces their physical SIM cards, it incurs additional costs and inconveniences for both consumers and operators to reactivate a replacement.

Allows users to have multiple connections

eSIM removes the restriction of having a limited number of connections on a mobile phone. Consumers can have multiple connections from one or more operators, as well as can opt for device-based plans and shared bundling from different operators. With traditional SIMs, the consumer can carry one dual SIM mobile or have multiple mobiles if they own more than two connections. On the contrary, one eSIM can hold up to five virtual SIM cards or profiles simultaneously, facilitating consumers to quickly switch profiles based on needs. For example, a consumer can switch to a personal profile from a professional profile after work hours.

Unlocks revenue opportunities

Watches and other companion devices can help to increase ARPU. As device bundling will be easier and users can add new devices to their plans effortlessly, Telcos can offer multi-device packages and cellular and data plans. The customized and additional plans needed by customers will offer new revenue opportunities to operators. And the eliminated need to produce physical SIMs will help telcos save money and improve revenue margins.

Since traditional voice and SMS services are declining, many operators are concerned that eSIM will result in a loss of profits. However, they can consider selling additional subscriptions to their existing customers to activate a secondary subscription on the device. For example, customers who frequently visit other countries without international data plans can be encouraged to purchase a secondary subscription from one of the operator’s partners in other countries, which could be an excellent revenue-impacting move by operators.

Helps accelerate enterprise IoT

eSIM also empowers enterprise IoT as it can seamlessly connect many remote IoT-enabled devices. With eSIM, operators can sell more devices, offer managed services, and accelerate the adoption of private networks by enabling users to roam seamlessly between public and private infrastructure. eSIM technology, along with the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution), can bring a revolution for private networks and bring multiple benefits for enterprises, including complete visibility on the connected devices, scale up and scale down network resources as needed, automated network configurations, high QoS, highly secured infrastructure, and controlled costs. Some industries where eSIM and 4IR can transform the private network experience are utility companies with smart meters and CCTV, hospitals with patient tracking devices, energy companies generating energy using wind farms placed in remote locations, and more.
 

eSIM Use Cases

eSIM Use Cases

Conclusion

Telecommunication service providers should embrace the opportunities that eSIM technology brings to the table rather than see it as a potential threat.

With eSIM, telcos can broaden their sales of data plans to any device via exclusive digital stores and collaborate with other telcos to expand their channels to a broad audience.

GSMA estimates that more than 2 billion eSIM devices will be shipped by 2025. As market adoption grows and eSIM becomes more common, having a clear roadmap and plan in place will be critical for capitalizing on and monetizing the new opportunities provided by eSIM.

Alepo’s Digital BSS stack includes an eSIM Management module, which performs onboarding, and activation management. The eSIM Management module can help operators enable GSMA-compliant integration with the eSIM management platform for mobile, companion devices, and online (CRM, mobile app, Self-Care) and offline (Point of Sales) devices (android and Apple iOS devices). To learn more about the eSIM functionality, reach Alepo experts at market.development@alepo.com.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Vice President, Product Management

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 5 telecom trends to watch in 2023

Top 5 telecom trends to watch in 2023

Top 5 telecom trends to watch in 2023

 

December 12, 2022

New technologies and business models are emerging at an unprecedented rate. General trends such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and 5G have all gained traction in recent years and will continue to transform telecommunications in the years to come. In addition to these trends, here are predictions for the top 5 telecom trends in 2023.

Containerization

Containerization is a major telecom trend for 2023. The technology allows packaging an application’s code and its dependencies in isolation, facilitating optimal performance on any infrastructure, quick deployment, and faster time-to-market. Containerization is gaining popularity due to its portability, flexibility, scalability, security, modularity, and lightweight footprint. These significant features enable companies to process deployment-related tasks quickly and efficiently.

With the increasing complexity of networks and the software development challenges that go along with it, containerized systems make the life of developers easier and help them overcome operational and technical difficulties. Containerization increases the agility and accessibility of the application due to its leaner, virtualized, and service-oriented design, having no hardware or other system dependencies. When appropriately applied, containerization improves DevOps efficiency, streamlines work processes, and minimizes infrastructural conflicts. Containerization technology plays a significant role in implementing next-gen applications or networks. For example, it plays a prominent role in creating network slices, allowing technology service providers to create virtual replicas of networks with varied business requirements. To be more specific, when developers require a network that can handle autonomous driving and smart meters with varying delays and bandwidths, they can build those slices with the help of the containerized system.

And not to forget about the cost and security benefits of containerization, the containers-based networks are built with significantly lower costs and risks than traditionally built networks. Containerized applications can run easily in any environment thanks to its cloud-native infrastructure, significantly reducing maintenance and development costs.

Cybersecurity

Telecom has always been vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches, and the IoT boom has further elevated the need for cybersecurity and cyber resilience. The more devices we connect to our network, the more opportunities emerge for attackers to access our data.

5G will introduce different security threats, making the industry vulnerable to cyberattacks. A large amount of sensitive data spread across complex, confidential, and private networks make it essential for telecom operators to invest in implementing stringent cybersecurity measures to strengthen security surrounding connected devices and the cloud systems and networks that connect them.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, there will be 43 billion IoT-connected devices worldwide. IoT devices, from smartwatches or human-wearable biometrics to monitoring systems, robots, alarm systems, sensors, IT devices, and industrial machines, are important to remember for those in charge of cybersecurity. The ability to remotely access base stations and data centers makes IoT security crucial as more telecoms embrace the industry and deploy these devices in their networks.

Private 5G

Private 5G has been considered the top telecom trend in recent years and will become mainstream next year. As consumers eagerly await the rollout of 5G, numerous telecommunications companies have already made significant investments in the necessary infrastructure with 5G SA networks live in South Korea, Japan, and many more countries.

With 5G ecosystems, users will take advantage of increased speed, reliability, and consistency. For businesses, with its ultra-low latency, Due to its ultra-low latency capability, Private 5G will enable businesses with several high-value use cases, including 3D robot control, digital twins, medical remote control, and more. These next-gen use cases were practically unachievable with legacy network technologies, thus opening a high-revenue generating market for telcos.

5G networks are expanding, and more importantly, many devices in the market now support 5G. And with the evolution of industry 4.0, Private 5G will help enterprises connect hundreds of IoT/IIoT devices, boosting operational efficiency and productivity and enabling the development of mission-critical applications in almost all industries. Alepo is also working with its partners on multiple private 5G projects for hospitals, universities, semiconductor factories, and more.

Cloud computing in emerging markets due to hyperscalers

In the past three years, cloud computing has grown in popularity as more companies have turned to digital service delivery to respond to the global pandemic. By 2026, the global hyperscale cloud market is projected to reach US$693.49 billion, according to Research and Markets. The global hyperscale cloud market is expected to grow by 2026. This potentially industry-changing technology is something that telcos should keep an eye on.

One of the most significant factors influencing the hyperscale cloud market is the growing adoption of hyperscalers among SMEs in developing markets. Due to physical infrastructure and constant technological evolution, SMEs are always looking for ways to reduce IT costs and overcome the challenges related to data security, digitization, and high CAPEX. An increase in the demand for cloud computing by SMEs across industries has led to growth in the hyperscale cloud market, with data centers opening around the world to get closer to the end-user, such as South Africa, Chile, Mexico, and Indonesia.

Furthermore, the market has been growing over the past few years, due to factors such as increasing penetration of IoT devices, increasing adoption of 5G, SaaS, edge computing, video streaming apps, AI, and big data analytics, growing internet traffic, and an increase in the number of hyperscalers from AWS, Microsoft, Google, and other companies. Additional services that these hyperscale data centers offer to enterprises include massive server storage, cloud computing platforms, data processing, IT networking, software customizations, and much more.

As more businesses discover the operational and low capital-intensive benefits of hyperscale infrastructure, the move to cloud computing will surely see a boom in 2023.

Edge orchestration

Edge orchestration or edge computing hosts and authorizes apps to run at a network’s edge. It’s a distributed computing architecture in which processing and data storage moves closer to the data source. It brings benefits like lower latency, accessibility, and reliability to use cases like AR/VR and IIoT.

Edge cloud computing technology will rapidly spread thanks to 5G as communication service providers will deploy 5G networks with hundreds of centers and distributed cloud edge sites. Edge cloud computing environments will grow, using network-as-code, multi-cloud, and open APIs with purpose-driven closed-loop orchestration. These facades incorporate a converged framework at the network edge that can serve various user needs, while maintaining high agility and low operational expenses.

With so many benefits to offer, edge orchestration remains one of the top telecom trends of 2023. Edge ecosystems will emerge as an essential pillar of CSPs’ digital transformation journey, allowing them to achieve market significance beyond connectivity.

Conclusion

2023 is shaping up to be one of the most transformative years for the telecom industry. These five trends will bring technological revolution, digital transformation, better data security, improved Quality of Service (QoS), and new revenue opportunities for telcos. And the adoption of these trends is a must to remain competitive and overcome future challenges.

Anju Gulati

Anju Gulati

Associate Director - Marketing

A core marketer with around twenty-one years of cross-discipline experience, including marketing communications, operations, and content creation. I believe with an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketing creates the magic to expedite sales closures, achieve business success, sustain brand leadership, and drive future growth.

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How cloud BSS helps telecom operators save costs

How cloud BSS helps telecom operators save costs

How cloud BSS helps telecom operators save costs

September 29, 2022
Operators are already seeing the benefits of digitization and BSS transformation. According to a report by Markets & Markets, the global OSS/BSS market is expected to reach USD 36.6  billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 12.8%1. Many telecom operators are taking the approach of Software as a Service (SaaS) models to pace out their investments as they modernize their infrastructure. An Analysys Mason report estimates that SaaS spending will likely rise by 11% by 20232 as CSPs continue to undertake digital transformation. However, a TM Forum report states that less than 5%3 have deployed their operations software in the public cloud. Here’s why this should change.

Telecommunications service providers today operate under pressure as their long-established value pools are gradually eroding, with growing competition and ever-increasing customer demands for more modern services. To thrive in spite of these economic and competitive challenges, they need to revolutionize their businesses. A modern and digital Business Support System (BSS) enables them to quickly reinvent their core offerings; deploying telecom BSS in the cloud significantly helps lower costs, eventually driving revenue.

Cloud BSS helps streamline end-to-end processes, from managing product offerings to sales and marketing activities. It also introduces technological changes that enable endless scalability, network availability, and security. It implements automations that not only optimize backend processes, but also digitize CX with 24x7x365 support offerings powered by AI chatbots. In addition, operators can provide advanced service personalization by leveraging advanced data insights.

How cloud BSS helps maximize savings

Modern telecom BSS stacks handle critical aspects of the business, including the launch, delivery, and monetization of services, billing and charging, customer support, revenue management, and more. Deploying BSS in the cloud results in significant savings and drives revenue for a host of reasons:

Ensures cost-effective deployment

Compared to on-premise deployments, cloud BSS is far more cost-effective to set up. Chip and hardware shortages can delay on-site deployment by 3-6 months, whereas cloud BSS can be ready for service in 30 days. Quicker deployment lets operators optimize their investments and begin deriving returns faster.

Reduces OPEX

In addition to keeping initial investments low, cloud deployment significantly lowers operational and maintenance costs due to factors such as reduction in data center real estate, power consumption, server maintenance, replacement of faulty parts, offloading network security, and more.

Optimizes investment

Instead of buying a large upfront capacity to plan for future growth, operators can opt and pay for only the licenses and infrastructure resources they need using pay-as-you-go SaaS deployment models, maximizing their investments and swiftly deriving ROI.

Provides support for 5G use cases

Cloud BSS acts as the backbone for next-gen monetization opportunities, letting service providers easily and swiftly introduce 5G services, monetizing them with support for advanced business models and partnerships. It supports advanced next-gen use cases that have high data, latency, and bandwidth requirements, as well as supports the large volumes of connected devices inherent to 5G.

Enables scalable business models

A cloud BSS can help scale a business with relatively lower investments, letting operators introduce new capabilities and modules without making costly changes to their core systems.

Conclusion

It’s clear that a cloud BSS helps telecom operators maximize their savings potential. It holds massive scope to enable them to differentiate themselves from and move ahead of their competitors.

Alepo’s cloud-native 5G-ready Digital BSS and SaaS BSS solution enable operators to capitalize on data network opportunities with affordable business models. Its comprehensive Digital BSS suite provides flexible cloud hosting options, advanced BI analytics, and a host of other features that streamline business operations, shorten time-to-market, ensure faster ROI, and maximize revenue.

Our experts can help you begin your cloud BSS journey today: market.development@alepo.com

Anju Gulati

Anju Gulati

Associate Director - Marketing

A core marketer with around twenty-one years of cross-discipline experience, including marketing communications, operations, and content creation. I believe with an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketing creates the magic to expedite sales closures, achieve business success, sustain brand leadership, and drive future growth.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

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

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

Top 7 benefits telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom digital BSS helps to fully monetize this transformation and derive maximum ROI.

How a telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom operators 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 telecom operators 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 telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom 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 telecom operators 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 telecom operators to efficiently charge other operators for use of their voice, data, SMS, and other network infrastructure. A modern telecom 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.

Telecom operators 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.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How a Centralized Product Catalog Revolutionizes a Telco’s BSS Offerings

How a Centralized Product Catalog Revolutionizes a Telco’s BSS Offerings

How a Centralized Product Catalog Revolutionizes a Telco’s BSS Offerings

10th of July 2017
With a growing demand for smartphones and other data-hungry devices in the digital era, offering customers the right products at the right time remains a challenge for CSPs. It can be difficult for CSPs to create, manage and monetize data offers efficiently. Despite having a variety of products, many fail to respond to the growing needs of customers in an ever-changing marketplace due to unconsolidated Business Support Systems (BSS), a poorly integrated order management system, and multiple product catalogs. While customers clearly indicate that quality, reliability and consistent service are keys to retention, operators’ BSS stacks fail to anticipate customer needs to proactively deliver personalized offers.

The root of the problem is a lack of ability to deliver on customer demands for bundled services and siloed product offerings. The ideal solution is to have a single centralized product catalog. A centralized product catalog helps seize revenue-generating opportunities, deliver unparalleled Quality of Experience (QoE), reduce time-to-market (TTM), retain a profitable subscriber base, reduce churn, and improve brand loyalty.

A Single Centralized Product Catalog Versus Multiple Product Catalogs

Operators and their many distinct teams (such as business, product, operational and network) currently maintain several product catalogs for multiple channels, such as subscribers, affiliates, casual customers, and more. However, to gain a competitive market advantage and to ensure the timely launch of new products, CSPs need to quickly design, create, price, bundle, collaborate and launch offers based on customer needs and preferences. Unfortunately, as soon as the market and customers’ preferences evolve, these old product catalogs take a backseat, and the need to create a new product catalog arises. The constant creation of new products and the need for bundled services across multiple departments make it difficult for operators to manage multiple product catalogs scattered across the BSS.

To make the product portfolio instantly available to marketing and product teams and to reduce complexities, a single centralized product catalog offers a powerful solution to the constant battle to respond quickly and efficiently to market changes. It helps CSPs to design, collaborate, organize, and manage offer life cycles with ease, giving them a competitive edge to launch numerous innovative plans and services on the fly. The reduced TTM and ability to respond quickly to customer needs redefine the customer experience, assure customer happiness, increase ARPU and ROI, and lower operating costs.

How a Centralized Product Catalog Reduces TTM

From offer creation to fulfillment, Alepo’s next-gen Digital BSS platform, with a built-in product catalog, is designed to increase revenue and customer loyalty by facilitating a rapid TTM for new, innovative products and services. The centralized Alepo Product Catalog gives CSPs the flexibility to agilely respond in a continuously evolving market across multiple access technologies with fine-grained prepaid, postpaid, and hybrid plans. With Alepo’s Product Catalog, products can be configured and brought to market via a simple point-and-click interface and defined by many metrics based on volume, value, time, and QoE.

10 Key Considerations for an Ideal Product Catalog

1. Single, Centralized, Convergent Tool

A product catalog should be a single, truly centralized, convergent, and service-agnostic application that bundles multiple service offerings into one package within a few minutes, anytime and for any network.

2. Simple, Intuitive Interface

A product catalog should have a simplified, modern user interface (UI) that helps business users conceptualize and design new offers quickly. Alepo’s Product Catalog, a robust and standalone application, takes the user experience to new heights with a drag-and-drop UI, helping CSPs create new features with ease.

3. Product-Centric Dashboard

With cutting-edge product catalogs such as Alepo’s, marketing and product teams are able to maintain a smart dashboard. With quick insight into upcoming, ongoing, and expired offers, as well as the most discussed offers, a product-centric dashboard efficiently manages the product offering design process.

4. Efficient Offers Management

A single and centralized or master product catalog serves as an offer repository when integrated with other IT systems of the BSS platform. A product catalog reduces the effort put into creating and managing offers. Irrespective of the number and nature of offers, the ideal product catalog manages all manner of offers, system-wide, in a single catalog, ensuring efficiency.

5. Eases Teamwork and Collaboration

A product catalog should provide features like sharing, discussion, and history. This built-in communication eliminates the need for spreadsheets, whiteboards, or paper versions of the offers that get easily lost or are hard to organize. With all of this information in one place, collaboration is more efficient, and fewer mistakes are made. Discussion forum functionality enables marketing and product teams to manage the offer design process efficiently. It encourages active participation and discussion across departments during the offer design process. This collaborative process helps CSPs to reduce operational cost and respond with agility to shifts in the market.

6. Flexible Offer Design Interface

The platform should provide flexibility in designing offers, allowing marketing and product teams to create and modify offer attributes and features while capturing their granular details. Advanced applications like Alepo’s Universal Offer Designer help create attractive and innovative products, without limitations, giving CSPs a competitive edge in the market.

7. Intelligent Offer Organization

The list of offers present in the product catalog should be easily scanned by adding filters such as tags and categories. The platform needs to be flexible, managing offers through the use of a search filter tool, offer versioning, categorization, and tags. New offers can be designed quickly and intelligently to fill gaps in the current catalog through the use of offer import/export, cloning, and product comparisons.

8. Supports Multi-Play Offerings

The role of a product catalog is not just to create and manage offers, but help CSPs gain new subscribers, offer complex service bundles, improve ARPU, and generate revenue. The product catalog remains a powerful channel for CSPs to improve their multi-play offerings and digitally evolve their network.

9. Secured Access

A product catalog should provide role-based authentication for creating offers, editing offers, read-only access, deleting offers, creating features, and so on. This administrative aspect helps in maintaining authorized access, reducing human error.

10. Flexible Deployment Options

The product catalog is generally a standalone tool and comes with flexible deployment models such as “SaaS” or “on-premise.” Considering the business needs and IT complexities, Alepo’s Product Catalog supports multiple business models, i.e. as an internal component of Alepo’s Digital BSS Solution or as a standalone master product catalog with integration’s to other IT systems through RESTful API integration.

Anju Gulati

Anju Gulati

Marketing Manager

A core marketer with around twenty years of cross-discipline experience, including marketing communications, operations, and content creation. I believe with an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketing creates the magic to expedite sales closures, achieve business success, sustain brand leadership, and drive future growth.

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