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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Popular 5G-IoT Use Cases
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mobile communication technology has been driving digitization and is now an essential pillar across industries such as manufacturing, automobile, retail, supply chain, transport, healthcare, and more. Different business verticals have varying needs: one sector could require high-bandwidth communication, another may demand ultra-reliable communication, while a third needs extremely low-latency communication. The ideal 5G network will fulfill these diverse requirements at the same time, and this is possible through network slicing.
What is network slicing?
It is theoretically possible to build multiple dedicated networks where each is customized to support the needs of one type of business customer, but this is economically unviable. The most efficient approach is to segment a single physical network into multiple logical networks, each catering to unique service needs. This technique is called network slicing.
Network segmentation is available to an extent in legacy networks through Access Point Names (APNs) and dedicated core networks. But it is now more seamless and practical to use with advances in virtualization technology that is adopted by 5G. 5G networks, along with network slicing, allow business customers to enjoy connectivity in line with unique business specifications that are negotiated with a mobile operator in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The parameters of customization include data speed, quality of service (QoS), latency, reliability, security, and services.
A network slice is an autonomous end-to-end logical network operating on shared physical infrastructure capable of providing the agreed QoS. The scope of the network slice could cover multiple parts of the network, such as a terminal, core network, access network, and transportation network. One network slice includes dedicated and/or shared resources, which can vary in terms of bandwidth, storage, processing power, and more.
From the end-user perspective, the network slice serves as a normal mobile network. A slice often offers seamless and uninterrupted service when a device roams outside the home network.
Potential vertical applications
Network slices can be used for many use cases in several industries such as:
Consumer: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) for high bandwidth users.
Automotive: ultra-low latency (1 ms), high-availability, and effective isolation from other services for autonomous vehicles.
Logistics: high availability to track goods.
Healthcare: ultra-low latency and high availability for remote surgeries.
Warehouse: low-latency and high-availability for efficient collaboration between smart robots.
Media (entertainment/AR/VR): high-bandwidth for an immersive and seamless experience.
Smart cities, governments, SOS services: dedicated QoS to ensure connectivity of first responders.
Detailed network slicing use cases
Slices have limitless possibilities for industry, some of which include:
Slice for automobiles
Designed for a modern connected vehicle, it enables a highly versatile network that can deliver ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) service for self-driving, car-to-car communication, and emergency services as well as high-throughput for in-car entertainment using high-bandwidth.
Slice for industry automation
A smart factory can use the operator’s URLLC slice for industrial automation, allowing monitoring and control of robotic parts. An edge computing data center (as network resource service) is used to deploy the system.
Slice for massive IoT
An operator can deploy a dedicated slice for IoT users to manage the complex network requirements for a massive IoT device ecosystem. It can have lower latency, and a separate charging and control function to simplify network management and speed-up deployment. This slice can support one million devices per square kilometer.
Slice for live broadcasts in AR/VR
A dedicated high-bandwidth slice can be used by an operator to transmit news and events such as sports and concerts. To manage AR/VR video processing, it can support one-to-many downlink connections with high-density computing. The slice will ensure high-bandwidth and lower-latency QoS.
What capabilities do Alepo’s solutions extend?
Alepo’s 5G Core solution offers converged subscriber data management, policy, charging functions, and 3GPP AAA. It empowers the operator’s network team to create and manage slice profiles, their technical attributes, and associate them with subscriptions or group subscriptions. As a device connects to the network, slice profile details are provisioned towards the network to connect the device to a specific slice based on its service subscription. This empowers operators to create, manage, and charge different slices based on each customer’s business requirements.
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.
What do customers want? This is a million-dollar question – customer experience (CX) tops the list of differentiators that will give communications service providers (CSPs) an edge – and the answer’s constantly evolving. What’s indisputable is that digital transformation has meant customers are savvier and more self-reliant than ever, and they expect more control over their accounts. They want to manage all facets of their accounts using the social platform/s and apps they find most convenient, not necessarily legacy channels like IVR. Most importantly, they will remain loyal to a service provider that delivers a simple, interactive, seamless, personalized, digital, omnichannel self-care experience.
Research reveals that companies with robust omnichannel engagement boast an 89% customer retention rate; for companies with weak omnichannel strategies, on the other hand, that number is merely 33%. And customer retention is only the tip of the iceberg. Offering omnichannel digital engagement also means increased automation, workforce optimization, lower marketing and sales spending, reduced burden on call centers, and accelerated inbound leads – all of which improve revenue.
The evolution of self-care
More conventional forms of self-care such as SMS, USSD, search options on the website and FAQs have been around for years, and almost all operators offer at least one of these. However, their scope is limited and they do not support personalized responses based on the customer’s unique issues. IVR with live agents and email support address this limitation, but resolving issues takes hours, sometimes days. Customers no longer want to wait indefinitely for a response from customer care agents. In fact, in a survey conducted by Nuance Communications, 67% of respondents prefer self-service versus speaking directly to a customer care representative.
Customers today expect their concerns to be addressed immediately and like to follow the progress of their requests in real-time. Modern self-care solutions let operators respond automatically, any time of day or night, using cost-efficient AI chatbots. These chatbots have the capability to converse in multiple languages, and they use NLP to recognize and demonstrate human emotion. They are available for channels like live chat, web self-care, mobile apps, popular voice assistants like Alexa and Google, social media platforms like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Twitter, Facebook, and more.
Omnichannel experience means not only seamless switching but also smart channel integration, such as directing to IVR in a mobile app when customers are unable to solve problems and to follow-up when promised response times are exceeded. Customers can also choose between a chatbot and a live agent.
Self-care also includes advanced analytical tools that ensure a personalized experience for customers.
Some self-care operations include:
Digital self-onboarding with digital KYC
Paying bills, even for others
Gifting and sharing balances
Viewing and managing rewards points
Real-time proactive alerts and notifications
Managing family members and parental controls
Of course, implementing modern self-care is enhanced by a modern digital BSS that defines automated workflows for each type of request, and can keep customers up to speed with the progress of their complaint through notifications on multiple channels.
How customer self-sufficiency spells success
Modern automated self-care may be considered a customer-focused offering, but operators benefit just as much as their subscribers do. It significantly reduces costs compared to phone-based self-service. Recent statistics show the benefits of AI-powered chatbots versus traditional IVR systems in resolving customer queries:
80% of routine questions are answered by chatbots, freeing up agents for more productive work
30% reduction in customer service costs
50% decrease in call volume
And early entrants are already seeing results. Vodafone Italy, for instance, has reported that after introducing its conversational chatbot, 66% of its customer contacts were automated, reducing human contact, lowering the average number of times a customer contacted them by 15%, and 19% year-on-year reduction in customer operations costs.
Top 6 benefits of omnichannel self-care for operators
Modern self-care means automation, and automation means lower costs. Chatbots and automated self-care reduce customer calls to CSRs, lowering call center operational costs. Automated self-onboarding lets customers use their mobile devices to create an account, upload their KYC documents, sign an e-contract, activate services, and track delivery of their SIM. The entire process can be completed in just a few minutes and is paperless, reducing costs and simplifying customer acquisition. By accelerating inbound leads, operators can optimize their workforce, allowing them to focus on other aspects of the business.
Easy Account Management
Customers can keep track of their digital interactions and self-manage their accounts, including plans, services, and groups, which reduces reliance on CSRs and/or walk-ins to physical stores. Further, this feature increases transparency, improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Personalized Promotions and Offerings
Intelligent analytics and machine-learning techniques aid in subscriber profiling and monitoring conversion rates, content usage trends and network activity. Detailed insights into the customer’s behavior and preferences enable operators to promote offers tailored to the subscriber’s needs. CSPs receive detailed reports about the percentage of customers who like or dislike offers proposed to them and can also determine which customers are happy with their network offerings. These insights, when further processed, are often converted into mobile campaigns and help operators in targeting customers effectively on a large scale, helping reduce sales and marketing costs.
Easy Purchases and Payments
Contextual advertisements help target the right customers. UI-focused self-care also displays all available services, offers, and promotions clearly, making it easier and quicker for customers to make purchases and renewals. And the purchasing experience is simplified by offering multiple payment options using secure payment gateways. Consumption data enables tracking customer groups that are high-maintenance versus those that can serve themselves, those who are price-sensitive, those who upgrade their plans frequently, and so on. With these reports, operators can offer incentives and discounts, and implement cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Customer-Centric Use Cases
Customer-centric offerings put the customer in the driver’s seat, enabling them to purchase plans, top-ups, value-added services like unlimited and tiered plans, bandwidth on demand, data gifting, parental controls, personalized incentives, loyalty rewards, and more. Having more control over their accounts boosts customer experience both before and after the sale and drives repeat business, ensuring customer loyalty and improving overall business growth.
Multichannel and Multilingual Support
The importance of enabling customers to engage with their service providers using their platform and language of choice cannot be stressed enough. Customers can address queries and ensure swift complaint redressal, as well as receive proactive alerts and notifications, through the channel that’s most convenient for them. And while this enhances customer experience, it also reducing reliance on more conventional methods like CSRs and physical stores, helping reduce sales, marketing, and operational costs.
Differentiation and Personalization are Key
To conclude, service differentiation not only includes delivery and customer service but also letting subscribers access, manage and configure plans or services from anywhere and on any device, through an experience that’s been customized based on their needs and preferences. Omnichannel self-care stands out amongst the top offerings for operators to stay ahead of the competition.
Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.
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.
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.
Even as mobile plans continue to evolve and become increasingly more unique, the majority of internet service providers (ISPs) in the world are still offering the same plans they were offering 20 years ago: flat-rate, monthly plans with a specific QoS (bandwidth speed) and unlimited data. ISP offers are simple because that is what customers have traditionally demanded from ISPs. The customers seem happy with what they are receiving, and ISPs don’t see any reason to fix what isn’t broken.
Or Are They?
However, internet usage has changed, as the adoption of streaming and other over-the-top (OTT) apps continue to increase. Gone are the days of simple browsing. Internet usage has become a bandwidth-straining practice encompassing a wide range of OTT apps including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and many more. This diverse, but consistently draining usage can create a strain on provider networks, which may already find it challenging to distinguish themselves in a saturated marketplace. ISPs must now face the fact that their traditional offerings are no longer the best means of business. The flat rate plan that used to be a great deal for the provider, has now become a steal for the customers.
The Solution is Data Monetization
Through the use of a data monetization strategy, ISPs can address both issues at once by preserving network integrity through fine-grained plans that cater to customers’ exact needs as they arise. A data monetization platform gives ISPs the power to create a network where a broad selection of customer behaviors can be catered to precisely, meaning that data is used and rated as efficiently and profitably as possible.
The Key is Differentiation
Now, data monetization solutions aren’t for everyone. Data monetization isn’t just a simple change, but rather an entirely new way of doing business for ISPs. Data monetization is for ISPs who are looking to differentiate themselves in a shifting marketplace by offering advanced business plans to combat the ever-increasing data use, innovating, and providing more customer-focused offers to retain and grow their customer base.
We’ve put together a list of some of the top game-changing data monetization use cases for ISPs.
A la Carte
Give customers complete control over their data use. Instead of offering massive “all you can eat” plans that drain customers’ wallets and over serve their data appetites, give them an “a la carte” option instead. Customers can choose to only pay for the exact data they use, the specific applications they want to use, the times of day they want to use them, and the speeds they need. By allowing customers to choose what’s best for them, you are ensuring that valuable bandwidth isn’t being wasted on grandma’s emails. With a la carte options, customers have the complete freedom to design, purchase and activate data allowances for their exact needs.
Differentiate yourself by offering plans with subscriptions to certain apps or websites that don’t impact the user’s overall data usage. For example, with a monthly 2GB plan, subscribers receive free access for up to 1GB of data for the website or app of their choice. Or, incentivize usage during off-peak times by offering things like free gaming after 10 pm. Form partnerships with apps or websites to provide this service for free, or at a lower cost. This can be a huge incentive for customers to choose you instead of the competitors. Many operators today are buying and building their own content. So, use zero-rating for your own applications and platforms, as a way to incentivize their use.
Let customers increase their speed instantly with bandwidth on demand. An increase in speed, or a turbo boost, comes at a small fee when they need the extra bandwidth. This can be a huge benefit for customers who typically subscribe to a lower bandwidth speed, but occasionally need the boost in speed to stream a movie or video chat with their family across the country.
Allow parents to have more control over their children’s internet use. Give parents the ability to restrict certain websites or applications, limit the times of day that child users can be on the internet, and limit the amount of data a child uses.
Give a usage discount or a speed boost on special days, times or anniversaries. Happy Hours are a great way to incentivize data use during off-peak hours, decreasing the congestion peak times. Or, make customers feel special with a promotion on their birthdays or anniversaries, or on special days or holidays, giving customers a temporary higher bandwidth speed and/or a discount on data usage.
Ryan is intrigued by where telecommunications will go in the next few years. As a Partner and Sales Director, she’s been exposed to many aspects of the industry in different technologies and markets. When she’s not speaking in telecom acronyms, you can find her traveling the world, skiing the Colorado Rockies or doing DIY projects on her home.