Spectrum is the First Step. How Will Operators Next Invest in 5G?

Posted: August 29th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

By Malla Poikela and Simo Isomäki

Consumers want faster internet. Operators want to offer it. And now, regulators in the United States say they want to give telcos the tools to deliver it.

This month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would open up a range of spectrum – 28 Gigahertz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz – for the creation of the next generation of wireless services. 5G connectivity will represent a “quantum leap” in wireless capabilities, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, because it promises to deliver speeds at least 10 times and possibly 100 times faster than 4G LTE.

56 connectivity

The U.S. will be the first country in the world to open up spectrum for 5G, and there are many positive takeaways from the FCC’s announcement. First off, releasing radio spectrum is an obvious and important first step toward innovation. It creates a great opportunity for first-movers to start testing and developing new wireless technologies.

Wheeler also points out that the high-frequency bands now available to telcos support much higher traffic throughput compared to existing licensed spectrum, which will give “fibre-like” traffic capacity to wireless users. That will allow operators to dream up intriguing new services and applications.

There’s a lot to like from the FCC announcement, but of course it’s just the first step in the ongoing development of 5G. There’s a lot of work left to do to make 5G a feasible and profitable option for operators.

A Complex Regulatory Environment

Communication services providers (CSP) and network equipment providers (NEP) will need to make substantial investments to roll out 5G across the world, and they’ll need to do it fast to meet consumer demand. How will they recoup the costs of their investments?

One strategy might be to sell premium 5G-enabled services at a premium cost, but of course, those operators would need to be careful not to defy net neutrality regulations and expectations. There’s friction between regulations and operators on this issue. While FCC has ruled in favour of net neutrality, major U.S. telcos have argued that an inability to create priority services limits the funds they’d use to invest in infrastructure.

This issue should only become more pronounced with 5G. How can regulators and operators meet in the middle? There are a number examples of differentiated service models that balance private and public interests while working in parallel, such as public libraries and private booksellers, or VIP services in the hospitality industry. Regulators and operators must create an environment that encourages equal access but also offers unique opportunities for differentiated service models.

A New Infrastructure for Better Latency, Connectivity

5G connectivity is supposed to offer the network speed needed to power next-generation applications, the types that can’t afford lags or gaps in connection. A connected car, for example, needs fast internet access all of the time, whether you’re driving in a crowded urban environment or a sleepy rural community.

But solving for network speed is ultimately more of an infrastructure problem more than it is about adding spectrum. User devices will need to be moved closer to the edge of the network, which means a massive deployment of unobstructed antennas – that’s where the biggest costs related 5G deployment will be found.

How will that impact the future development of cloud infrastructure? Will it push us even faster toward global urbanization, with fewer people living in rural communities? How will investment in 5G be balanced against investments in faster fixed connections, like fibre?

Interestingly, many of the most popular use cases for 5G seem to suggest that, in the future, we’ll mostly access the internet via mobile networks. But of course, that’s not nearly the case across the world. In the United States, only 20 percent of households access the internet exclusively through mobile networks – 75 percent get it from fixed connections, according to the NTIA.

Now, the numbers are in fact slightly trending toward more mobile-only connections and fewer fixed connections in the US market. Globally, mobile broadband connections are, on average, 1.7 times cheaper than fixed-broadband, according to the International Telecommunications Union. But will operators choose to invest in both areas evenly, or favour one connection over the other? The most realistic vision for 5G connectivity might be in heterogeneous networks, a combination of wireline and wireless, where operators will be able to exercise a variety of connectivity technologies, including 5G, to deliver maximum service and experiences to customers.

Spectrum is one important piece of the puzzle that is 5G, but it’s still early days. The telco industry needs to work with regulators to solve issues around differentiated service offerings, and operators need to determine how best to change network infrastructure to support futuristic bandwidth-hungry service and applications.


Software Usability in Telco: Going Beyond Technical Performance

Posted: August 23rd, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

By Kirsi Kalenius-Ruotsalainen

Most software is built in layers. At the bottom sits the technical foundation, while at the very top there’s a user interface that connects man with machine. Most software users never actually deal with the technical layer – they’re happy as long as the software’s foundation works efficiently and as it should. mobile desktop software development

Instead, most user interactions occur on the surface layer, but that’s not always where developers and businesses focus their attention. A lot of development time is spent shoring up a product’s technical foundation, and while it’s very important to create a functional product that’s built on strong footing, a subpar user interface is not enough. Users need more than that. And a major challenge is that a product’s usability is invisible by nature and usually only gains attention when something is missing.

The User is Number One

What is usability in a nutshell?

The essence of it is to think about the usage of a product or service from the user’s point of view and consider the optimal way of interacting with the product to achieve maximum end-user benefits. It’s about enabling the use of a product or service to be as easy, as pleasant and as efficient as possible. It’s about simplifying complex things.

Users need products that are easy to learn and to use, that eliminate error-prone conditions, that create meaningful experiences, and, not to forget, that are pleasant to look at. Products need to make sense and answer the needs of users.

Users want products to be as fluent as possible, saving their time and, in the corporate world, saving their money. This need is universal no matter the software’s target group or ideal customer, whether it’s a private individual or a big global telco company.

So, how do software developers get to the point where their product’s users enjoy both maximum technical performance as well as great product usability?

One has to bear in mind that great product usability, as abstract as it sounds, is not a complementary asset – it’s an integral must-have quality for any service or software. The process of ensuring a service or software has the best possible usability goes alongside the whole development process, from requirements gathering all the way to delivery and beyond.

A Focus on Usability Saves Money

It’s not only end-users that benefit from an integrated approach to addressing software usability. Developers and businesses stand to benefit, too.

By utilizing user-centric design methods from the beginning, it’s easier for developers to track what customers want and compile a comprehensive list of product requirements. In fact, it would be beneficial for all parties, if possible, to have continuous communication between customers and the user experience design team to track satisfaction with a product’s usability and features.

After feedback is received and new product requirements determined, continuous end-user feedback and validation during the design and development stages will ensure faster progress and earlier resolution of design flaws or feature missteps. Failing fast saves development time and money.

How Comptel Addresses Product Usability

The Comptel user experience design team utilizes user-centric design methods that aim at taking the end-user into account from the very beginning of the design process. The range of different methods is vast, varying from user interviews to focus groups, workshops and co-creation. End-users and experts are an integral part of the design process and their knowledge is being utilized at all phases. We aim to achieve continuous dialog with our end-users.

Usability Can Also Be a Competitive Asset

Let’s not forget that Comptel is not the only business operating in the area of telco software development. We always ask ourselves: How can we differentiate from the other providers in this highly competitive environment? What makes us better?

When a software’s technical performance, feature list and price are approximately on the same level, it’s the surface-level usability that makes the difference to customers. So we work to deliver a superior user experience that customers know is quintessentially Comptel.

You can’t create a world-leading software product without offering both great technical performance and a great user experience. And you can’t deliver a great user experience without supreme product usability. These factors combined equal quality. And quality is our key driver.


Sponsored Data is a Path to Revenue for Savvy Mobile Operators

Posted: August 2nd, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Pop quiz: which app holds the record for the most launch-week U.S. downloads in the history of Apple’s App Store? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the answer should be fairly easy: it’s Pokémon GO. pokemon go

The app has been a pop culture sensation since launching in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand. It’s the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, and enjoys 21 million daily users on average. The average mobile iOS user spends more time on the Pokémon GO than they do Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

That level of engagement for a brand-new app is extraordinary. Recognising that fact, T-Mobile U.S. rolled out a compelling offer for its mobile subscribers as part of its “T-Mobile Tuesdays” campaign: free, unlimited data to play Pokémon GO for up to one year.

T-Mobile has been at the forefront of programs that make data available to subscribers for free. Its “Binge On” program allows customers to access more than 75 streaming video services without using their monthly 4G LTE data allotment.

Customers love streaming content and games, but they are reluctant to engage with certain activities because it’s perceived they might consume too much of their data allowance. Sponsored data programs let them engage with those services because the cost of data consumption is covered by an enterprise, such as the content provider.

Through agreements with streaming content providers or mobile app developers, operators remove the financial barriers that might have discouraged customers from accessing these data-hungry services. As an effective monetisation strategy, sponsored data endears you to your customers, establishes greater levels of satisfaction and loyalty, increases data consumption and creates long-term revenue-generation opportunities.

At this past TM Forum Live! in Nice, we demonstrated a business model for enterprise sponsored data through a Catalyst championed by Orange. Our initiative – which was awarded “Most Innovative Catalyst – Commercial in the Communications Industry” – used Comptel’s Intelligent Fast Data capabilities to create personalised data offerings for enterprise customers, allowing those enterprises to collect usage data and apply policy control.

It’s not just streaming content providers who can get involved. Operators could identify new avenues to revenue in the B2B market. A business could purchase a corporate data allowance, for example, that sponsors all data its employees use to access corporate services, like Office 365, via their personal mobile devices. That eliminates any potential hesitancy on the part of employees, who otherwise may not want to use up their personal data allowance for work purposes.

Whether for work or play, sponsored data programs could be a major opportunity for operators to drive more revenue opportunities from data services. As digital services take up a bigger share of smartphone usage compared to voice and mobile, these new avenues to revenue will be crucial for operator business growth.

Read more about Comptel’s Catalysts at TM Forum Live! 2016, which included partnerships with Orange, Telefonica, Salesforce and IBM. Keep up with the conversation around mobile monetisation at Nexterday.org, our reader community and online magazine.


Through Network Transformation, POST Technologies Gains Flexibility, Operational Savings

Posted: July 13th, 2016 | Author: Ulla Huopaniemi | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Outdated back-end systems no longer offer the flexibility to help operators create the dynamic digital services their customers want, nor do they lead to cost-efficiency from an operational perspective. Recognising this, many service providers across the globe are undertaking challenging back-end fulfillment transformation projects for their networks, with the aim of reducing operational expenses and providing customers with next-generation digital services.OSS Transformation

For telcos, these network transformations are complex enough, but add on complimented mergers, acquisitions, regulations and organisational restructuring, and the project can seem downright implausible.

However, one Comptel customer was able to achieve the seemingly impossible and re-engineer its network for better flexibility.

New Business Model Requires Back-End Transformation

After the leading Luxembourg postal and telecommunication service provider, POST Luxembourg, divided its existing telecommunication operations into two separate companies due to regulatory obligations, the organisation’s new business model required a back-end transformation.

POST Telecom would market telecommunication services to residential and corporate customers and POST Technologies would provide wholesale services to POST Telecom and to Other Licensed Operators (OLOs). The company needed to split the IT operations and processes that supported both divisions, while still meeting a regulatory requirement that all orders shared the same processes, regardless of which customer placed the order.

Although POST Technologies would not need to directly interface with residential and corporate customers, the company recognized that it still needed to transform its fulfilment architecture so that wholesale customers could deliver modern and innovative services to their various end users.

Regulations put an added layer of pressure on POST Technologies, as the company was given a tight implementation schedule – the first phase needed to be up and running within nine months.

Equipped for The Future

Stemming from a negative experience with a previous waterfall-based transformation that was based on fixed, pre-defined project design and timelines, POST Technologies decided to follow agile work principles for this particularly daunting project.

“Agile methods were already used by POST for development projects,” said Luca Nadalini, Head of OSS-ISS-Fulfillment for POST Technologies. “But this was the first time we applied them to a large transformation project.”

Comptel, which already applies agile methods in product development, was able and willing to work with POST Technologies using lean delivery.

After a three-year long planning and evaluation phase, using TM Forum’s Frameworx as references for terminology and best practices, POST Technologies selected Comptel’s FlowOne Fulfillment suite as the company’s unified fulfillment solution for all services, enabling automated, accurate and controlled workflows. The suite also offered POST Technologies flexible service portfolio development, enabling the company to meet changing market needs and improve competitiveness.

Best of all, POST Technologies gained the flexibility to adapt its fulfillment processes to new requirements in the future, without having to engage in another expensive transformation project.

Working with Comptel, POST Technologies was able to meet its business objectives in a very challenging timeline. POST has now completed the first phase of its transformation project, which has already led to an increase in operational efficiency, higher revenue and margin, and improved customer experience.

Download this Comptel case study to get the full story on how POST Technologies transformed its fulfillment architecture with Comptel’s FlowOne Fulfillment.


Rethinking Convergent Charging at a Time of BSS Transformation

Posted: July 8th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , | No Comments »

By Simo Isomäki and Malla Poikela

The story on convergent charging has been a simple one: operators are adding more subscribers and a wider range of dynamic digital services, and thus need to transform their networks to support that. Billing and charging are important components to the infrastructure, and convergent charging is a way to achieve simplicity and flexibility through consolidated payment. smartphone mobile pay

When you can create a single bill or account for all your disparate services, including fixed telephony, prepaid and postpaid mobile, SMS, data services and more, you create a better, more efficient experience for you and your customer.

Again, it’s a simple story, which is a big reason why the most recent numbers from Infonetics Research reported that convergent charging is a $3.1 billion global market. However, given how quickly the telco market changes, it’s worth stepping back to evaluate how the evolution of consumer demand has impacted the supposed emergence of convergent charging.

One important factor is the increasing business irrelevance of the traditional communication services, voice and SMS. Voice, we know, is a rapidly declining business, experiencing reduced customer usage and reduced revenue as a result. SMS, similarly, is being offered as part of unlimited bundles with voice.

And we all know what’s happening with data – it’s exploding. All the innovation around revenue generation and service creation is happening in the world of data. We’re observing entirely new data-driven service models that put access to digital content, like over-the-top (OTT) services, at the centre of customer packages. Voice is even being gobbled up by data – just look at the emergence of VoLTE, which has been launched in 55 live deployments in 34 countries, according to the latest figures from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

At the same time, we often hear all about the disruptive BSS transformation needed to provide a more flexible and convenient customer service experience. So, with data the clear-cut leading horse for revenue generation and service innovation, and radical BSS transformation changing customer service expectations, what does that mean for convergent charging? In fact, is there even any point in trying to converge these services into one system, when two of the three won’t provide much in the way of revenue at all in the near future?

Convergent charging was all about merging payment methods and services to benefit the end user. A user could choose to pre-pay, post-pay or mix payment methods, and a single system would be able to manage it all, instead of the two or more systems operators previously relied on. The question is, have consumers adopted hybrid payments – the key reason for payment convergence at-large – or are we naturally using the payment method of choice irrespective of the services we consume?

Has convergent charging, as we know it today, become an obsolete concept? Are current convergent charging platforms built to serve a stale and irrelevant market view?

The telco industry is experiencing a massive BSS transformation, and convergent charging is an important part of it. Modern convergent charging platforms will need to enable innovation in multitudes of services, but in three or four critical domains: shared/single quota management, sponsorships/third-party pays, data consumption and the transition of voice to data (VoLTE).

Shared/Single Quota Management

The average digital consumer owns 3.64 connected devices, according to GlobalWebIndex. That number should only continue to grow, as consumers want to stay plugged in to their favourite apps and digital services around the clock. Operators, then, should want to converge payments for all the services on these devices into one central bill or account.

A single multi-service account, in which a customer has one common account for multiple services, is a clear use case for billing convergence. In this scenario, an operator would offer master account handling with convergent quotas and quality of service management (QoS) across multiple channels, including mobile, Wi-Fi internet, cable TV and across a growing number of devices.

The problem is that initially planned convergent charging platforms require an expensive architecture that is not designed for the dynamic and agile associations of devices to accounts over complex fixed and mobile networks. As a result, these systems cannot find a simple way to enable concepts like family payment plans or the single management of streaming content, like Netflix, on a tablet device that can dynamically switch between cable-provided Wi-Fi and cellular-provided internet access.

Third-Party Pays

Another clear opportunity for next-generation convergent charging is in solving some of the asymmetry around third-party pay concepts, and offering two-sided B2B2C business models.

At TM Forum Live! 2016, Comptel was part of an award-winning Catalyst presentation sponsored by Orange. The Catalyst offered a view of sponsored data payment models, in which a corporate sponsor of some kind could build sponsored data packages for an operator. The result would be that customers receive free data access, the sponsor receives an opportunity to market to the customer, and the operator receives a fresh new wholesale revenue opportunity, increased data consumption and improved customer loyalty.

This model could introduce a complex payment structure – rather than being paid directly by the customer, an operator could technically be paid by multiple parties. Traditional convergent charging platforms don’t have the flexibility to support this modern payment approach, and cannot offer the valuable personalised customer engagement and marketing capabilities needed to make this model successful. The sponsor would expect lead generation capabilities, and the operator would need to create a real-time, zero-touch, closed-loop consumption model that includes marketing, sales and service delivery.

That’s what you get from new BSS, convergent charging platforms and innovative solution – the ability for the sponsor to define the sponsorship packages and the system providing them, the ability to find and qualify the ideal customer for a sponsored data package, and then deliver that package to the customer automatically, without operator-induced friction.

Data Consumption

All signs point to user data consumption shifting. The 2016 Internet Trends report from KPCB underscores the acceleration of streaming video. While just three years ago, semi-live content, such as Snapchat stories, were the new frontier in mobile content, today’s big platform is real-live content. Consumers love mass audience experiences like Facebook Live or Periscope video, which allows any consumer to stream live-video to the network and for audiences to watch real-time video in the moment.

This is only the start. At Mobile World Congress 2016, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said the future belongs to video, in particularly to users the streaming 360° video that underpins virtual reality experiences to the network. This behaviour is a major shift – users have gone from downloading video to uploading real-live video.

Transition of Voice to Data (VoLTE)

Although VoLTE will not be a silver bullet solution to voice revenue, it can be a step toward real-time communication on the Web (WebRTC). The upshot is, operators are moving toward a future where all of their services are delivered over data. After a period of time in which consumer devices migrate to VoLTE, this will enable operators to minimise the circuit-switched infrastructure and potentially even shut it down someday.

Convergent charging, then, will really be all about converging payments from different sources – not just the actual mobile customer. Instead, operators will need to converge payments from the different data-driven services and systems that underpin consumer services of the future. This requires fresh thinking to transform BSS to correspond these new requirements.

Converging Toward Living Data-Driven Services

Transitioning to convergent charging, to date, has meant expensive and complicated BSS and architecture transformations. However, market forces are making the traditional motivating factors behind that kind of convergent charging obsolete. Instead of thinking of ways to combine voice, SMS and data and to enable hybrid payments, operators must move past traditional communications services. They should embrace a future built on data and BSS transformation, along with the flexibility to create dynamic business models and living services that are offered to customers at the perfect time.


3 Comptel Webinars Explore the Global Fibre Broadband Opportunity

Posted: June 23rd, 2016 | Author: Ulla Huopaniemi | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Operators around the world are finding ways to make the fibre broadband opportunity work to their advantage, and many others are using those blueprints to chart their fibre initiatives.fiber internet services

Comptel explored the fibre broadband opportunity from every angle in a recent series of webinars. In the first session, “How to Build a Perfect Setup and Business Model for Fibre Connectivity and Services,” Comptel CTO Simon Osborne was joined by analyst Dean Ramsay of Analysys Mason and product manager James Wheatley to discuss the market opportunity and ideal business model for fibre services.

Ramsay explained that, per Analysys Mason estimates, about 50 billion in U.S. dollars was spent on worldwide capital expenditures related to fibre-to-the-x (FTTX) capabilities. That was about 2 percent higher than 2014, said Ramsay, who added that more than half the world’s consumers will have access to fibre internet by 2020.

That would be an ideal outcome for many consumers, who are starved for faster internet to support complex home networks. The average household will run multiple fixed and mobile devices from a single home Wi-Fi network, and with bandwidth-greedy services like 4K video ready to enter more homes, demand will only increase in the years ahead. Ramsay explained that most consumers now know that fibre is the latest and greatest technology for fixed broadband services, which makes fibre capability an attractive marketing tool for operators.

Of course, to offer fibre, operators need to solve a number of infrastructure, network and service challenges. In his part of the presentation, GE’s James Wheatley explained how proper network design – focused on automation, optimisation and a single view to disparate networks – can help operators efficiently meet overwhelming demand for higher bandwidth services. He also offered best practices for aligning physical inventory to meet customer expectations around service availability and quality. Watch the first webinar here to learn more.

In the second webinar, Ramsay and Comptel’s Patrick Wijngaarden elaborated on our project with Chorus, a New Zealand-based operator that completed an aggressive fibre deployment in less than one year. “How Chorus Cut 40% of Service Delivery Time with Modernised Fulfilment” provides a strong case study for intelligent service fulfilment around fibre, as Chorus was able to roll out fibre to a majority of the country’s population thanks to an automated fibre provisioning process devised by GE and Comptel.

This type of intelligent network transformation, which limits disruption to the network while significantly increasing operator capabilities and service opportunities, provides a crucial blueprint to operators exploring fibre deployments. The third and final webinar in our series provided another compelling example, this time from POST Luxembourg, which navigated the delicate balance of a corporate split-off by adopting a more dynamic, efficient and automated fulfilment architecture to serve existing and future demands from customers. Watch “Agile Delivery Leading to Successful OSS Transformation” to learn more about that story.

As we’re seeing from worldwide activity, fibre will undoubtedly continue to be one of the top services those customers demand in the years ahead. Not only will fibre deployments help operators keep up with consumer expectations, but as Comptel VP North America Peter Middleton explained recently, fibre capabilities could also be the difference-maker that helps smaller operators compete with larger players in key markets like United States.

The only thing standing in the way? Network transformation. Chorus and POST Luxembourg proved that the network does not have to be an obstacle to service opportunity, as long as you know how to devise an intelligent and efficient strategy for evolution.

Watch the complete “Winning with Fibre” webinar series to catch up on the issues around fibre connectivity and to receive a blueprint for building the perfect business model for fibre connectivity and services.

Watch part 1: “How to Build a Perfect Setup and Business Model for Fibre Connectivity and Services

Watch part 2: “How Chorus Cut 40% Of Service Delivery Time with Modernized Fulfilment

Watch part 3: “Case Example – Agile Delivery Leading to Successful OSS Transformation


NFV World Congress 2016 Underscores Progress in NFV Implementations

Posted: May 20th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

By Stephen Lacey, Principal NFV Architect, CTO Office & Guest Author

Comptel was in attendance for the second annual NFV World Congress, held last month in Silicon Valley. Whereas the discussions at last year’s inaugural event were more academic in nature, this year’s conference showcased a number of compelling cases that demonstrate how network functions virtualisation (NFV) is taking a step toward becoming reality.

The week kicked off with a series of tutorials from the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the European Telecommunication Standard Institute’s (ETSI) Industry Specification Group (ISG) for NFV, and the Intel Network Builders (INB) – Comptel is a proud member of the latter two groups. Throughout the week, we also observed a number of presentations from operators driving home the reasons why they are exploring NFV implementations. Two reasons stood out:

  • The potential reductions in CAPEX/OPEX due to utilising ubiquitous general purpose hardware
  • The ability to achieve service flexibility and mix and match services.

NFV in Action

Japanese operator NTT offered a great example of the benefits of service flexibility. During a tsunami in 2014, the need for voice traffic capacity near the storm’s epicentre increased dramatically. There was plenty of capacity in the other parts of their network, so if NFV had been available at that time, NTT would have been able to offload data capacity to other parts of the network to increase voice capacity in areas that would have needed it most.

NTT was the only operator at NFV World Congress running two different virtualised evolved package core (vEPC) vendors on live deployments: NEC and Fujitsu.

AT&T, Verizon and the bulk of the operators speaking at the event said that virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) for enterprise-based services is the most compelling of the NFV use cases for them. When pressed, AT&T described how their customers had surprised them in the way they utilise services.

By using the AT&T ECOMP platform and EVPN as the bridging mechanisms for Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching, plus allowing their customers to chain virtual network functions together, customers enjoyed time-of-day-based services variation. For example, during the workday all branch offices had equal bandwidth to access the main datacentres, whereas after business hours those bandwidth allocations were lowered and higher bandwidth was assigned for datacentres to sync together.

Other operators said they are entrenched in NFV trials, but didn’t offer any behind-the-scenes information as to how those programs are progressing.

The Emergence of Open Source

Another important theme was the increasing mainstream relevance of open source projects, which major network equipment providers (NEPs) and communication services providers (CSPs) are relying on to prevent vendor lock-in within the network.

It seems 2016 is the year of orchestration wars, with two different open source projects exploring this aspect of network management and organization (MANO): Open Source MANO (OSM) and OPEN-Orchestrator (OPEN-O). It’s difficult to directly compare the two initiatives, since OSM is based on available software, whereas OPEN-O is only in its foundational stages.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to keep an eye on each initiative as they progress. Comptel recently participated in a partner showcase at TM Forum Live! alongside Telefonica, Indra and Etiya which proposed a hybrid network environment based on OSM.

NFV World Congress offered a compelling venue to explore how leading operators and vendors are actively experimenting with NFV implementation. As a few pioneering telcos embrace virtualisation within the network, these first forays will carve a clear path forward for the rest of the industry. Some will take the lead; others will simply follow.

Comptel’s proposed Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) model is just one example of how we are creating new possibilities for service orchestration through NFV implementation. Download a new whitepaper from Heavy Reading to learn more about this concept, and dive into the conversation on Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community.


#IoTNordic 2016 Recap: Spotlight on IoT Partnerships and Potential

Posted: May 17th, 2016 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Last month, a sold-out crowd of 500 IoT enthusiasts packed into Helsinki’s Kattilahalli conference hall for the Internet of Things 2016 Conference, also known as #IoTNordic. With a DJ playing live music throughout the two-day show, a saxophonist entertaining the crowd in the late afternoon happy hour and outdoor food vans offering tasty meals, the event offered a hip, modern and invigorating atmosphere for lively discussions on the potential and partnerships that define the IoT.

VP Luoma Comptel IoTNordic

Veli-Pekka Luoma, Comptel

Although environmentalism was a major theme (event organisers used recycled wooden pallets as booth tables, for example), the event and the attendees were focused on different kind of environment: the holistic IoT ecosystem. There was one common denominator: Nearly everyone in attendance, across industries, was looking for technology partners to help them build or expand their own ecosystem of connected device solutions.

Comptel sponsored #IoTNordic and presented a speaking session with our Director of Advanced Analytics for IoT, Veli-Pekka Luoma, about the vital role data plays in the Smart Living movement. Comptel’s Intelligent Fast Data solutions offer businesses the power to sense, understand and act instantly on data “across the board.” Connected devices are another data source that produces aggregated information, alongside customer interactions, the network, social media, location and more. Businesses stand to benefit tremendously by pulling insights from all those different sources and applying insights to real-time actions. Those actions lead to better IoT-enabled experiences.

Industry can remotely monitor heavy machinery to run a “smart factory.” Health care providers can track personal data to offer intelligent preventative care, fleet managers can optimise routes for cargo vehicles, utility providers can provide efficient energy solutions with smart meters, and much more.

It all starts with smarter data. Through experimentation, partnership and solution co-creation, businesses – including operators – can apply data analytics to elevate the IoT beyond simple machine-to-machine communications toward humanistic benefits. #IoTNordic offered several compelling examples of businesses that are already succeeding in the IoT.

Elisa’s IoT Innovation Challenge

Elisa VP Markku Hollström IoT Nordics

Elisa VP Markku Hollström

The Finnish operator Elisa has enjoyed many successes along its digital transformation. Its IoT service offering is one example. The company offers IoT connectivity, monitoring and analytics to a range of verticals, including a 3D real-time “Smart Factory” dashboard for industry, augmented reality solutions, and analytics-enriched monitoring and email notifications for the marine manufacturer Wärtsilä.

Elisa VP Markku Hollström explained that to succeed in the IoT, you need to experiment and develop a broad network of partners. That enables speed – the company profiled IoT projects that went from ideation to product in just six weeks. It’s also why the company is inviting businesses to participate in the Elisa Innovation Challenge, which will reward up to €85,000 in prizes to entrants who create innovative corporate and Smart Home IoT solutions.

Technology, Customer Experience the Focus for Tesla

Tesla IoT Nordic

Tesla presentation at IoT Nordic

The electric car manufacturer Tesla says it is not in the business of selling luxury vehicles. At the show, the company’s speaker said the company’s focus is actually in transitioning the world toward safer, sustainable transportation. The IoT plays a big role in that: Tesla says its vehicles are the most connected cars on Earth, and their mission is to incorporate technology to create a software-based, analytics-informed driving experience. Even their car buying experience is innovative; it’s entirely online, making it a modern, customer-focused approach to purchasing.

Are Device Implants the Future of Health?

Hannes Sjöblad, BioNyfiken

Hannes Sjöblad, BioNyfiken

Hannes Sjöblad of BioNyfiken presented a fascinating look at the role of NFC implants in human health, which his company says is humanity’s “personal key to the IoT”. This technology already exists – in fact, we saw a live demo at the end of his presentation of a human implant placed into a person’s hand. While also a bit scary, the demo did show the amazing potential of implanted devices to enable everyday individuals to “speak” to connected devices.

There are simple but very relevant use cases, like replacing keys, ID cards, tickets and boarding passes with implanted chips, and use cases that are more humanistic. Personalised chips could ensure a gun can’t be operated by an unauthorised user, for example, or even play a role in curing blindness, deafness and paralysis.

Securing the IoT

Of course, any conversation about the many uses cases for the IoT eventually falls back on security concerns. In his keynote speech, Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure explained that the IoT will only expand the number of threat vectors (how do you secure your Wi-Fi if it’s being shared by your refrigerator?), creating more opportunity for highly sophisticated cyber criminals and making it more difficult for consumers to maintain privacy.

The number and variety of IoT devices will make single-device protection impractical, said Hyppönen. F-Secure, for example, has no interest in developing anti-virus protection for your connected toaster. However, the company does develop full-home Wi-Fi security solutions to ensure every device on the network is secure. Furthermore, F-Secure compensates independent hackers who find holes in their security system, when many of those hackers may have otherwise sold that information to cyber criminals. It’s a good solution for F-Secure: Paying for hackers to find holes in your system is a clever and efficient way to find vulnerable spots in your environment.

As Hyppönen said, ”Web content is not free. It is paid for with your data. It’s paid for with your privacy. And it’s too late to change that. We have raised a whole new generation who are used to having content for ‘free’ on the web. And yet, we don’t understand what this means.”

That’s an important takeaway to keep in mind as businesses and operators tiptoe – or dive head-first – into the futuristic world of the IoT.

Learn more about the IoT opportunity for telco in a new whitepaper from Comptel and Heavy Reading. Download “Smart Cities & Smart Living: The Role of Telecom Operators.”


How Digital Service Lifecycle Management Delivers Speed, Configurability and Accuracy

Posted: May 16th, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Comptel participated in several partner showcases during last week’s TM Forum Live! 2016 in Nice, France, with one in particular reimagining the model of digital service delivery for the modern B2B and B2C customer.

As Comptel CTO Simon Osborne explained, Comptel partnered with IBM and Juniper Networks in an IBM Cloud-Based Networking architecture. The project introduces new strategies for leveraging software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualisation. As a result, operators can efficiently automate and reconfigure parts of their network to enable automated, self-service digital service delivery. As part of the partnership, we’re contributing our Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) model, technology and expertise.

Digital Service Lifecycle Management DSLM

Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) architecture

In an earlier blog, I explained why this needs to happen. B2B and B2C customers today want personalisation, convenience and instant gratification in the purchasing process. Operators need to evolve their infrastructure to deliver better customer experiences to stay competitive, and network virtualisation gives operators the agility and flexibility they need to do so.

The key to introducing new capabilities gradually – since complete network overhauls aren’t practical for most operators – is to introduce “islands” of NFV capabilities into the network. On top of that, fresh approaches to managing the interconnection between physical and virtual resources will ensure operators can achieve this agility quickly, and at minimal cost.

In this post, I’ll explain just how you do that.

What is Digital Service Lifecycle Management

Comptel first introduced DSLM in our white paper – Digital Service Lifecycle Management: How CSPs Can Play a Successful Role in the Digital Economy. As Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell wrote, operators today face competition from cloud-born companies like Google and Amazon, which have the infrastructure flexibility to spin up attractive new digital services much faster than the average operator.

Portraying the future role of operators as aggregators of digital services (from which the average consumer and business could buy whatever services they need to fill out their “personal digital ecosystems”), Chappell said network evolution is required to enable “on-demand personalised service creation.”

Digital Service Lifecycle Management DSLM layers

Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) layers

DSLM is how you evolve the network. It’s the middle portion of a three-tiered system that decides how virtual and physical network resources are managed to support service requests from front office systems.

How the Three-Tiered DSLM Model Works

This NFV-driven model requires three layers: one for resource management, one for digital service lifecycle management and one for business management.

The customer only ever sees the business management layer, which sits at the top and comprises the shopping environment, order configuration and payment tools. Customers configure and purchase services available through a digital catalogue, and automated ordering and billing capabilities ensure customer requests are quickly passed on for configuration and fulfillment.

The middle digital service lifecycle layer manages service composition through the service orchestration tool and the digital service catalogue. At this level, each new customer order is automatically checked for feasibility and availability, based on digital service definitions, service level agreements and inventory. That improves order quality and eliminates false service availability promises, which cuts down on customer dissatisfaction and the risk of order fallouts.

The resource management layer sits at the bottom and includes the infrastructure management tools and controllers that support physical and virtual network functions. When a customer inquiry for a new digital service arrives, this layer determines how best to deploy resources to fulfil that request.

With this NFV-driven model, operators can offer B2C and B2B customers alike a fast, accurate and automated, self-service buying experience. The digital catalogue can be scaled to include any new service, from your standard consumer or business IT and communications services, to network functionality, to IoT connectivity, to third-party SaaS solutions. That means operators can add to their capabilities as the digital economy grows and consumer demand evolves.

Where DSLM Fits in to IBM’s Cloud-Based Network

We brought our DSLM model to the IBM partnership, and it’s supported by FLOWONE, our service orchestration solution. Sitting in the middle between IBM’s Omni-channel Customer Engagement, and on top of a range of resource services and infrastructure tools that include Juniper’s NFV orchestration and infrastructure management solutions, it brings our vision for NFV-based fulfillment to reality.

The IBM Cloud-based Networking architecture was introduced recently at TM Forum’s Live! event but you can read more in the IBM Blog by Steven Teitzel, Telco Global Solution Exec – Network Transformation, IBM.

We invite you to visit Comptel at the Light Reading Big Communications Event in Austin 24-25th May to learn more about the Comptel model for dynamic digital service lifecycle management. Email ComptelMarketing@Comptel.com to schedule a meeting. Alternatively follow our updates and activity on Twitter (@shateley & @Comptelcorp) or via our LinkedIn feed.

You can also read more about the initiative from Comptel’s Simon Osborne, or catch up on our view of digital service lifecycle management through Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community.


Comptel Partnerships to Introduce Fresh Digital Service Approaches at TM Forum Live! 2016

Posted: May 6th, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Technology partnerships are crucial to innovation in telecommunications. At next week’s TM Forum Live! 2016, Comptel will demonstrate the outcome of several recent industry collaborations, all of which are designed to introduce new approaches to digital service delivery, customer engagement, data monetisation and networking.

Comptel is taking part in three distinct partner-driven initiatives, including two TM Forum Catalysts, individually led by Telefonica and Orange; and an IBM-led digital service architecture blueprint. The ultimate objective of each initiative is to open operators’ eyes to new possibilities for infrastructure management, service delivery and offer creation through NFV service orchestration and intelligent fast data management.

Our contributions vary by project. In two of the cases, we’re putting the digital service lifecycle management (DSLM) model that we introduced in Nexterday: Volume II, with our FLOWONE service orchestration technology, managing forward-looking approaches to service delivery. In the third project, we’re supplying expertise and technology in the creation of a new, progressive data monetisation strategy.

Forward-thinking approaches are crucial at a time when customers desire fast, intelligent, personalised offers. Operators are also keen to take advantage of dynamic, intelligent, highly automated and virtualised network environments to speed up innovation, time-to-market and to improve security.

Here’s what you can expect from each partnership, with guidance on how you can learn more and engage with Comptel and our partners at TM Forum Live! 2016.

IBM’s Target Architecture for Cloud-Based Networking

Comptel, IBM and Juniper Networks have developed a new approach to digital service delivery for B2B and B2C customers, incorporating an orchestration and fulfillment architecture that allows operators to better manage end-to-end service lifecycles in complex hybrid networks of virtualised and non-virtualised services.

The architecture is based on our DSLM proposition, which you can read more about in a recent blog from our CTO Simon Osborne. The end-game is a network that’s able to automatically and dynamically deploy network capabilities and agile services in a way that gives customers automated, self-service digital service purchasing and delivery.

To learn more, visit the IBM booth at TM Forum Live!

Open Source NFV Service Orchestration and Lifecycle Management Catalyst with Telefonica

Comptel is also participating in two TM Forum Catalysts, which are proof-of-concept initiatives that encourage technology partnerships in the name of industry innovation.

The first is the NFV Service Orchestration and Lifecycle Management based on Open Source MANO Catalyst – sponsored by Telefonica. Along with Indra and Etiya, the initiative centres on Open Source MANO (OSM), an ETSI project to develop an open source stack for NFV management and orchestration, demonstrated here within a hybrid network environment.

DSLM also plays a crucial role in this Catalyst, as does our FLOWONE V service orchestration solution. The aim is to test the OSM software stack in a practical context and analyse how it needs to evolve to be production-ready.

To learn more about this Catalyst, join Telefonica and Comptel for our theatre session on Tuesday, May 11, 14:30-14:50 at the Catalyst Theatre.

Orange’s Catalyst on a Mobile Sponsored Data Business Model

Finally, Comptel will take part in an Orange-championed Catalyst, “New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data,” which also includes partners Salesforce and CloudSense, plus Sigma Systems and DataMi. We’ve contributed our Intelligent Fast Data technology and capabilities to illustrate how enterprises can sponsor mobile customer data usage as a way to incentivise the use of enterprise digital services, increase data engagement, collect usage data and apply policy control.

To learn more about this Catalyst, attend our session titled “New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data” at the Catalyst Theatre on Wednesday, May 12, 13:40-14:00.

Comptel is proud to partner with each of these technology leaders in collaborative efforts to introduce new solutions to communications. Whether it’s by improving digital service delivery through new infrastructure models, further developing OSM, or enhancing customer engagement through the creation of new business models, we’re excited to pioneer digital transformation. We can’t wait to share our progress with attendees at TM Forum Live! 2016.

Visit TM Forum’s Catalyst Zone to see these Catalyst demonstrates in action. To arrange a meeting with Comptel at TM Forum Live! 2016, email comptelmarketing@comptel.com

Learn more about the orchestration capabilities of Comptel’s FLOWONE and download a copy of the Comptel and Heavy Reading research report, “Digital Service Lifecycle Management: How Communications Service Providers Can Play a Successful Role in the Digital Economy.”

You can also learn more about how Comptel is enables operators and global enterprises to act on Intelligent Fast Data in our recent Intelligent Data webinar.