The analyst firm Analysys Mason has released a new Comptel Company Profile, recognising Comptel as one of world’s leading data processing vendors. The report also lists our DATA REFINERY software suite as a top-six mediation solution when ranked by worldwide marketshare.
The report, titled “Comptel: digital transformation,” analyses Comptel’s overall product portfolio, 2015 financials and strategic direction. DATA REFINERY is based on Comptel’s award-winning EventLink technology, providing a software suite for convergent mediation, roaming management and enterprise data processing software products. It provides a comprehensive and productised data integration solution with over 1,000 off-the-shelf online, real-time and offline interfaces.
Across the world, 150 operators trust Comptel’s data processing to turn massive amounts of raw data into valuable, purpose-driven, real-time actions. Operators of all sizes and volumes rely on DATA REFINERY, including India’s Bharti Airtel, Indonesia’s Indosat, Argentina’s Telefonica, Saudi Arabia’s Mobily, Denmark’s TDC and The Netherlands’ Ziggo. In all, Comptel processes more than 20 percent of the world’s mobile usage data through our software solutions.
DATA REFINERY plays an important role in supporting the Digital Customer Journey, which is all about applying better technologies and data-driven business strategies and models to improve the way telcos engage and serve their customers in a personalised and contextual way.
Within that journey, DATA REFINERY provides a layer of intelligent fast data to enable real-time decisions and actions. The software has the capacity to capture and process vast amounts of raw data in-stream. As a totally vendor, technology, and service agnostic solution, DATA REFINERY captures data of any type and from any source, including social media, apps, connected devices, networks, locational data and services. It then refines that data with important contextual information and sends it on to the next stage of its journey – all in real time.
As a result, DATA REFINERY allows telcos to build a 360° profile of their customers based on diverse data sources. That profile is then available for other business systems, allowing telcos to craft intelligent, individualised service offerings, customer programs and more. Additionally, DATA REFINERY hides all technical complexity between the network and OSS/BSS layers through a unifying processing layer.
To provide a perfect, personalised Digital Customer Journey, DATA REFINERY’s intelligent data fabric works seamlessly with two other pillars of that journey: FASTERMIND™ for customer engagement automation and MONETIZER™ for agile service monetisation. All three software suites rely on the same EventLink technology platform, benefiting from common capabilities such as a broad online and offline interface library, programmed and automated fast data processing, operational intelligence, business and operations reporting and a Software Development Kit (SDK).
Together, the solutions within the Digital Customer Journey help telcos take advantage of a rapidly changing landscape, one in which the customer is in control. Our solutions allow telcos to compete and win on the basis of customer engagement, with personalised and contextually relevant content, offers and services.
We’re proud to be recognised by Analysys Mason alongside other top players in the mediation market. To learn more, download “Comptel: digital transformation,” a company profile from Analysys Mason.
Here’s an existential question: if you don’t think or talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), do you even exist?
With the increasing number of IoT use cases on display at telco events, that could soon be the reality. It’s no surprise to hear that, according to the findings from the Mobile World Live Annual Industry Survey, IoT is the most attractive new business area for businesses in 2017. IoT, together with 5G, NFV/SDN, artificial intelligence, analytics, and automation, was among the most frequently discussed, debated and showcased topics at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Discussions at MWC17 focused not on IoT theory, but rather the practical development of IoT applications and solutions, along with tangible real-life use cases. IoT solutions are expected to make life easier, healthier and smarter, and help to conserve the scarcest resource in an individual’s life: time. The solutions keep cities cleaner, safer and more secure. Tens of billions of sensors and connected devices will allow the digital economy to impact every aspect of our lives and improve the quality of life.
A number of these use cases were on showcase at MWC17, ranging from health services to IoT-enabled camera drones, location services to smart lighting, fitness to augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), smart factories to connected dogs, and autonomous cars to self-service retail stores, to mention a few. Never before MWC had exhibited so much IoT, with leading Tier-1 operators demoing a range of practical solutions including a theft prevention solution for cars, mopeds and bikes, smart rubbish collection, livestock tracking, remote city lighting control, and remote health monitoring.
The conversation also revolved around the IoT network, including looks at LoRa, Sigfox, NB-IoT, LTE-M and 5G. 5G was heavily discussed throughout MWC17, in particularly in relation to certain IoT use cases like driverless cars, robo-taxis and remote surgical operations that mandate ultra-low ’millisecond’ latency, vast amounts of data, and frictionless, stable and high bandwidth data speeds. For example, Renault-Nissan has set a goal to roll out 10 car models with autonomous driver functionality by 2020. At the same time, LoRa Alliances and Sigfox are both rapidly expanding globally: LoRa, with its 400+ strong member alliance, has 34 publicly announced operators and Sigfox is already available in over 30 countries.
Discussions around advanced sensor technology noted the remarkable size and duration of the batteries that power these devices. IoT-enabled sensors are extremely small, but their batteries can last for up to 10 years, enabling the long-term monitoring of movement, location, temperature, skin moisture, activity, blood pressure, heart beat and many more factors. We also learned about a new material called Graphene – invented in 2004 and later the subject of a Nobel prize in physics – that enables the development of entirely new active sensors that could even be installed inside the human body.
Far away are times when MWC was just a showcase for telecom technology. Other industries presence has become a norm, the IoT is enabling the creation of intelligent and connected systems that will mean the entry of more new players, startups and industries at MWC. Car manufacturers, financial service providers, media companies, medical companies, smart city operators, transportation companies, retailers, industrial companies, agricultural entities and many more are involved or starting to get involved as they try to get their hands on with the latest transformative IoT solution.
At the same time, operators certainly need to talking to those businesses to seek new avenues of revenue growth. By enabling digital services for IoT, telcos can dramatically expand their number of potential customers enjoying digital services. In time, operators will see, meet and cooperate with many more of these use-case driven players in events like MWC.
We’re winding down after an incredibly exciting and energetic few days in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017. The team here at Comptel has set a goal to out-do itself at every annual MWC by making an even bigger impact than the year before. We definitely feel we accomplished that this year, with so much going on:
Check out how our booth, which doubled as a video game screen, came together:
Thanks to all those who paid a visit to our booth – it was well-visited, meeting rooms were fully-booked and we had a busy few days showcasing our solutions to customers, partners, analysts and media.
As for the full show, #MWC17 also had plenty to offer in terms of insights, announcements and industry excitement. Here are a few takeaways from several top keynotes last week:
John Stankey: Customers are The Ultimate Barometer of Success
In his keynote, AT&T CEO John Stankey said that the voice of today’s telco customer carries more weight than it has in the history of the telco industry. Customers want appreciation, personalisation and simplicity. They want to live their life on their terms and to get more for less. CSPs need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable to live up to the expectations of today’s customers, said Stankey.
To succeed, telcos must build engaging digital platforms. What matters the most is how many hours your customers spend on your platform and how much of your full range of personalised services and content they enjoy, he added.
Stankey listed what he believes are the main engagement principles for future telco platforms:
Video will be the dominant playing field
Multi-sided business models will remain important
Content that is compelling matters
Integration matters for value and convenience
The product is software
Most importantly, the product is software that captures the customer’s imagination. Vertically integrated products do not have a future any more, said Stankey. Instead, it’s all about software that goes beyond ubiquitous connectivity, contributing to greater customer experience and a stronger emotional bond to content. Software is the product wrapper that reengineers entertainment and glues everything together.
Vivendi on the Future of Mobile Content
With strong positions in music, entertainment and gaming, Vivendi has a unique perspective on the various types of digital content today’s mobile consumer craves. In his keynote, CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine explained that telcos will be able to offer mobile content through partnerships with companies like Vivendi.
The company’s mobile short studio, called Studio+, produces 10 episodes of a series, with each episode at 10-minutes in length, a model that de Puyfontaine said is perfect for bite-size mobile content experiences. His company is now developing telco partnerships to roll out the content, which in turns helps CSPs dip their toes into an innovative digital service channel.
Vivendi tried to purchase its own telco subsidiaries in the early 2000s, he explained, but that failed strategy pointed the company toward a more flexible horizontal convergence model. Strategically, telco partnerships will provide Vivendi and its partners scale and agility, said de Puyfontaine.
Disruption at the Network Edge
Executives from three mobile leaders – Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia – discussed the importance of edge computing to serving the new mobile economy. The panel included Günther Ottendorfer, COO, Technology at Sprint, Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO at Deutsche Telekom and Michael Clever, SVP Mobile Broadband at Nokia.
Edge computing brings network functions physically closer to the consumer to, among other things, dramatically reduce network latency. A number of factors drive this trend, including the growing number of connected devices (from VR/AR to connected cars) that require continuous broadband connectivity, and the emergence of 5G. For example, Sprint is diversifying its core network by deploying thousands of small cells instead of microcell towers, according to Ottendorfer.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom has joined the Telecom Infra Project, a community initiative to re-imagine how telco networks support data-intensive services like video and virtual reality. According to Jacobfeuerborn, video will account for 80 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2021, which means telcos need to work now to bring better connectivity closer to the consumer.
Nokia’s Clever spoke to the benefits of new network technologies – including a shared data layer and a stateless machine architecture – to introduce endless capacity, scale and robustness to the network. Real-time analytics of network data could radically reduce the complexity and costs of the network and help telcos generate new revenue streams by better leveraging network assets and customer data, Clever said.
It’s an exciting time at Comptel! Our team is counting down the days to Mobile World Congress 2017, one of the biggest events of the year.
We have so much to announce and discuss, including the release of our new book, “Nexterday: Volume III,” and the results from our new research report, “The Power of Personal.”
As the third volume in our Nexterday series, the book covers the most important steps you as a telco need to take in your digital customer and service journeys. The research, which includes an official report, eBook, infographic and videos, surveyed real mobile customers to give you a better sense of their expectations for personalisation.
If you’re heading to Barcelona, you can get your hands on a hard copy of the new book and our research report by visiting our booth in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40, or you can email email@example.com to book an individual meeting.
But, those aren’t the only reasons to meet up with Comptel at #MWC17. Here’s a few more:
We’re Hosting a Fireside Briefing with Deutsche Telekom
Telcos hear all about the importance of network innovation, but what does it really look like in practice? Our fireside briefing is the perfect opportunity to find out.
On 28 February at 6 pm, visit the Comptel booth for an in-depth panel discussion about the Deutsche Telekom Pan-Net project, which will cover everything you need to know about DT’s ambitious plan to centralise digital service production for 13 national companies in one location. The panellists include:
Sven Hischke, Managing Director, Deutsche Telekom Pan-Net
Iulian Stoica Petrescu, Pan-Net Enterprise Architect, Telekom Romania
Juhani Hintikka, CEO, Comptel
Antti Koskela, EVP Service Orchestration, Comptel
Martin Beyer, Sales Director, Comptel
I’ll be moderating the discussion, and there will be a brief period for Q&A. The DT Pan-Net story is a really remarkable story of network innovation and disruption, so you won’t want to miss this chat.
We’re Talking Customer Engagement with Salesforce
Right after the Deutsche Telekom panel, I’ll cover off some of the top highlights of our “Power of Personal” research report, which explains how personalisation can be a difference-maker for service creation and revenue generation.
Then, Comptel EVP Intelligent Data Niilo Fredrikson and Salesforce Director of Product Management Communications Mustafa Oyumi will introduce our joint “Best Next Engagement” solution, which will provide a model and method to achieve powerful customer engagement. Don’t miss it.
We’re Hosting a Party at Esferic
Salesforce is also joining us to throw the coolest #MWC17 party in town, on Wednesday 1 March at 7 pm at Esferic. We’ll have live music, an open bar and finger food, plus plenty of networking opportunities. Tickets are free but limited to just 300 spots – be sure to follow Comptel on LinkedIn or stop by our booth to pick up your ticket!
We’re Smashing Telco Myths and Hosting #Nexterday Demos
Sick of hearing the same tired telco myths over and over? We are too, so we’re setting up a Telco MythSmasher in our booth, where you can stop by and destroy the most annoying misconceptions about service transformation and customer experience. You’ll have the chance to compete – the top three myth smashers will get a cool prize for their mobile device.
While you’re at the booth, be sure to ask for a demo of our new solutions, including:
Digital Customer Journey – Personalised digital services, at your fingertips. Check out:
My Digital Moments, which leverages the capabilities of FASTERMIND and MONETIZER
Salesforce customer engagement powered by Comptel FASTERMIND
FWD, the Digital Sales Channel. An easy and contextual way for operators to boost ARPU and increase digital service consumption by selling time-based data access.
Digital Service Journey – OSS modernisation through to full Digital Service Lifecycle Management with the FlowOne suite
IoTed™ – An IoT-driven app that helps users answer the question “Are you well?”
Comptel is planning to make this year’s show our biggest and best Mobile World Congress yet, and we want to join the fun. Find us in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40, or email firstname.lastname@example.org right now to book an individual meeting.
If you’re in telco, you’ve heard a lot about transformation, enough that you’re probably even sick of the word. We feel the same way, so we want to help move our industry move past the point where we talk about change and toward the point of actually creating change. Our message is simple: stop overthinking and start doing.
Our latest book, Nexterday: Volume III¸ brings this message to life. Building off our first two books – Operation Nexterday and Nexterday: Volume II – this edition introduces new thoughts, ideas, and success stories from contributors both within and outside the world of telco. The objective is to give you practical next steps to evolve and grow your business in this rapidly changing digital landscape.
We’ll be publishing all of the articles from Nexterday: Volume III on an ongoing basis at Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community. Visitors to our booth (Hall 5 at Stand 5G40) at Mobile World Congress 2017 can receive a hard copy – but these are limited, so make sure to stop by early to get your copy!
Here’s what you can expect from Nexterday: Volume III.
What’s your journey?
When you step back and consider digital transformation from a 30,000-foot view, you can see that operators really have two potential paths to take: the customer journey and the service journey.
The Digital Customer Journey Telcos want to deliver a better customer experience (on average, operators have a net promoter score of 6, compared to 70 for over-the-top (OTT) service providers), and an omnichannel customer experience. So, the digital customer journey is all about the strategies, technologies and business models they take to improve the customer experience, favouring individualised engagement, marketing and sales approaches for B2B and B2C customers. This journey is all about saying “No” to bad customer engagement.
The Digital Service Lifecycle Journey Operators today need to create, deliver and support complex “living” digital services, but existing networks are too over-built, locked-in and inflexible to support modern service creation. This journey is about the steps operators can take to change their network reality, and it involves concepts and models like virtualisation and end-to-end hybrid service delivery to achieve network flexibility and agility. This journey is all about saying “No” to the monolithic franken-systems of the past.
Most frequently, we have seen the most forward-thinking service providers embark on one of these journeys, or both at the same time.
What’s in Nexterday: Volume III
Nexterday: Volume III tells you everything you need to know to get started, or to take the next step if you’re already following either path. We brought in some of the brightest minds from within and outside telco to share their expertise and insights, including:
Mike Walsh – a business expert who shares the simplest, most practical path to business transformation
Jon Wolske – the customer service expert from Zappos Insights who explains how you can be, first and foremost, a customer service company (that just happens to sell digital services)
David Meerman Scott – the sales and marketing guru who describes how real-time marketing powers a more efficient, results-driving marketing engine
Stefan Moritz – an expert on the customer experience, who explains how the most successful customer-focused companies did it by backing up their brand story with actual action
Stewart Rogers – the VentureBeat Insights researcher provides new data showing the biggest marketing opportunity companies are missing out on today
Dean Ramsay – the Analysys Mason analyst writes about the important role of inventory management in network transformation
Rich Karpinski – the 451 Research analyst breaks down the top US telcos and describes how each one is attempting to disrupt this mature market
Fredrik Jungermann – the tefficient analyst profiles the big return of unlimited data to operator service plans, and explains how top operators around the world incorporate this benefit
Stan Hubbard – The MEF Group director describes the two network qualities needed to offer better customer engagement and service delivery
Mustafa Oyumi – The Salesforce exec talks about the customer engagement model operators need in a modern service environment
Luca Decarli – the customer engagement expert describes how Saudi Telecom Company reorganized its business to deliver a higher quality of service
Antonio Elizondo – the Telefónica exec profiles OpenSource MANO and its key role in the development of an NFV ecosystem
Bengt Nordström – the Northstream charts the growth and future prospects of 5G connectivity
David Ho – From Kiina Investment, David provides a fascinating look at the digital technologies that are taking shape in China
Markku Hollström – Elisa’s IoT expert describes the ambitious IoT project that won international praise and provides an example for other telcos to follow
Velipekka Kuoppala – the Soracom VP writes about the model telcos and businesses need to secure the IoT
We also have insights from many Comptel contributors discussing everything from IoT, rating and mediation, NFV innovation, customer engagement, plus new research into consumer desires for personalised services.
Nexterday: Volume III is a comprehensive look at the state of our industry today, but, most importantly, it provides a practical guide for you to take the next step in your digital journey. Remember, it’s time to stop overthinking and start doing. Get our book to find out how.
Meet with Comptel at Mobile World Congress to get a copy of Nexterday: Volume III. Visit our booth in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40 or email email@example.com.
By Niilo Fredriksen, Executive Vice President, Intelligent Data
A word of caution for all mobile operators: there’s a 50/50 chance your customers feel like you don’t actually care about them.
That’s what Comptel found when we commissioned a survey of 2,000 mobile data users in the US and the UK. Our new research report, The Power of Personal, reports that 52 percent of mobile customers feel like they are treated as just another nameless subscriber by their providers.
Obviously, that’s a problem that could lead to churn. Customers that feel valued are three times more likely to stay loyal to their provider, according to our research. Those that don’t feel valued leave, and 59 percent of respondents said they were not fully satisfied with their providers.
So how do you make sure your customers are happy, loyal advocates for your business? Personalisation offers a solution, and the survey found that it’s what mobile customers want from their providers.
In total, 55 percent of respondents said they would be open to receiving more proactive, personalised messages and services from their providers. But, only 13 percent has ever received this type of message.
Respondents said they were favourable to receiving all sorts of different messages, including:
An alert when they’ve reached their data cap
A notification when they’re about to trigger data roaming charges
A message when they’re using more data than usual
But it’s not just about warnings and alerts. According to our research, customers are also open to personalised messages about service offers, whether it’s a discounted data plan, sponsored data plan or a completely tailored plan that fits their exact needs based on service consumption. The key word, though, is personal. If you send customers an offer that doesn’t seem relevant to them, you’re not going to achieve anything but annoying them.
Service providers know a lot about their customers. It’s high time they started to use that data more intelligently to provide better more individualised services and to use that information to save customers money and build much longer lasting loyalty than is the current model. Our report gives you the guidance you need to do that.
Operators are on a journey to become true digital telcos. Rich Karpinski, a US-based analyst for 451 Research, recently explored how Comptel’s FASTERMIND™helps put CSPs on the fast track to becoming offer-driven, digitally-savvy operators.
“Few vendors have as a pure a vision of how mobile operators must evolve to become digital service providers as Comptel. It speaks the language, understands the requirements, absorbs and applies the use cases.”
Transforming operators into Digital Service Providers is at the heart of Comptel’s Nexterday vision. To execute on that vision, Comptel recently launched the FASTERMIND™ suite at Nexterday North 2016, to provide artificial intelligence applications for digital telcos. FASTERMIND™ recommends, predicts and automates real-time decisions, particularly supporting customer engagement automation.
“Rather than rely on a small handful of customer segment buckets and static, non-real-time campaigns to drive out offers, FASTERMIND’s monitoring and analytics tools work with other Comptel platforms – Monetizer for policy control and charging and Data Refinery for mediation and data processing – to allow operators to deliver more real-time, personalized and contextually relevant offers.”
Comptel’s Nexterday vision and strategy has garnered a great deal of attention in the market, and we are pleased to secure external analyst recognition for this new FASTERMIND™ suite, and also for our work in helping CSPs to evolve into DSPs by rethinking and redesigning customer engagement with real-time and contextual best-next-action offers.
“It’s not about bundling a digital ‘service’ like Dropbox or Netflix or simply offering a few new mobile data plan options. Rather, it’s a rethinking of how mobile operators interact with their customers, understanding their real-time needs and wants and having the analytics, decision-making and network execution capabilities to hit them with the right offer at the right time.”
Comptel’s Nexterday vision focuses on providing customers with an outstanding and memorable digital experience. By coupling FASTERMIND’s time-sensitive, contextual and personalised recommendations, with MONETIZER™, an easy-to-use tool for the rapid design of policy and pricing offers, and DATA REFINERY™, which captures a real-time 360° view of the customer, CSPs are fully equipped for future business growth.
“More aggressively than almost any competitor, Comptel has swallowed the ‘red pill’ and sent itself fully down the digital telco path.”
Rich Karpinski’s full report, Comptel speeds operator offer decision-making with FASTERMIND can be downloaded here.
Comptel will be exhibiting at MWC17 in Barcelona February 27 – March 2, 2017. Meet with us at stand #5G40, Hall 5 to learn more about our Nexterday vision and FASTERMIND™ for customer engagement automation.
Customer experience is the new battleground for telcos. Forrester Research found that 72 percent of companies say that improving customer experience is their top priority. As a provider, if you can engage your customer at the right time with the right personalised service, you have an opportunity to deliver value, establish loyalty and grow your business.
So, what do customers want? To start, they expect full control of their digital life, and the freedom to build their own personal ecosystem of apps and services.
That’s why Comptel launched “My Digital Moments,” a new solution that enables perfect digital customer journeys. With My Digital Moments, customers will benefit from a self-service app on their phone that, in real-time, analyses how they consume digital services. From there, the app can recommend relevant and personalised digital services that would improve their experience.
My Digital Moments opens the door to several value-driving possibilities:
Service offerings that are proactive, personalised, relevant and contextual
Increased customer engagement and communication through a direct line to the operator
Improved engagement by giving customers direct visibility into their plan status and special packages
From the main screen, customers are able to view real-time service usage information, including the percentage of the data they’ve used in this cycle and their data usage trend across specific apps. On top of that, the app can display the operator’s full service portfolio, including new service plans or promotional packages from the portfolio.
My Digital Moments relies on real-time usage monitoring and intelligence from FASTERMIND™ to recommend, predict and automate customer offers based on the most relevant and contextual data. For example, a customer who consumes a lot of mobile data watching Netflix but does not currently have sufficient mobile data could receive an offer for a data plan with unlimited Netflix streaming.
My Digital Moments is also supported by MONETIZER™, which offers the easy and agile configuration of data plans, plus a common platform for charging and policy design. The result puts full control in the hands of your customers, meaning they can self-select relevant, contextual plans or instantly upgrade their data speeds and allocation in the moment.
Of course, new service opportunities can crop up at any time – not just according to your campaign schedule. That’s why My Digital Moments is supported by closed-loop analysis and service recommendations, which means service usage is monitored on an ongoing and real-time basis to ensure your customers are constantly engaged and presented with easy opportunities to get the services they need.
The solution puts the power in the hands of consumers, giving them the opportunity to build their personal digital ecosystems while empowering operators to increase service consumption, reveal new revenue opportunities and nurture loyal, long-term customers.
Heading to Mobile World Congress 2017? Meet with Comptel in Barcelona to learn more about My Digital Moments and our full portfolio of customer engagement solutions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting.
In 2016, Comptel focused on extending our Nexterday message and encouraging operators to stop over-thinking and start doing what they need to do to transform their businesses. The energy and excitement we felt at Nexterday North 2016, our second annual anti-seminar, told us that many operators are doing just that, turning the big ideas they hear around the industry into game-changing results.
Here on the Comptel blog, we always want to give room for those big ideas to take shape. Let’s take a look back on some of the top pieces – and ideas – we wrote in the past year.
All operators are on a journey to better serve their customers. The activities they take in this area can be put into two categories – customer transformation and network transformation. In this piece, we explained exactly what the personalised customer journey is all about, and offered a model for how operators can win the hearts and minds of their customers.
The new iPhone UI looks a lot like the old iPhone UI, which tells you how iterative many of Apple’s latest updates have become. In this blog, we proposed that it’s time the OSS embraced a design overhaul, and explained exactly how the OSS of the future should look to offer the same ease of use you might expect from an iOS product.
2016 was also a busy year for Comptel and our partners. At TM Forum Live! in Nice, we were involved in three separate industry catalysts, each led by a Comptel partner. There was Telefonica’s Open Source MANO project, Orange’s sponsored data initiative, and IBM’s cloud-based networking architecture. These cross-industry initiatives are so important to Comptel because they keep us on the forefront of innovation. We want to lend our expertise in a way that benefits the entire industry, and we’re proud to stand alongside these partners in that effort.
Our digital service lifecycle management (DSLM) model was a major theme for us in 2016, and in the Spring we put it to the test as part of the IBM Cloud Based Initiative. In this post, we explain exactly why and how digital service delivery needs to change to serve a new breed of digital customer.
Innovation abounds in connectivity, and 5G represents one of many emerging frontiers for investment and development. In the U.S., regulators opened up spectrum for telco experimentation, and in this post we covered the challenges that lay ahead for telcos who dipped their toes in this industry.
Pokémon GO was a huge mobile gaming craze in the summer of 2016, and T-Mobile jumped on the buzzworthy topic by offering players one year’s worth of free mobile data exclusively to play the game. It was another example of a savvy sponsored data play that shows other operators how they creatively leverage data access to win over digital customers.
In 2016 we also launched Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community. You can read much more of our writing on digital transformation, customer experience and network innovation there.
Comptel Offer Example Templates to the Open Marketplace
There remains no doubt that virtualization is shaking the foundations of the telecommunications industry and is here to stay. As the technology continues to mature and evolve, use cases become more realistic and so do the requirements to represent the service specifications that allow their programmatic utilization and consumption.
Several standards organizations have laid proposals to this purpose and there appears to be consensus that, in the Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) case at least, TOSCA NFV appears to be positioning itself as the preferred option for operators and vendors alike.
The Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) is a data model standard managed by industry group OASIS that can be used to orchestrate Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) services and applications. TOSCA does this through a collection of information models and templates to orchestrate applications seamlessly across multiple cloud domains which is ideal for network functions that are virtualized and deployed in datacentres.
[Comptel] has taken the information that’s publicly available and created some examples that we would like to share with the broader community.
Use Case: vEPC Core Network CSAR
A basic representation of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) Network Service Descriptor (NSD) composed of four Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) as shown in Figure 1 below. In addition, every node has a connection to a common management network.
Figure 1: vEPC Architecture & Interfaces
The CSAR file contains metadata, the service templates or specifications, images and the corresponding scripts for the VNFs themselves. Figure 2 shows the structure of the file.
Figure 2: CSAR file structure
As displayed in Figure 3, the metadata file contains in line 4, a pointer to the main driving template, in this case the overall vEPC NSD which will link to the individual nodes (e.g. VNFs) and their relationship and corresponding connectivity.
Figure 3: Contents of metadata file (TOSCA.meta)
The Network Service Design
The NSD provides the global overview (refer to snapshot below) on how the different components (e.g. VNFs, VLs, FGs, etc.) come together. Lines 9 thru 13 point to the VNF templates, in this case for every VNF.
The individual VNFs are described in lines 26, 37, 49 and 58 respectively. They contain a reference to the type, the list of (virtual) networks they are connected to and in those cases where applicable, a declaration of the forwarding graph capabilities (e.g. lines 45, 46 and 47). Additional details on the VNF themselves are contained on their own descriptors (VNFDs) which are shown later.
Next are the details of the external connection points (CPs). These are demarcation points for the NSD as depicted in Figure 4 and they are described in lines 65, 73, 81 and 89.
Figure 4: External Connection Points
Finally, the networks interconnecting the VNFs themselves. In this case, all networks are point-to-point connections (e.g. ELINE) except for the management one, which is shared across all VNFs (ELAN). Every declaration, as seen in lines 97, 108, 113, 119, 125, 131 and 137 indicates the number of network entities attached to them.
The Virtualised Network Function Descriptor
The VNFDs provide details on the specifications of the individual nodes. The vPDN GW descriptor is shown below as a reference. Starting on line 42 the connectivity is described. This VNF requires two computational resources as expressed on line 48 (VDU1 & VDU2). Two of its interfaces (CP21 & CP22) are enabled to support Forwarding Graphs (line 51). In this specific case, four standard transactions types are supported through self-contained scripts: create, configure, stop and delete (line 54). The interfaces and their respective networks can be appreciated in general the topology depicted in Figure 5.
Figure 5: PDNGW_VNF Topology
At the end of the VNFD template are two Forwarding Paths (Line 144 and 151). They represent the incoming and outgoing traffic for the PDN gateway. Figure 6 and Figure 7 provide a visual perspective of the traffic flows they control.
Figure 6: Forwarding Path1 on VNFD
Figure 7: Forwarding Path2 on VNFD
NSD_vEPC.yaml – File contents:
vPDNGW_VNF.yaml – File contents:
The standards provide enough tools to cover the most general of use cases, but we expect to see future updates that can target elements of the service description that represent more complex and realistic scenarios, for instance:
Quality of Experience (QoE) or in general Quality of Service (QoS) features. There are some brief references in the existing standards but this area requires further development.
The transactions/interfaces need to support more complex features that can allow them to be referenced and consumed more easily by higher order service orchestration processes.
Forwarding Graphs should include indications of the traffic types.
Although Comptel has worked out these areas for its own products and specifications, the real value materialises when these specifications become open and seamlessly interchangeable by the different components in the architecture.