Posted: September 20th, 2016 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events | Tags: Events, Nexterday North, Nexterday Tour | No Comments »
There’s an entire world of fresh ideas and exciting opportunities for telcos to indulge, many of which are discussed in various industry conferences around the world. That’s why Comptel is happy to bring and present these ideas directly to you if you were not able to hop on a plane and visit each event.
The Nexterday Tour 2016 is our global effort to share the latest, most dominant and most appealing market trends directly with our customers and partners. At the same time, we discuss key thought leadership themes, including how Comptel’s software addresses market requirements in Nexterday.
We want to tap into the latest industry trends and insights from major global industry events, including our own Nexterday North event, which asks telcos to stop thinking about digital transformation and start executing. We package everything together with content and videos from operators, industry speakers and thought leaders, and go on tour to deliver them to telcos around the world.
What is the Nexterday Tour?
The program includes trends and insights gathered from a number of big events, stretching from the Comptel anti-seminar Nexterday North in Helsinki last November, and extending through Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, TM Forum Live! in Nice, the Big Communications Event in Austin, and a scattering of NFV/SDN events throughout Europe and the U.S. Our next stop will be in October for Dreamforce in San Francisco and the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress in The Hague.
It’s the third consecutive year we’ve run a global program. You might have known our previous tours by other names – “Barcelona in a Box” in 2014 and “Beyond the Event Horizon” last year. We visited more than 15 cities last year, meeting with 400 individual customers from 45 global operators.
So far, this year’s tour has taken us to South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region, adding up to over 10 countries, over 15 cities, dozens of operator brands and hundreds of individual customers. And the tour finishes with our second annual Nexterday North from 28-29 November, 2016 in Helsinki.
Top Themes for 2016
Our focus in 2016 is on digital transformation and disruption within the telco industry.
We wanted to cover how new players in telco – including startups, but also non-telco players like Airbnb, Uber and Spotify – are shaking up the industry with innovative digital offerings that require operators to change their approach.
We’re also covering broader global trends. In his keynote speech at Nexterday North 2015, Kjell Nordstrom talked about urbanisation, describing how within the next 20 to 30 years, 80 percent of the world’s population and 90 percent of its economic value will be centralised in 600 megacities. On the tour, we’ve discussed what that means for telcos in the years ahead.
Similarly, we’ve heard frequently about the increasing value placed on customer experiences. A massive 89 percent of companies planned to compete on the basis of customer experience this year, according to Gartner. How has digitalisation influenced that trend, and – as keynote speaker Mike Walsh will discuss at Nexterday North 2016 – how does the increasing level of consumer familiarity with digital tools and services impact telco innovation?
We’ve discussed new telco business models, new network technologies and new service opportunities. We know that networks are embracing software in the era of NFV, data centres and cloud. We know that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major opportunity, but that 99 percent of devices aren’t connected to the internet yet. At the same time, we know that up to four billion people on Earth also lack internet access. So what are operators and the whole industry doing to solve that challenge, alongside the others?
We’re also covering a number of challenges and opportunities in our industry, such as the need to find fresh new data monetisation strategies to take advantage of customers’ hunger for digital services. We also discuss the increased need for hyper personalisation in marketing, sales and service, and the need for telcos to re-engineer their service orchestration models to suit a more self-serve, conversational and automated service delivery lifecycle.
It’s been exciting to get out of the office, speak directly with customers and hear their ideas and thoughts on all of these concepts. Generally speaking, we’re seeing operators starting to broaden their mode of thinking. Ideas that would have once been considered too radical for telco are now being carefully considered, whether it’s ways to change how we work, new service opportunities to tap into, or new global trends that affect our business.
It’s important for telcos to continue the conversation and step away from the industry’s collective blindspot. With the Nexterday Tour 2016, Comptel is proud to play a part in helping operators have these important discussions.
Join us on the Nexterday Tour 2016 by registering for Nexterday North 2016, 28-29 November, in Helsinki. You can check out our fantastic speaker lineup here, which to date includes digital transformation visionary Mike Walsh, marketing guru David Meerman Scott, futurologist Dietmar Dahmen, operator speakers and many more.
Posted: September 13th, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: OSS, OSS/BSS, SDN & OpenFlow World, service orchestration | No Comments »
Have you preordered your new iPhone 7? Or were you, like many observers, underwhelmed with Apple’s latest product launch?
The tech leader rolled out the newest version of its smartphone last week, and by all accounts the latest iPhone’s features are mostly iterative than innovative. The most disruptive hardware change was also the one that frustrated consumers the most: the elimination of the 3.5 mm headphone jack, which requires iPhone users to use Apple’s proprietary headphones instead.
Similarly, the iPhone’s user interface seems to have plateaued. While the iPhone 7 will ship with a new operating system that includes a handful of new features, the look and feel of Apple’s UI is still virtually unchanged from where it was several generations ago. You can add some more pixels here and round off a few bevels there, but for the most part, iOS doesn’t offer much opportunity for further design innovation. Apple’s UI is what it is because that’s what its devout customers expect.
That’s not necessarily a knock against Apple’s UI. They’ve found an interface that suits its fanbase, and they’ve even inspired design innovation in other areas of software development. In fact, one software experience that’s long overdue for a fresh coat of paint and user-friendly functionality is OSS.
To date, we’ve seen OSS interfaces designed around the technology in the network: topologies, hardware representations and configurations that must be manually realigned based on user. However, the emerging app- and data-driven digital economy is putting increased pressure on operator networks to be agile, dynamic and automated. Meanwhile network function virtualisation (NFV) is changing the speed and nature of service orchestration by simplifying network processes and application deployment.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, that the OSS should be refreshed to enable an agile and more productive work experience for telco operations managers?
Telco is starved for a strong, functional and distinct OSS UI. The folks who support service orchestration vary in roles, responsibilities, skill levels and professional backgrounds. OSS UIs should be designed to correspond to that variety, so that each user is able to focus only on those operational elements that they are most equipped to manage. That increases efficiency and the speed at which digital services can be developed, verified, deployed and improved.
As a result, time-to-profit goes down, while customer satisfaction goes up.
That’s why the shift toward cloud-service operational management will bring an evolution to the OSS, in the form of tailored, intuitive user experiences and subsequently increased productivity. The new OSS will be open, capable of seamlessly interacting with both telco and IT apps and their corresponding management systems. As a result, telcos benefit from a higher order platform to specify, test, publish for consumption and deliver services across virtual, physical and IT domains.
An intuitive OSS UI also supports a seamless end-to-end service lifecycle, eliminating any gaps in the process by which network resources are discovered and services are designed and deployed.
Ultimately, the new OSS recognises that virtualisation is an opportunity for telco to reinvent itself. Operators can offer more than just a telecommunications platform – they have a chance to become part of a larger, distributed IT infrastructure that seamlessly provides services to end customers. Our existing OSS culture needs to evolve in order to recognise that this paradigm shift requires opening up the infrastructure to deliver services and resources in a more agile, open and systematic way.
Comptel will discuss the reinvention of the OSS user interface paradigm in The Hague for SDN & OpenFlow World Congress, 10-14 October 2016. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with our team or arrange a meeting at the event.
Posted: September 12th, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | No Comments »
For the past 15 years, the MEF Forum has been focused on driving forward innovations in network performance to help operators deliver carrier-grade ethernet connectivity and more recently, what it calls “Third Network Services.” As one of 200 member organisations, Comptel is pleased to play an important role helping to shape MEF’s guidance around next-generation service orchestration with our Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) model.
Last month, Comptel took part in the primary annual meeting of the MEF member organisation in Boston, where we had a great opportunity to explore how our DSLM model for service orchestration complements MEF’s vision for NFV-driven service delivery and lifecycle management.
What are Third Network Services?
MEF describes Third Network Services as those that “combine the on-demand agility and ubiquity of the Internet with the performance and security assurances of Carrier Ethernet 2.0.” The organisation is essentially describing a variety of digital services that rely on optimised high-performance networks to meet the quality of service expectations of today’s digitally savvy Generation Cloud consumers.
Examples include performance-assured wired or wireless internet connectivity, which automatically optimises the performance of your network whether you’re working on a train, in your home or from a hotel room on a business trip. The Third Network also provides assured, dynamic network performance for businesses, enhancing the experience for each end user on each cloud application even if the company uses multiple internet providers across multiple offices.
The idea is to provide quality, assured service experiences that customers can control. MEF’s vision for Third Network Services closely aligns with Comptel’s own view of dynamic digital services, which is why we’re excited to bring our DSLM model to the table in conversations with MEF member organisations.
Developing LSO and DSLM
To enable these services, MEF has introduced a number of models and specifications that define how operators should evolve their networks and integrate emerging technologies, such as network functions virtualisation (NFV). Member organisations, like Comptel, take part in ongoing MEF initiatives and proofs of concept to engage with and develop these standards and models.
One such model is MEF’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO), which leans on NFV and software-defined networks (SDN) to streamline and automate “the service lifecycle in a sustainable fashion for coordinated management and control across all network domains responsible for delivering an end-to-end connectivity service,” according to MEF.
Comptel’s DLSM, which models dynamic service orchestration in an NFV-driven digital economy, complements LSO nicely. It’s a three-tiered conversational architecture in which:
- A customer-facing top layer handles order capture, configuration and invoicing
- A middle digital service lifecycle management layer offers dynamic service design, orchestration, assurance and delivery
- A bottom layer handles resource management with physical and virtual systems.
The parallel concepts of LSO and DLSM both recognise the important role virtual functions will play in the development of operator networks and the delivery of dynamic, high-performance digital services to consumers.
Comptel is eager to be part of the conversation within MEF to help define how LSO standards evolve, and we believe our ongoing involvement with MEF will help us bring a higher level of expertise to conversations with our own customers around NFV-driven service orchestration.
Learn more about DSLM in our whitepaper “Digital Service Lifecycle Management: How Communications Service Providers Can Play a Successful Role in the Digital Economy”
Comptel will be showcasing and discussing the Digital Service Lifecycle Management including their FlowOne V solution for end-to-end hybrid network service orchestration at a number of events in the coming weeks.
To connect with our team or set up a meeting, email ComptelMarketing@Comptel.com.
Posted: August 29th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: 56, innovation, spectrum, telco infrastructure, wireless | 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.
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.
Posted: August 23rd, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: customer experience, software design, software development, telecom, UX | 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.
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.
Posted: August 2nd, 2016 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: data monetisation, revenue monetisation, sponsored data | 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.
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.
Posted: July 13th, 2016 | Author: Ulla Huopaniemi | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: customer experience, fulfillment, OSS, telco, telecom, telecoms | 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.
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.
Posted: July 8th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: bss transformation, convergent charging, mobile payment | 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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted: June 23rd, 2016 | Author: Ulla Huopaniemi | Filed under: Events | Tags: broadband, fibre, network optimisation, OSS, ultra-fast broadband | 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.
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”
Posted: May 20th, 2016 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Events | Tags: NFV, NFV World Congress, Virtualisation | 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.