What’s Next in the Evolution of Policy Control & Charging?

Posted: May 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Data usage is skyrocketing. Consider Cisco’s study at the beginning of this year, which found that global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013, reaching 1.5 exabytes per month. Mobile video traffic reached 43 percent, and average smartphone usage grew 50 percent in 2013. By 2018, it is even expected that there will be more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices. No surprise there – 1 billion smartphones shipped in 2013, which was more than half of all mobile phones shipped last year.

Not only that, the faster the mobile device, the more data customers use. A study from JDSU discovered that subscribers with the iPhone 5s use 7x as much data as users with the iPhone 3G. Apps contribute to data consumption, too – 2013 saw a 115 percent year-over-year increase in app use and that number continues to rise. As devices and apps get more sophisticated and data-heavy, bandwidth requirements will keep growing explosively.

That’s where more intelligent policy control and charging is starting to shine. In April, Comptel attended the Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference in Berlin– it was obvious there that the industry was in agreement: without a way to quickly price, deliver and optimize innovative data packages, communications service providers (CSPs) will be unable to respond to the diverse needs of today’s customers and tomorrow’s prospects.

A New Ecosystem

There are currently a lot of questions about how to handle different types of data traffic. At the conference, Keith Breed, the research director of the Tariff Consultancy, talked about the stark differences between data pricing packages in different countries and wondered if they could be sustainable.

New investments such as fibre and LTE, along with the impact of OTT providers on traditional sources of revenue, are going to complicate how data is priced. That’s introduced major questions when it comes to traffic management. In the U.S., for example, there’s an ongoing debate about net neutrality. Do CSPs have the right to charge the websites that are using more bandwidth across the network? Or is the Internet a public utility? Breed advocated for a new ecosystem where all data traffic is treated equally.

As business and consumer bandwidth needs change, policy does, too. Adaptability is going to be key for rolling out innovative offers and delivering the appropriate quality of service levels to customers. Peter Dykes, senior analyst at Informa, explained that, in order to adapt quickly, CSPs will need a way to create and launch new data bundles as soon as a customer’s behaviour changes. He suggested that, in the coming years, the closer integration of policy and charging will help make this a reality.

As one speaker noted, online services will play a leading role in this space, too. VoIP, VoLTE, video, gaming and cloud applications will make it critical for CSPs to be able to manage policy dynamically. Changes are coming, and to maintain a competitive advantage, CSPs have to move toward an offer-catalog driven policy and charging control solution that helps deliver, customise and optimise data services.

A Data Debate

At the heart of the debate is how far CSPs should go in managing data usage. Comptel’s Steve Hateley recently talked about how 4K movies will require 45 to 60 gigs of bandwidth, and Fredrik Jungermann of tefficient emphasized that customers should be notified and proactively provided with solutions when hitting their data caps.

The exponential increase in data over the coming years means that having the right offer-catalog driven policy and charging control solutions, particularly one that can be layered with predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities, is going to be more important than ever. Businesses might have a data plan that only streams videos for conferences and uses landlines for voice. Consumers might watch movies or they may only text. Either way, CSPs will need a way to personalise offers in real-time to create new sources of revenue.

All of this was highlighted at the recent Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference. At the end of the day, it was clear that the secret to unlocking new opportunities is to engage individual customers – at the right time and in the right way with the data services they desire.

Want to learn more about the changing landscape of data? Meet up with Comptel at TM Forum Live! in Nice to get a copy of our new whitepaper, “10 more methods to monetise mobile data,” which was written by consulting firm tefficient (www.tefficient.com), an international efficiency specialist for telecom operators and suppliers, and sponsored by Comptel.

The Future of Voice is Here: VoLTE

Posted: May 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Future of Voice is Here: VoLTE

The arrival of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology has been buzzed about by carriers for several years now, but at the Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014 conference in Berlin, it became very obvious that the VoLTE future is no longer on the horizon: it’s here.

“The window of opportunity is now,” urged Alex Harmand, head of service platforms for Telefonica. Telcos are heeding that call. Approximately 10 percent have some of form of VoLTE service in place, and according to the GSMA, 20 more VoLTE deployments are expected this year alone.

VoLTE is happening now, and fast; however, CSPs still have many questions about their approach to the technology. For one, policy control and charging rule function (PCRF) solutions are needed for each voice call in VoLTE. Are CSPs designing their VoLTE architecture by implementing a common or dedicated PCRF?

What’s more, how can CSPs make sure the voice user experience is superior to VoIP services, and equally important, that the quality is as good as—or surpasses—that of current 2G/3G voice services?

VoLTE Benefits for CSPs

As one speaker reminded conference attendees, voice remains a core revenue generator, representing 70 percent of carriers’ global revenues—about $600 billion. This represents a huge opportunity and incentive for CSPs if they can rise to the occasion of leveraging VoLTE as a part of a suite of communications services.

That’s where VoLTE comes in. From CSPs’ perspective, VoLTE will make it possible for voice services to be run on their networks much like any other application. This means that voice calls and data sessions can travel side-by-side over LTE, creating the possibility of innovative new services that combine the two.

Cost reduction is one of the biggest draws for CSPs toward VoLTE services. When voice services are run through LTE/IMS, it was presented in the conference that twice as many voice calls can stream through the same spectrum. More calls mean more opportunities for CSPs to grow their revenues.

What’s more, policy and service opportunities can grow, scalability and performance can improve, and CSPs can experiment by separating data and voice into different packages.

Building a Business Case for VoLTE

Conference attendees were vocal on the business case for VoLTE and whether the costs associated with developing new voice services could be recouped by providing new capabilities.

VoLTE shows strong potential for CSPs. Voice is still a dominating revenue generator, thus VoLTE represents a viable opportunity. In addition to the efficiency gains that channeling voice and data traffic over a common network promises, the case for VoLTE may lean on how successful these tools are in helping CSPs.

Divisions on PCRF

Conference attendees agreed that PCRF will play an integral part in the VoLTE architecture. One speaker even called VoLTE a “game changer” for PCRF. It’s evident that telcos are actively looking to re-evaluate their policy management solutions against VoLTE’s new set of requirements.

But while speakers agreed that PCRF would need to be a focus, many were divided on the best route for tackling these changes. Harmand of Telefonica vocalized that a unified strategy to PCRF would be ideal, but a separate PCRF for VoLTE may make more sense for financial purposes.

Another countered that technically, it makes the most economical sense to utilise one PCRF across the entire network, and while another agreed on this technical point-of-view, s/he voiced concerns that the current implementations on PCRF installations might be a significant challenge to merge.

VoLTE is Here to Stay

The final verdict on VoLTE is this: it allows for superior voice calls, possible revenue growth and cost savings, thus providing a motivator for CSPs and users to adopt the service. While it’s not clear how long the path toward integration and bottom-line improvements will take, it’s very obvious that VoLTE is here to stay, and we’ll see a lot of new deployments in the coming months.

How Chorus New Zealand Cut Fibre Provisioning Time by 40% with Comptel

Posted: May 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

If the telco industry will remember anything from 2014, it will be the decisive move toward disruptive technologies. With Over-the-Top (OTT) services and IPTV eating away at traditional sources of revenue, communications service providers (CSPs) are working hard to differentiate in an increasingly competitive and commoditised landscape.

A growing number of fixed broadband providers are turning to automated fibre fulfillment systems to stay ahead. Fibre deployments have been largely impractical for many CSPs, because of cost considerations and logistical reasons, but the need for disruptive tactics may change that trend. After all, ultra-fast broadband connections will be a unique offering in many countries. Pyramid Research estimates that only 35 percent of households worldwide will have a broadband connection this year.

Fibre fulfillment systems will be key differentiators for CSPs, as they will enable more efficient, seamless service delivery to see through customer demand. Comptel customer Chorus New Zealand was one such company that saw the benefits that could be realised – and this week, we were recognised with a Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award for our work together!

The Fibre Future

Chorus is New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure company. In late 2012, the business was looking for a modern fibre service fulfillment system that offered order management, large-scale logical inventory and activation capabilities that would help establish the company as a standalone entity from Telecom New Zealand. Chorus had recently been awarded a number of ultra-fast broadband contracts and set the goal of delivering a “best-in-class” fibre broadband experience to more than 830,000 New Zealand homes. That’s where we came in.

“Instead of undertaking a major OSS transformation that promised to be cumbersome and costly, Chorus New Zealand elected to pursue an ‘intelligent evolution’ project,” stated Dr. Mark H. Mortensen, author of the Analysys Mason case study. “The major benefit to doing so was it allowed them to provide a fully automated stack based on Comptel’s industry standards-based framework. As a result, Chorus experienced a 40 percent reduction in the time required to electronically provision a fibre connection to a customer’s premises.”

Through such an intelligent OSS evolution, the traditional barriers to fibre deployment fall away. By almost reducing the time of fibre provisioning by half, Chorus guaranteed that the ROI from fibre would be apparent much earlier in the deployment lifecycle. In turn, both the business and customers started to see the benefits of ultra-fast broadband sooner.

The service agility, operational flexibility and rapid time-to-market made possible can become serious differentiators for CSPs in the coming years. The companies that successfully deploy and deliver fibre, supported by automated, catalog-driven fulfillment and by undertaking an end-to-end approach, will pull out ahead of the competition. It also opens up the opportunity for more innovation and better customer service that will generate new streams of revenue to counter the risks of commoditisation.

Want to learn more about the award-winning Chorus & Comptel fibre fulfillment project? Download the full case study!


Comptel Service Order Validator Publicly Available on Salesforce1 AppExchange

Posted: May 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Comptel Service Order Validator Publicly Available on Salesforce1 AppExchange

Comptel is proud to share that the Comptel Service Order Validator is now publicly listed on the Salesforce1 AppExchange, salesforce.com’s hosted cloud platform. Last year, we announced our partnership with salesforce.com, so it’s been exciting to show how our technologies have come together, to deliver intelligent fulfillment to communications service providers (CSPs). Talking to our customers we’ve begun to realise how effective it is in providing an open doorway for telco CRM to reach through and properly touch customer-facing services on the network.

Comptel Service Order Validator can simplify the end-to-end, lead-to-order activation process, enabling CSPs to realise the following benefits:

  • Improve the enterprise customer experience – avoiding over-promising and under-delivering services
  • Reduce costs by ensuring configuration accuracy – preventing implications of work order fallout
  • Increase B2B revenue opportunities with customised offerings aligned to real-time availability

By integrating Comptel Fulfillment with salesforce.com’s platform, we’re hoping to help operators automate and modernise their approach to CRM and improve their operational intelligence.

Comptel Opens New Office in Noida, India

Posted: May 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Opens New Office in Noida, India

This is a guest post from Comptel’s Manish Minocha.

After many months of anticipation, our new office in Noida (Delhi NCR), India officially opened its doors yesterday! We were pleased to share this milestone with some of our customers in an inauguration ceremony – the Finnish ambassador to India, His Excellency Mr. Aapo Pölhö, even joined us for the celebration.

Comptel launched its India operations back in 1996, so we could build closer relationships with the region’s communications service providers (CSPs). Our business footprint has grown substantially since then, with the likes of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices deploying our OSS/BSS solutions. Our software now reaches nearly half of the country’s population (569 million subscribers)!

“For many years, India has been a key market for Comptel,” said our CEO Juhani Hintikka. “This new office reaffirms our commitment to helping our CSP customers transform their operations, innovate and deliver new offerings and grow their businesses. We are happy to play a key role in shaping the region’s telco market.”

Over the past 18 years, Comptel has also formed strong partnerships with global and local system integrators, such as IBM, TCS and Tech Mahindra, to enable us to further deliver high-quality OSS/BSS solutions that address the business and operational requirements of CSPs in India and worldwide.

“Since Comptel established its India presence, we have grown our team significantly, with further expansion still to come,” said Arun Aggarwal, president of Comptel South Asia. “With the growth of big data and interest in analytics to improve customer engagement and all aspects of CSPs’ technical and commercial processes, along with our strong base of integration partners, the future looks bright for Comptel in India.”

Through the new office, we hope to tap into the wealth of talented individuals in the region, to also continue to strengthen Comptel’s global services and support business and help operators ‘make their data beautiful.’ Stay tuned for more exciting things to unfold from the new office in Noida and Comptel.

European Telco Group Honours Comptel for Strategic, Collaborative OSS/BSS Support

Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , | Comments Off on European Telco Group Honours Comptel for Strategic, Collaborative OSS/BSS Support

Comptel is excited to announce that customer TDC Group has recognised us as its Best Performing IT vendor. The Danish communications service provider (CSP) specifically cited our contribution to progressing its strategic focus on “taking responsibility for the customer experience,” and our deep understanding of key OSS/BSS areas including inventory, rating and mediation.

“Comptel has proven to be a very capable, proactive and innovative OSS/BSS solution provider to TDC,” said Peter Trier Schleidt, senior vice president and COO, TDC. “Our team has especially valued Comptel’s dedication, sense of urgency and no-nonsense attitude. Its open and constructive collaboration with our other IT vendors also sets Comptel apart from the pack – we consider the company to be a role model for others across the telecommunications sector.”

We couldn’t be happier about this feedback and distinction, as it reinforces the effort we’ve put into building close, fruitful long-term relationships with our CSP customers. Comptel first started working with TDC in 2007. And since then, particularly with the launch of its customer experience programme—TAK (“Tag ansvar for Kunden”)—in 2009, we’ve been committed to adapting the CSP’s IT requirements to achieve its goals.

Comptel looks forward to growing our partnership with this significant European operator group in the future.

VoLTE, NFV/SDN and OTT Are All Stars at Policy Control Conference 2014

Posted: May 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Earlier this month, Comptel had the privilege of attending the Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014 conference in Berlin.

Jyrki Berg, vice president of products and solutions, and Tinakaran Ramdas, Comptel Policy and Charging Control product manager (pictured left), joined me at the expo, which focused on how communications service providers (CSPs) and telecommunications vendors are adapting to the industry’s constantly changing technology and competition.

The presentations and speeches covered a broad range of themes including over-the-top (OTT) business models, network function virtualization (NFV), software-defined networking (SDN), voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, policy and charging integration and, of course, data pricing.

Here’s what industry thought leaders had to say about each topic.

The OTT Dilemma

As can be expected, one of the major issues CSPs discussed had to do with OTT providers, from Skype to WhatsApp… and every messaging and voice service in between. Lucy Lombardi, the senior vice president of industry relations for Telecom Italia, had some news to share: telcos need to find new ways to innovate when it comes to battling OTT providers for market share.

While it’s challenging for CPSs to compete with the agility of OTT providers when it comes to time-to-market, Lombardi suggested that CSPs focus on customer experience and strategically partner with OTT providers when local services are needed, a higher quality of service (QoS) is desired or customers want more security. OTT providers might be able to adjust and adapt faster than telcos, but there are still plenty of opportunities for CSPs that pursue customer-centric innovation.

NFV & SDN: One Policy to Rule Them All

The NFV / SDN discussions all came back to policy control and traffic management. The consensus at the conference was that the full potential of NFV / SDN can only be reached if systems can dynamically prioritise traffic. The right policy, however, can result in big savings when implemented.

“Policy is the brain,” one speaker told attendees, “but rules engines and current engines are changing a lot from [their] current forms.”

He added that the right deployment of NFV can improve service agility and flexibility, and even make CSPs look a little more like web companies, offering the faster service roll-outs of OTT providers.

VoLTE – A Game Changer

One speaker said that VoLTE is going to be a “game changer” for policy control. He reminded attendees that voice is still a critical revenue generator, with 70 percent of revenues – about $600 billion – coming from voice services. And that’s all at risk from OTT providers.

Cost reduction is a big draw of VoLTE services. The speaker added that, when voice services are run through LTE, twice as many voice calls can run through the same spectrum. Some telcos are already working to deploy VoLTE for customers – about 10 percent have some form of VoLTE service in place, and the GSMA expects 20 more VoLTE deployments this year alone.

When telcos move voice to LTE, policy and service opportunities grow wildly. Scalability and performance improve, and CSPs can potentially experiment by separating data and voice into different packages.

The Data Debacle

When it came to pricing, the conference discussed one thing in particular: data. Keith Breed, the research director of the Tariff Consultancy, wondered aloud whether the vast differences in data pricing could be sustainable. In Europe, data had a relatively low price, whereas in North America, it was much higher. While the market can influence pricing, competition counts – and with less flexible pricing toward data, more OTT providers will proliferate.

Yet there was another data-related topic to be covered, too: net neutrality. There’s a debate within the European Union (EU) about how the Internet ecosystem is changing; at the core of that debate is what role CSPs should play in connecting people. Should all traffic be created equally? How should infrastructure be built to cope with rising demands?

Cisco estimates data growth in 2013 climbed by 57 percent in Western Europe and by 99 percent in Eastern and Central Europe. That kind of demand will change both policy control and data pricing, so it’s up to CSPs to think about how to adapt to new infrastructure demands.

There were many more great presentations and thought-provoking speeches at the Policy Control and Data Pricing in Berlin.
We will cover some in detail in the upcoming weeks, so check back for more!

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– Executive strategies for 2014

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