When Refrigerators Talk: The Role of Telcos in the Internet of Things

Posted: July 30th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Telecommunications is at a crossroad. The demand for data is reaching unprecedented levels and there’s no sign that it’s going to be slowing down. In fact, in the very near future, our refrigerators may be using just as much data as our phones.

Olaf Swantee, the CEO at EE, recently wrote that this era of connected living will soon usher in smart homes, wearable tech and a multitude of other connected gadgets, leading to an explosion in connected touch points that need to be managed by communications service providers (CSPs). At Comptel, we couldn’t agree more. The question, then, is: how will telcos adapt to this new reality?

What will the world look like when our cars are talking to our coffee machines and synchronizing with our cloud-stored media or our refrigerators are updating our shopping list apps in real-time? What will the world look like when, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicts, the entire world is online?

The rapid proliferation of touch points and the amount of new and varied applications they bring will drive the need for increased agility and cost-effective growth in infrastructure, operations and management processes. The true era of connected living is dovetailing with another technological revolution: software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).

The Adaptability Game

The introduction of SDN technology will offer CSPs ways to operate an expanse of digital services at break-neck speed. The flexibility to build and host applications in the cloud will add to the ability to react quickly and roll out supporting features for new services.

This kind of adaptability will be crucial in a connected economy. With so many more touch points in the mix, operating across a wide spectrum of use cases, CSPs will need to be able to smoothly manage policies and bandwidth alike. A single user’s data plan could soon encompass not one or two devices, but twenty, thirty or fifty. How would a data plan for a refrigerator look? And what if one refrigerator has a video display to show users when they need certain groceries? Or, in terms of wearable technology, how can CSPs work with healthcare providers when it comes to medical devices that are connected to the cloud?

With the legacy and multiple OSS/BSS systems that many CSPs still have in place, it may seem like an overwhelming problem to manage. But with SDN and NFV, operators can more easily and economically manage the end-to-end deployment and orchestration of these complex services across all these devices, deployed across virtual networks.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will necessitate – and possibly expedite – the virtualisation revolution that’s already underway in telecommunications. The control plane is evolving, and at the tail-end of this transformation, we’ll see an artificially intelligent, agile orchestration layer that can understand the role of each and every device in the broader context of user behaviour and network patterns.

The excitement around SDN and NFV that we’ve already seen at TM Forum Live! is only going to grow as more connected devices come online. In this case, at least, we may actually see two trends where the hype is matched by the reality.


SDN and NFV aren’t the only things that help businesses become more agile. Learn how to use predictive analytics to predict network stressors before they result in a site failure by downloading our whitepaper, “How Predictions of Critical Alarms Helps CSPs Reduce OPEX, Prevent Revenue Loss and Improve Customer Experience.”

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The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Posted: July 16th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights, News | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Football is inarguably the most popular sport in the world. That’s why the viewership numbers for the recent games in Brazil kept breaking records. The Brazil vs. Chile match, for example, drew 11.5 million viewers just in the UK. According to The Mirror, that’s more than half of the total share of people watching TV at that time. The Germany v. Brazil match attracted 10.77 million viewers. The final match between Germany and Argentina drew well over 26 million viewers in the US.

Given those extremes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that social media channels become frenzied with activity, either. Individual football matches are attracting millions of tweets – the US-Portugal match saw 10 million people engaging in 20 million interactions on Facebook. On Twitter, fans tweeted about eight million times. The opening match, between Brazil and Croatia, garnered 12 million tweets.

But that’s not only what communications service providers (CSPs) are feeling. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 3.5 million viewers tuned into the Germany – US and Portugal – Ghana matches … by using the Internet. A third of those users were in North America, and a quarter watched from mobile devices.

In a way, football games are becoming a great stress test for operators. The matches in Brazil are an interesting case study in how multichannel video streaming and constant social media activity can quickly create a capacity crunch, and might help show CSPs exactly how much their networks can handle and offer insight as to how they can optimise quality of service (QoS) and the quality of experience for end users.

The Football Stress Test

The past six weeks have shown us a glimpse of the future. CSPs know that the data needs of users are increasing dramatically, but not everyone is necessarily watching the same thing from the same device. Research from video advertising company Yume shows that many viewers are planning to watch matches from computers (33 percent), tablets (22 percent) and smartphones (11 percent).

We’ve discussed the growing need to cater to end users’ unique demands, as well as creatively monetise mobile data plans in new and more flexible ways—and the matches in Brazil are one of the strongest cases yet.

What if CSPs had policy and charging tools that allowed them to create and deploy a service plan that allows for unlimited streaming of a football match, based on a user’s country or team of choice and the time of the game? That might be better than letting users reach their data cap or just force them to watch on their TV. Many may be willing to pay a bit more to view the game on a mobile device – they just don’t want to purchase a whole month’s worth of data for it.

The more insight CSPs have into mobile device usage, the more personalised mobile data plans can become. The right solutions allow operators to monitor usage in real time, and when too much traffic is straining the network, they can adjust the access and QoS for specific services and specific users to balance capacity (according to one survey, 67 percent of IT admins are experiencing IT problems and network management issues that can be directly related to employees streaming the matches from their computers).

While it may be too late to deploy these kinds of strategies for the football matches this year, perhaps, during the next big football event, CSPs will be able to offer both consumers and enterprise customers alike a real-time, dynamic plan that meets their needs.


Want to learn how to proactively predict network stressors before they result in a site failure? Download our recent whitepaper, “How Predictions of Critical Alarms Helps CSPs Reduce OPEX, Prevent Revenue Loss and Improve Customer Experience.”

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

Posted: May 16th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , , | No 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!

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Comptel Service Order Validator Publicly Available on Salesforce1 AppExchange

Posted: May 12th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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.


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

Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: News | Tags: , | No Comments »

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.


Bandwidth Caps & 4K TV: A Glimpse into Telco’s Future

Posted: April 28th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Last month, Sky and TalkTalk announced that they would be teaming up to build fibre-optic infrastructure across a number of cities in the UK.  This is an important landmark, as more operators look ahead into architectures based entirely on IP.

As Sky and TalkTalk experiment with an architecture that can pipe broadband direct into homes and businesses, this new infrastructure will provide customers with one of the most exciting things on the horizon: 4K TV.

4K TV is about four times as high-definition as regular HD TV, but the crystal-clear picture comes with a diamond-like price. Most consumers aren’t going to adopt 4K TV until that price drops and, until then, there’s another problem – 4K movies consume anywhere from 45 to 60 gigs of bandwidth when downloaded. Still, that hasn’t stifled the enthusiasm for this kind of media. When Comptel was at Mobile World Congress, 4KTV technology figured centrally into a lot of devices on display at the show, as you can see to the left.

This data demand will have big implications for communications service providers (CSPs). Deutsche Telekom said that customers today use about 15GB to 20GB each month. The operator, among many others, is looking at capping bandwidth usage. In this case, a lower-end plan would be capped at 75 GB.

So if 4K media becomes widely used, CSPs may have to radically change bandwidth models to accommodate the sheer diversity of Internet use – some people will be using astronomically more data than others. And by taking a closer look at the situation with 4K TV, we can get a glimpse of this future.

DSL, Cable and Consumers

The current battle in the European Union is between cable and DSL connections. DSL currently makes up 74 percent of broadband connections. While 93 percent of households in the U.S. can choose between cable or DSL, only 42 percent of households in Europe can choose a cable connection.

That leaves a long way to go when you consider the bandwidth requirements of something like 4K TV. Infrastructure will have to be upgraded significantly to allow for higher speeds, or Europe will have to pursue fibre-optic connections, which may or may not be economically viable. Especially in the current climate.

That may be why Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, is convinced that 4K TV will be “the first format that is Internet only.” He believes that broadcast, cable and satellite won’t be able to support the technology. Netflix has already stocked up on some ultra HD videos and even plans to shoot the second season of its self-produced, award-winning series, House of Cards, in 4K.

But which consumers will be able to afford the bandwidth these videos use, given the slow and steady implementation of new caps? Netflix is already planning ahead for this, offering most videos in four different formats and helping users skirt these data limits.

If 4K can’t be broadcast through the digital air without a specific platform on the CSP’s end, subscribers will have to instead find ultra-fast connections just to experience it. The odds are good, too, that they’ll be streaming video from different devices. And, in doing so, they’ll need more bandwidth than ever before.

More Control, More Options

As we’ve seen with the U.S.’s ruling on net neutrality, CSPs are trying to figure out the best way to price the fluctuating costs and rapidly growing requirements of bandwidth usage. With enormous and diverse audiences – and new, bandwidth-heavy innovations like 4K TV – it’s becoming apparent that CSPs need to find a different way to manage traffic. In many cases, this may be where software-defined networking (SDN) and network field virtualization (NFV) come into play, because these technologies will help create a more intelligent and seamless process when it comes to managing changing data needs.

A lot of these changes will also have to do with making the network and service fulfillment process able to deliver an excellent customer experience. It may require applying contextual intelligence to optimise connections for high-value customers. As CSPs create new plans to accommodate more people than ever before, finding a way to get the right service package to them – as fast and efficiently as possible – will become paramount.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

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What’s new with SDN and the Cloud?

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As communications service providers (CSPs) compete with over-the-top providers (OTT) for revenue, there’s an increasing emphasis on them to beef up their responsiveness and agility. Many CSPs are evaluating software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV) and the cloud as ways to achieve this. But will SDN and NFV be a revolution or an evolution? And are CSPs going to turn to commercial networks or open source ones? We decided to comb the Twittersphere to see what kinds of developments were happening around these topics this week:

If you would like to learn more about Comptel’s thoughts on SDN, NFV and more, set up a meeting with us at TM Forum Live!


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


[NEW RESEARCH] What Telco CMOs and CIOs/CTOs Are Thinking About in 2014

Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

At Mobile World Congress 2014, one theme was prominent above all others: disruption. New kinds of mobile devices, social media, Big Data, virtualisation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Over-the-Top (OTT) providers were central to nearly every product, service or discussion.

By now, it’s obvious to telcos that business models need to change and new strategies have to be implemented, but it’s difficult to know where to begin. That’s why Comptel conducted research with Vanson Bourne: to identify the barriers, strategies and attitudes facing telco CMOs and CIOs/CTOs as they look into 2014 and beyond.

Customer Experience: The Top Priority

Our research found that telco executives almost unanimously (80 percent) agreed that customer experience should be a goal of every employee in the organisation. While that goal may be established, executives are planning a number of different ways to get there. When asked about strategic priorities for 2014:

  • 60 percent are hoping to understand gaps in the service delivery process
  • 56 percent want to improve network performance
  • 52 percent are focused on developing new products
  • 48 percent want to understand customer experience on a granular level

The Big Data Behind Big Decisions

The intelligent use of data seems to be integral to telcos’ strategies this year. Predictive analytics, OSS/BSS consolidation and other initiatives can help streamline processes and modernise infrastructure; our research showed that executives are working hard to see these through.

While we found that integration, coordination and analytics are on the horizon, there still needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that different departments communicate – while 72 percent of CMOs want to understand gaps in service delivery, 68 percent of CIOs/CTOs said that they want to improve their networks.

These are the focuses we would traditionally expect from these organisations. Until executives agree on the mutual importance of each other’s responsibility, customer-centric initiatives are likely to remain at a standstill.

So how are communications service providers planning to overcome those barriers? And what will be possible if customer-relevant insights are shared between two traditionally separate organisations?

Check out our infographic, and download our eBook below to find out more!

Click to zoom.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


Mobile World Congress Day 3: The Turning Point for Telco Networks

Posted: February 28th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | No Comments »

The third day of Mobile World Congress was defined by the keynote session about Big Data and mobile, but the underlying theme was network infrastructure. Three CEOs in the space touched on the upcoming evolution of networks: Joe Tucci of EMC, Michael Combes of Alcatel-Lucent and Patrick Gelsinger of VMware.

The consensus was that mobile devices and the dramatic, sweeping changes in traffic requirements are going to fundamentally change the structure, dynamics and functions of networks around the world.

“I believe we are just at the beginning,” said Combes.  He emphasized the importance of a structural change to build networks for the customer habits of tomorrow. “We clearly have to see the network differently to deliver the scale and elasticity required for new applications.”

Networks, in Context

Combes charged that the whole telecommunications industry is at a turning point that started about five years ago, when an increasing number of mobile devices entered the scene. He estimates that there will be a 440 percent increase in cloud and datacenter traffic between 2012 and 2017, but many communications service providers (CSPs) are still building networks with a legacy footprint.

Combes highlighted the debate taking place about the need for more intelligent, faster networks and how networks and the cloud are becoming more integrated. He touched on how this is changing the dynamic of the industry, because network operators will be deploying across a unified cloud platform and datacenters will be shared by multiple tenants.

“In Europe, there still aren’t enough investments in network and IT,” he said. “[CSPs] have no other way but to compete on price, as opposed to innovation.” He believes that networks must adapt to user needs and become user-aware.

Comptel’s vision of contextual intelligence at every touchpoint plays right into this line of thinking.

Infrastructure 2.0

Joe Tucci, the CEO of EMC, discussed the phenomenon as well.

“What’s happening is IT is bleeding into networks and vice versa,” he explained. “We call it the 3rd grade platform of IT.” He added that developers will rule in the future. They will look for platforms that help them create new and innovative solutions. And a lot of those platforms will be in the cloud.

Patrick Gelsinger of VMware picked up the conversation by explaining how virtualisation is bringing efficiency and savings to networks that used to rely upon physical servers. He added that VMware has actually virtualised 70 percent of the company’s own servers.

Comptel has been very excited about the potential held in software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV). If the expected benefits of lightning fast speed, agility and real-time responsiveness are realised, these new networks will empower CSPs to deliver better, more personalised customer experiences than ever before. It was great to hear that other companies in the space are working toward similar goals.

The telecommunications industry is indeed at a turning point and with the right infrastructure, CSPs will be able to meet both customer and business goals in new and creative ways.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


Mobile World Congress Day 2: Getting Big Value Out of Big Data

Posted: February 25th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The first day of Mobile World Congress was a busy one, full of panels, speeches and workshops. When Day Two began, I knew it was going to be another exciting one, full of insights from thought leaders across the telco industry. Today, one of those thought leaders was Comptel’s VP of Analytics and Technology, Matti Aksela. Matti was a participant during the morning panel session, “Big Data Goes on Stage.” He joined executives from Blancco, Creanord, Omnitele, Tieto, and Tecnotree to discuss the current state of Big Data and the changes we can expect to see over the next several years.

Big Data is still a fairly difficult term to define. At Comptel, we believe that the term is a new label that’s being applied to something fundamental – the ability to build a business strategy around customer data. The panel acknowledged this, noting that telcos are handling petabytes upon petabytes of information that could potentially be useful to the business.

But what do telcos really need to make the most out of Big Data?

The Foundation of Data is Infrastructure

Tomi Paatsila, CEO at Omnitele, explained that scalable infrastructure is integral to Big Data analytics, because organisations have to be able to adapt to different traffic environments. Matti added that scalable infrastructure also needs to support different types of data to effectively consolidate all that information.

Part of that requirement is due to the emergence of new virtual machines (vms). Ideal infrastructures will have to be vendor-agnostic, providing a seamless integration for the technologies of yesterday, today and tomorrow. As Lucas Weber, product manager at Blancco pointed out, both virtualization and the rise of cloud computing have added new layers of complexity to the data that infrastructures must be able to handle.

However, collecting and processing all those petabytes of data can still be a cumbersome (and expensive) task for telcos, especially if they attempt to do so manually.

Automation for the Next Generation

The panelists agreed that automation is a key element to any Big Data solution. They also agreed that it’s important to analyse end-user behaviour at every possible touch point, a particular science of the customer experience that Comptel has championed for a long time. When telcos can collect contextual intelligence at every touch point, execs can make informed business decisions based on real-time, segmented customer interactions.

Matti often observes organisations that are frustrated with the results of their Big Data solution, because business leaders didn’t identity a specific motivation behind implementation. As Matti said on today’s panel, “The key is to start looking for value out of the data right away.” To do that, telcos need to decide which business problem can be solved with the help of Big Data. In Matti’s experience, the top use case is churn reduction.

Weber summed up the panel conversation perfectly: “At the end of the day, consumers and enterprises should benefit from Big Data.” As telcos strive to become customer-centric companies, the ability to efficiently utilise Big Data to create a better customer experience will be an important factor in their success, or their failure.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download