Comptel Launches New Version of its Fulfillment Product

Posted: May 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Launches New Version of its Fulfillment Product

Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of Comptel Fulfillment 8, the latest version of our catalog-driven platform that enables communications service providers (CSPs) to streamline and manage the end-to-end process of service order capture to service delivery.

This new version of Comptel Fulfillment was designed specifically to reduce the complexity of today’s multi-faceted, blended communications environment and expedite the deployment and launch of rich communications services. For instance, the highly performing platform, which brings to life our Next Generation Fulfillment strategy unveiled last autumn, enables CSPs to manage a broader portfolio of products and services. This includes the inclusion of third-party applications and content, which supplements the traditional product offerings of the CSP—and simplified service creation with the link to an agile and efficient service catalog.

On top of that, Comptel Fulfillment 8 monitors and expedites the end-to-end process from service-order capture to service delivery with precision and minimal human intervention, which greatly reduces the likelihood of failed orders, disappointed customers and ultimately lost revenue. Utilising a common platform and fully integrated components, such as a statefully aware service and resource inventory, the product understands the status and context of CSPs’ networks, customers and service use – and its open flexibility makes rapidly responding to changing market requirements easier.

With customer expectations continuing to rise, CSPs are under tremendous pressure to meet, and exceed demand with fast, accurate and customised service delivery. We’re proud that our new fulfillment solution enables this by giving CSPs superior command of their products and services and the ability to better incorporate innovations into their offerings. For more information, read today’s full announcement on Comptel Fulfillment 8.

Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part Two

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In my last post, I touched on what LTE-A is and the benefits we can expect from it, including much more bandwidth. However, there is some room for improvement with this technology.

The Price Issue

First and foremost, there are cost issues related to the massive performance increase. For instance, if you have a mobile broadband bundle with a capacity of 2 GB, this could quickly be consumed in roughly 15-20 seconds. If you’re a heavy user today and spend about 30 GB a month, at maximum capacity, it would not last long in LTE-A. Depending on how the service is put to market, consumers could end up paying a fortune for its speed—hindering adoption and prolonging the transition to LTE-A.

So why will it be so pricey? There are a few fundamental reasons. First, the cell in LTE-A is smaller but much faster than those found in previous generations. So this means that we will have more cells (think of these as the roadside ‘towers’), but they will most likely be built into streetlight poles and other facilities in addition to physical towers. Here’s where the price comes into play—each cell has a cost. In addition, each of those cells needs to be connected to the core network somehow (typically microwave radio or optic cable), and with more cells comes more cables and more complex networks.

Also, each cell needs to transport more data as bandwidth grows. Thus, the infrastructure to support such bandwidth requires major investments by communications service providers (CSPs), including in new technologies like small cell devices for more specific locations. We can also expect more fibre rollouts, which will need to be connected to all kinds of routers, switches and repeaters in the telecom network. These will all need to be planned, installed and operated. While we assume that efficiency increases in hardware over time (smaller space and faster speed) and power consumption decreases, all this infrastructure will have a major impact when it comes to cost. In addition to the purchase and operations, the cost of labour for actually digging up the ground, laying the cables and filling the ground can really add up.

What about Vendors?

This means a lot of various things for software vendors like Comptel and others in the OSS/BSS and Service Provider IT (SPIT) field? We believe the infrastructure rollout will need to be as automated as possible to drive the need for an excellent fulfillment process, logical network connections and efficient resource management. This will, in turn, reduce wasted time and money. The increase in bandwidth will likely drive more customer offerings and drive the need for service orchestration and catalog-driven order management. The complexity of the service must be conveyed in a way that makes sense for customer segments using the network capacity, and various service bundles should be prepared and proposed.

One may, however, discover that there are so many different ways to bundle these services that they completely avoid it and allow customers to self-personalise their subscriptions in advance or just in time. CSPs will naturally want to charge and control this usage and the bandwidth that customers are getting, such as services without quota restrictions like music streaming with a fixed monthly fee. Perhaps they can consider time-, location- or service-specific profiles of policies that enable customers to enjoy the vast capacity at full speed.

With this in mind, we already enjoy a degree of granularity like watching a TV series at full capacity, while others view it at a lesser quality, all enabled by policy control and online charging systems. We’re also starting to see CSPs analysing and adapting their customer engagement through intelligent interactions like free services and campaign offers, better matching service profile configurations and other things that better suite personal preferences of usage. All of these services need to be activated, changed and deactivated in real time with a provisioning and activation engine that can scale to the vast speed and low latency.

Likewise, the usage data will be so diverse and vast in its volume that a next-generation mediation system with massive scalability is needed to enable managing the online feeds of data and transactions securely and to adapt the data from various sources and formats with all of the potential various destinations (and their formats). This layer we saw formed in the CDR/file world will also be very necessary in the new online/diameter world.

In summary, behind the acronym LTE-A, there is a promise of vast bandwidth, which no matter how you look at it, will surely benefit us, especially as many other innovations can then be applied to it. There are some hurdles to overcome, but just as many opportunities presented with the technology.

If you’re interested in talking about LTE-A a bit more, please leave a comment or come to our booth at the upcoming Management World 2012, taking place in Dublin in May, to chat with me about it.

The Rising Importance of Proof-of-Concepts

Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rising Importance of Proof-of-Concepts

Recently, outside of my working life at Comptel, two of my friends have been looking for new jobs after a considerable time in their current roles.

Separately, they both shared with me their remarkably similar job seeking experiences. They explained there appeared to be more candidates looking and immediately available, and stated that the interview process was longer, harder and had more steps than they had remembered. Significantly, my mates had to attend lengthy assessment centres, where they had to literally demonstrate their suitability for the prospective jobs.

I am pleased to announce they were both successful in their applications, but the steps, themes and parallels they encountered made me think of the current way telecoms software providers are selected by communications service providers (CSP).

From my position as project manager in Comptel’s Europe West services team, I acknowledge the rising importance of proof-of-concepts in the procurement process. Has this become the equivalent of the assessment centre in an interview process? Helping customers to assess and select the right vendor for them?

For a measured financial outlay, proof-of-concepts can be of enormous mutual benefit to both technology providers and CSP customers:

Suitability: Our customers can experience first-hand the suitability or relevance of Comptel’s products and solutions against their specified functional user scenarios. As the supplier, we can ensure that we properly understand the requirements and priorities that matter to our customers (and on occasions, gain ideas on how to improve our core products for all customers!). Furthermore, customers can assess the impact of a potential new solution on their businesses.

Technical Solution: Technically, both parties immediately understand how they can integrate a new solution with existing systems and interfaces. Through hands on knowledge of the requirements and technicalities, Comptel can accurately and confidently deliver fixed price quotes.

Commitment: A proof-of-concept is a real statement of intent from both parties; they are committed to reviewing and proving the solution is appropriate for the product and strategy.

Risk: Investing in a new solution is a substantial decision by CSPs. With an upfront proof-of-concept, the risk to the business is reduced through upfront working and engagement. Comptel ensures that it understands CSPs’ businesses, and that its solutions can really meet their requirements.

Head Start: By investing in a proof-of-concept, it allows both parties to make a head start when the full implementation project is approved. There is a common understanding and relationship in place from day one. Unlike a brand new customer, contracts and ways of working together are understood, reducing kick-off lead times.

Learning: Through a proof-of-concept, all participants learn, from subtle things such as understanding customers’ key business drivers, to actually meeting the Comptel personalities that will work on the main implementation!

From a Europe West services perspective, I enjoy being asked to manage proof-of-concepts. They are often fast-paced, focused and provide Comptel with an opportunity to show its strengths and values.

I also believe that going through an interview process does not have to be stressful—it’s a collaborative event to make sure that both parties understand each other and can work together to deliver success. Comptel believes in the value of understanding and working together with its customers!

Around the World

Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

First Touch, Last Touch, Every Touch
Analyst Teresa Cottam explains why every interaction that takes place between a communications service provider (CSP) and a customer is important. The CSP often perceives the first touch, or first customer engagement to be a sales transaction where it signs up a customer to receive a service. However, customers believe that their relationship with a CSP doesn’t just begin with a simple sale—it takes a longer period of time to cultivate.

Teresa uses a personal experience with an old broadband operator to explain how CSPs should build better relationships with customers. After mishandling her service transfer process, the operator made her wait 30 minutes on the phone, and a support assistant accused her of signing up for the wrong package and dismissed her concerns.

Teresa says this example emphasises issues that currently exist in the market, and proves that CSPs need the ability to analyse data in real time to get a better understanding of and retain their customers. CSPs need to focus on not just the first touch but any and every touch in order to build loyalty. She also notes that in today’s competitive market, even forgetting that ex-customers could be future customers is a missed revenue opportunity and could hinder CSPs’ success.…
APAC Telcos Concentrate on Quality
Joseph Waring gives an overview of a recent Telecom Asia-Ovum survey of telecom executives in 19 countries across Asia Pacific. The results revealed quality of service (QoS) to be the key distinguishing feature for operators in the region.

Interestingly, the survey also found that fewer respondents (38% compared to 54% two years ago) viewed unlimited data rates as the most effective way to charge for mobile broadband services. But Ovum analysts believe that the percentage of people who agree with this method is still too high, and urges operators to steer away from flat rates, which can over-burden networks and negatively impact QoS.

Additionally, survey respondents indicated that they believe video will be the key driver of continued mobile broadband traffic growth in Asia Pacific. Like Comptel, Ovum believes that operators must look to balancing the management of resources like bandwidth, while controlling customers’ data services, in order to maximise the customer experience and monetise their offerings.

Right Path for Roaming?
Industry experts wonder if recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regulations could potentially cause more harm than good. These called for telecom operators to slash mobile phone roaming charges to consumers by at least 50 percent beginning 1 February in a bid to bring costs in line with those in Europe. Roaming revenues account for a significant proportion of overall profits for many CSPs, and a sudden forced reduction in tariffs may, unfortunately, lead to price increases, less investment in other areas and other unintended consequences.

But, there is evidence that Gulf operators are already moving in the right direction towards decreasing roaming tariffs without the regulations. Peter Lyons, director of spectrum policy, Africa & Middle East for the GSM Association (GSMA), says that operators responding to the competition are driving roaming costs down and that they are making an effort to increase the transparency of roaming rates. On the other hand, some point out that regulation is needed to protect against distortions in the market that can be created by dominant players. What do you think is the right path for the Gulf in terms of roaming?

VanillaPlus Policy Control Features – A Sneak Peek

Posted: January 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Policy control is near and dear to us here at Comptel, and we’re very excited for the upcoming February / March issue of VanillaPlus that will have a special focus on this area. In fact, Comptel has contributed some thoughts for inclusion in that issue, and we’d like to provide you with a sneak peek.

In one feature, Comptel CEO Juhani Hintikka weighs in on policy management as a means of bandwidth conservation and as a way to create upsell opportunities. Juhani explains how this is becoming a reality as policy concepts evolve and mature, and discusses additional opportunities available to communications service providers (CSPs) if they can take advantage of this function. This becomes especially relevant with the rollout of LTE, where almost every user transaction must travel through the policy control engine. As such, the Policy Charging Rules Function (PCRF) must be able to both handle the scale and complexity of these transactions—calling for a need to combine OSS flexibility and support to fit CSPs’ business models as well as provide network-level transaction processing.

In another article, Comptel’s policy control solutions manager, Joonas Ojala, shares his thoughts on how policy management will allow CSPs to better control their bandwidth to best provide a package that fits customer needs. To do this, CSPs need to steer away from technical attributes and focus more-so on use cases and analysing customer behaviour in order to differentiate service packages appropriately. For example, those who surf the web randomly should have a different option than corporate customers who may have a higher priority allocated to them in terms of speed.

To learn more about Comptel’s thoughts on these topics, check out the upcoming issue of VanillaPlus!

Around the World

Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

The Hindu Business Line…
Take Broadband to the Masses
In order for India to sustain the economic growth it has experienced over the last few years, broadband needs to be accessible throughout the country. Spreading broadband beyond urban areas ensures the efficient delivery of remote education, healthcare and government services.

Factors that previously prevented widespread adoption include affordability and lack of availability. However, while the latter is less of a hurdle today as service providers continue to embrace wireless, the former continues to be a challenge. Sustainable growth requires subscriber plans that are reasonable yet profitable. This is where OSS/BSS providers can help, by giving communications service providers (CSPs) the opportunity to make flexible plans while simultaneously reducing their costs.

Increased Network Congestion Requires Fresh Thinking from Operators
As the growing popularity of smartphones brings a boom in data traffic, operators are developing new ways to acknowledge network congestion problems and deliver a personalized customer experience. In fact, recent research from Current Analysis claims that social media and end-user forums have become a key part of identifying network issues and prompting operators to take action.

Additionally, many operators are training customer support staff to assess network failures and award credits to individual subscribers when needed. This is a step forward towards improving the customer experience, but as IDC analyst Andy Hicks recently said, the key to ensuring predictive and proactive customer service is implementing service and network automation, so that subscribers’ needs are addressed before end users call customer service.

LTE Won’t Stop Carrier Wi-Fi Momentum
Despite the growth in LTE networks, many CSPs are embracing Wi-Fi due to its massive footprint, low-cost and large presence on smartphones. In addition to deploying Wi-Fi access points in hotspot locations, they are integrating the technology into their core networks and extending OSS/BSS and customer management capabilities to Wi-Fi.

While the benefits of LTE are clear and the technology is continuing to gain momentum, ABI Research analyst Aditya Kaul observes that the true motivation for adopting LTE is for customer acquisition, competitive differentiation or being first to market. But the adoption and promotion of Wi-Fi still makes sense for many operators when it comes to retention, which could even be turned into a competitive advantage. Do you think Wi-Fi has a long term play, as new LTE services, products and packages continue to roll out?

Management World Americas: Cocktails with Comptel and Discussions around Data

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This year’s Management World Americas, taking place in Orlando, Florida, is buzzing with excitement and even may be the biggest yet, with a rumored 500 attendees! To kick things off, Comptel hosted a cocktail reception on Monday evening for press and analysts, which involved a lively discussion around OSS/BSS industry trends, particularly fulfillment. At the reception, Comptel’s CEO Juhani Hintikka presented the company’s strategy and described how Comptel is addressing the most pressing issues challenging communications service providers (CSPs) today.

One of the most prominent hurdles is the volume explosion – with mobile data making up 30% of traffic, and still growing, and video traffic alone expected to consume 66% by 2015. Juhani asserted that this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge: if that data can be turned into information, this would create a basis to really differentiate and enhance customer experience.

This is especially true when it comes to over-the-top (OTT) players. Instead of competing with them, CSPs must begin to think of how to work with them, bringing to the table some key assets. Those assets include the control of the network, the BSS/OSS infrastructure (being able to deliver and charge for services), but also potentially the understanding of customers – which is where turning data into information comes into play. In other words, OSS plays a role in creating a reliable ecosystem that is attractive to potential partners.

However, CSPs are not there yet. What they need is to be able to turn data into actionable information, or as Juhani put it, deliver on the new paradigm: event – analysis – action, in real time.  In other words, Juhani believes the real value is to act in real time, jumping on an issue when it’s hot instead of letting it fester. If you can get the analytics right, you gain an opportunity to increase revenue – adding value rather than simply pushing a technology.

This message was well received by the press and analyst present at the event.

Stay tuned for more updates as we take in all that Management World Amercas has to offer!

Five Ways to Enrich the Customer Experience

Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

By Samantha Tanner, Telecoms IQ at IQPC

Customers are the most important part of a Communication Service Provider’s (CSP) business; after all, if a CSP doesn’t have any customers, they don’t have a business. Therefore, your customer experience strategy must reflect how important they are to you.

When putting together your customer experience model, take into consideration these five key aspects:

1. Emotions: Decide what emotions you are trying to invoke in your customers, and design an engaging customer experience around that.

Colin Shaw, founder of Beyond Philosophy believes that the process of turning customers into advocates has to be thought through—what does it mean to make them an advocate? What would it take to make them one?

According to Comptel’s CTO office director, Greg Scullard, the details of every event or transaction in customers’ lifecycles are key to winning hearts, minds and wallets.

2. Advocacy: Encourage advocacy by working toward a long-lasting customer relationship.

Andrew Williams, director of customer experience for Orange FT Group, believes that “the reason (advocacy is) important is that customers who are genuinely engaged with you and your service(s) are likely to stay longer and spend more money by buying more services or more expensive plans. But also, importantly, (customers) are prepared to go out there and tell their friends and family about what a great experience they’re having.”

3. Engagement: Actively seek out what services or actions will make your customers happy. Think about what your customers want and what they might require from you. For example, are they increasingly setting up smartphone plans? If so, one core desire will likely be fast data / Internet access.

Olivier Suard, marketing director at Comptel, explains that operators need to go the extra mile and be more interactive with their customers. By leveraging their OSS and network data, they can develop a complete picture of their customers’ behaviours, which will enable them to proactively engage with them, anticipate problems and ensure their satisfaction.

Likewise, be sure to listen to customers’ feedback. Subscribers are increasingly turning to social media as a customer service tool. Karl Whitelock, director, OSS/BSS business strategy, Stratecast agrees, finding that “what is most striking today is the speed with which customers react through social media. If a customer has a bad experience […] there can be a movement of thousands of others demanding a more equitable solution in just a few hours.” As mindsets change, so do the channels that customers want to be engaged through—be sure to listen and take note.

Dr. Nicola Millard, experience futurologist for BT Global Services, concurs: “The Internet’s given us a lot more choice than we used to have. So we’re seeing more people seeking advice via Googling or asking their social media connections. Often, the organisation is the last port of call.”

Image via TmoNews

4. Switch Focus: Change your mindset from being ROI-driven to being customer focused, and the ROI will come naturally.

Fifty percent of the customer experience is based on how the customer feels, explains Shaw. Relaying this message and integrating it into the way a company operates can be a challenge, especially when the overarching mindset is focused strictly on ROI. Because of this, he believes, it’s important to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. And over the past two years, , CSPs have really tried to focus on investing in customer care and driving brand loyalty rather than simply pushing products.

5. Never Be Satisfied: Keep going back to the drawing board and ask yourself if there is any way to further enrich or improve your customer experience.

Take, for example, Orange FT Group’s customer experience strategy. Every time a new product or service is launched the company maps out its customers’ journeys to try and understand what customers will want and what their needs are.

Emilie Smith, customer experience manager at Orange FT Group, says: “I think one of the things that we found is that sometimes there’s not an understanding across all areas of what actually happens, particularly at that beginning stage where a customer is doing his/her research. So, one of the things we do is take our staff back to being customers—we’ve seen that they then really understand the experience.”

In conclusion, if you want your customers to be loyal, and thus maximise revenue, work on your overall customer experience strategy. It goes a long way in portraying to your customers what kind of relationship you are hoping to build with them.

For more information on this topic and to listen to the original interviews, please visit

Around the World

Posted: January 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Sprint Increases Unlimited Smartphone Data by $10 Per Month
Sprint announced last week that it has raised the price of its unlimited smartphone data service by $10 per month.  The communications service provider’s (CSP) spokesperson, Cristi Allen, told FierceWireless that the change is “reflective of where the mobile data market is going.  It’s just not that customers are buying more smartphones, which they clearly are, but they’re using more smartphone features.”  Allen also stated that Sprint is committed to its unlimited pricing philosophy—unlike other U.S. carriers, such as AT&T, who last year scrapped its unlimited data pricing for smartphones in favour of two usage tiers ($15 per month for 200 MB and $25 per month for 2 GB).  Sprint believes that the change will allow it to meet customers’ needs, maintain simplicity in pricing and continue to invest in its network to meet subscribers’ growing demand for data. What do you think about the CSP’s move?

Total Telecom…
Bharti Airtel Sees 3G Stabilising ARPU, Adding to Earnings
Despite Indian telecom operators’ low average revenue per user (ARPU), Bharti Airtel sees its third-generation services helping to stabilise it. The CSP’s 3G service will allow multimedia capabilities on mobile networks and is likely to improve Bharti’s operating performance since it can charge higher tariffs—which is especially important for a market like India where cut-throat competition has impacted not only ARPU but also revenue growth, margins and profitability. Bharti expects its 3G offering to attract customers from rival networks, especially after mobile number portability, which lets users change operators without changing numbers.  Do you see 3G being a game changer in this region?

Light Reading…
Telcos Shift Their Focus
Light Reading kicked off its Service Provider IT (SPIT) event in London this week, and international managing editor Ray Le Maistre found that CSPs are “finally starting to practice what they preach.”

As Ray noted in his video, Heavy Reading analyst Ari Banerjee was also at the event, where he asked CSPs about their areas of focus and plans for the future. Ari found that by 2014, carriers want to deliver a much better customer experience and get services to market more quickly—and many CSPs are beginning to do this by delivering better networks and better services—in different ways—so that they can be disruptive in the market like competitors, such as Google. Ari also saw CSPs put an emphasis on services that tie into people’s social networks and noticed that CSPs are thinking about customer experience before services are brought to market—rather than after. Were you in attendance at the event? If so, do you have any other observations to share?