Amdocs launches ‘future ready’ RevenueONE billing system

Telecoms software vendor Amdocs has unveiled its bid to bring billing into the 5G and cloud era, in the form of RevenueONE.

The Amdocs marketing team saw fit to describe it as ‘game-changing’ in the headline of the press release. What game that is, whether it needs changing and whether or not this launch does so, we’ll leave to others to establish. The top line is that this is a billing system designed to help operators exploit all the new revenue opportunities we’re constantly being told have been generated by 5G and the move to the cloud.

To flesh out the press release we spoke to Ron Porter, Product Marketing Manager at Amdocs. He explained that 5G, IoT, connected environments, etc create all sorts of new billing opportunities for operators, but legacy billing systems aren’t geared to exploit them. A lot of this comes down to the kind of speed and flexibility that comes with having virtualized functions in the cloud, especially the edge. He concluded that the ultimate aim was to offer a billing system that is ‘future ready’.

“Amdocs RevenueONE brings together proven scalability and cloud-native architecture to accelerate the launch of new 5G services, while supporting existing products and offers, said Anthony Goonetilleke, Amdocs President of Media, Network and Technology. “At its core, the RevenueONE blueprint was built to scale, and was proven to support 200 million subscribers on a single platform.  This robust architecture allows CSPs to handle the velocity of new service launches, and the variety of new business models, that will come with 5G, while cutting time to market from days to minutes.

“Our goal was to continue to significantly reduce our hardware footprint while scaling to support the influx of new connected devices and services. Utilizing edge-based architecture to reduce network traffic, we believe RevenueONE will grow with our customers as consumers embrace new business models and services.”

The BSS/billion/digital transformation space is pretty competitive at the moment, with various vendors queueing up to giver operators the tools to capitalize on their 5G investments. If products like RevenueONE enable even half of what they promise the onus, as ever, is on operators to adapt the way they do business. 5G is still at an early stage, but the winners of it will surely be those operators that use it as a platform for genuine innovation.

The immediate 5G ‘choke point’: Rolling out 5G NR fast and efficiently

The arrival of 5G is elevating the visibility and relevancy of a wide range of innovative technologies across areas such as vRAN, SDN, NFV, IoT, AI/ML, MEC, network slicing, blockchain, quantum cryptography and more. Although the core 5G network architecture will evolve significantly in the coming years based on some of these technologies, the immediate challenge and choke point facing service providers is more fundamental, and some would say more mundane. The here-and-now problem that needs to be solved is how to deploy 5G New Radio (NR) and the related infrastructure quickly, with high quality, and as cost-effectively as possible.

There are some 4 to 5 million Radio Access Network (RAN) sites across the world today. Service providers need to update many of these in the coming years with 5G capabilities. A significant number of new sites, in many cases small cells, will be deployed as part of delivering higher 5G speeds using mmWave. Additionally, new service models that leverage 5G capabilities, such as CBRS/shared spectrum and private networks, will drive additional demands for broader RAN footprints. And finally, with 5G accelerating the move to multi-vendor, modular and open technology RAN networks, there will be increased complexity in planning, design, integration, commissioning, acceptance, verification and optimization.  The scope of the 5G NR rollout challenge is massive, and traditional approaches will be far too slow, will not scale and will not be economically viable.

To meet the market windows and timelines for 5G service launches, service providers globally will need to rethink the approaches they take to rolling out their networks and will need to ensure that the organizations and suppliers performing these tasks have the expertise, processes and tools to operationalize new RAN sites twice as fast as before, at a lower cost and more efficiently. Three main capabilities, outlined below, form the basis for being able to drive this level of step-change in RAN deployment, duration, and efficiency. Companies like Amdocs have these required skills and know-how and are already delivering vastly improved and superior results in RAN deployment activities.

The first competence is around infusing software-driven automation into as many aspects as possible of the 5G rollout lifecycle. It starts with ensuring use of software tools for end-to-end project orchestration for planning, building and modernizing the network. Multi-organization tracking systems enable operators to ensure graded visibility across the team (technicians, engineers, managers, executives); eliminate unnecessary paperwork (e.g. spreadsheets, email stops); provide timely notifications and reminders to avoid missing SLA obligations, and have guided processes that lead to error-free execution of deployment steps. These systems streamline the planning and project management process by combining automated technical design with dynamic project plan generation using reusable building blocks.

There is also a host of automation tools that are being leveraged during the integration and commissioning phase to speed up the deployment process and eliminate the need for multiple specialist field technicians to be on-site. Mobile and web-based applications allow trained personnel to rapidly validate the site, verify performance, conduct pre/post checks, and ensure that a new carrier or technology is seamlessly integrated into the network, alarm free. Automated reports enable service providers to turn on new sites faster by using go/no-go dashboards for validation and to check whether there are any KPIs gating the launch of one or more sites.

The second critical capability is having the right analytics tools and processes to ensure accurate, data-driven decision-making for network planning, design and optimization. A holistic approach that utilizes customer geo-located data, network KPIs and other related metrics minimizes operating and capital expenditure, improves network performance and provides an enhanced customer experience. These solutions address challenges around the co-existence of 5G NR and LTE, along with the introduction of active antenna systems which in turn introduce beam forming and beam steering to significantly increase network capacity, while ensuring a seamless network experience.

Big data analytics and visualization capabilities that simplify the viewing of multiple complex data sets can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of 5G RAN deployment and operations activities.  Flexible web platforms allow operators to consolidate data sources and tool outputs to a single, efficient source of data visualization and drilldown, with configuration, KPIs, sales data, retail, events and demographics as well as operator custom data in a single map and dashboard view.

The final area of required expertise is the breadth of cross-equipment-vendor/technology skills and best practices necessary to support high-quality deployment, commissioning and optimization of heterogenous RAN infrastructure. This will be increasingly important given the coexistence of multiple technologies and the need to support parallel networks during a time of transition. Discrepancy management for automatic detection and mitigation of issues across multiple vendor technologies will be required, and solutions that enable rule creation and template management for multiple carriers, bands, hardware configurations, layer management and different network topologies will be required to ensure timely and high-quality deployments.

The transition to 5G is challenging service providers to simplify and accelerate network deployments, which demands a new approach for RAN infrastructure buildout. Service providers need to adopt automated, analytics-driven and cross-equipment-vendor/technology solutions for planning, design, integration, acceptance and optimization in order to ensure their 5G deployments are fast, efficient and scalable.

www.amdocs.com/5G-fast

Opportunities and challenges as eSIM technology is primed for take-off

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Yuval Mayron, General Manager, IoT at Amdocs, takes a look at the business environment created by the mainstream adoption of eSIM technology.

When Apple declared in September that its handsets would have eSIM capabilities, the technology was still in its infancy. Widespread adoption was still someway off, but it’s integration into the iPhone X as part of a dual-SIM function was a clear indication of the significant role it would play in the next generation of mobile technology.

The eSIM incursion

Unlike its predecessor, eSIM is built into the mobile handset, part of a global specification from the GSMA that enables remote SIM provision for any device.

Although most smartphones do still have a physical SIM slot, eSIM is already taking hold. The latest models of the iPhone and Google Pixel have eSIM capabilities, for example.

However, it’s not just the smartphone market that will be bolstered by the arrival of eSIM. The technology is set to be a key growth driver for the Internet of Things (IoT). Consumer devices, which require always-on connectivity, such as wearables (e.g. Apple Watch or Fitbit), connected home devices (e.g. Amazon Echo), laptops and tablets, will all reap the rewards of eSIM and its ability to connect consumer and enterprise IoT devices.

eSIM will transform the mobile ecosystem, and widespread adoption of the technology will have significant ramifications for many of the industries stakeholders.

Consumers, the enterprise, CSPs and suppliers – the eSIM beneficiaries

According to the GSMA, eSIM is expected to create $8.96 billion in revenues by 2020. With this figure in mind, it’s understandable that stakeholders in the industry are jostling for a slice of the eSIM pie.

Amongst those to benefit most from the technology’s introduction are consumers and communication service providers (CSPs), but eSIM will also present opportunities for the enterprise and suppliers too.

Consumers

eSIM enables users to download multiple digital profiles (up to eight at any given time) from the cloud, directly onto their device; empowering subscribers to switch operators with unprecedented ease.

As eSIM enables subscribers to connect more devices, operators can offer multi-device packages and bespoke data plans. With eSIM, device bundling will become much easier, and consumers will be able to conveniently add new devices to their plans without having to enter a shop or wait for a physical SIM card to arrive in the post. Ultimately, consumers will benefit from reduced costs and enhanced customer experience through simplified device setup.

The enterprise

Businesses are set to profit from the convenience of eSIM too; adding new phones to a corporate mobile service and swapping devices between users with ease. The technology will also enable enterprises to offer personalised profiles and data plans for each user, which can be adjusted and optimised via eSIM remote management tools, depending on the individual needs of the employee.

Furthermore, any business that relies on IoT systems is likely to profit from the cost saving benefits of eSIM. Enterprises can remotely connect equipment to a mobile network using eSIM, which uses less space and is cheaper than traditional SIM technology. Consequently, mobile connectivity can be integrated into hardware where it was previously not feasible due to cost and space restrictions. This will be particularly useful to large-scale machine-to-machine deployments such as manufacturing and warehousing facilities, oil and gas, or power plants.

CSPs

The increase in multi-device packages, enabled by consumer and enterprise adoption of eSIM, should also present new revenue opportunities for mobile operators as customers scale-up their plans by adding new data-centric devices.

In fact, the opportunity for CSPs is tremendous. With the growing proliferation of smart devices across every consumer and business market, the demand for mobile, wireless connections will skyrocket. These opportunities will only be augmented by the arrival of 5G, which is yet to realise its full potential.

Manufacturers and suppliers

On the face of it, the arrival of the new eSIM standard should spell the end for the manufacturers and suppliers of SIM cards, with the physical SIM all but obsolete. However, eSIM, combined with the momentum behind connected devices, opens up a number of exciting and untapped markets.

Each new device and future innovation in the connected devices space is, in theory, primed for eSIM technology and ripe with opportunity for manufacturers and suppliers. It’s all about supply and demand, after all.

eSIM adoption – the business and technology challenges

Despite the rosy picture that eSIM presents, there remain a number of practical business and technology challenges which need to be addressed by CSPs before it can realise its full potential.

The new eSIM customer experience is complicated by the fact that each original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has its own proprietary processes and screens. Onboarding these, as well as BSS integration and modification, is convoluted, and new protocols, processes, integrations and certifications will be required.

There may also be challenges when troubleshooting eSIM-enabled devices. Call centre support agents are not currently able to analyse profile download issue for all eSIM-enabled devices from one screen and will therefore not be able to perform proactive corrective actions.

These issues could be further complicated by the need for integration with other ecosystem players, such as retailers, point of sale, channels and roaming, which will each require its own solution.

Overcoming the eSIM challenge

eSIM represents a seismic shift in the way the mobile ecosystem operates, so it’s only natural that there will be some teething problems before the technology is up and running smoothly.

For eSIM to succeed, operators need to develop a solution that enables a simple and intuitive customer experience, with seamless support for all functionalities and capabilities that we’ve come to expect from the latest generation of connected devices. This will only be possible if call centre and customer service agents have visibility of devices and control from a single screen.

The other issue is that of compatibility and integration. CSPs need a solution that will work in tandem with the full range of eSIM-enabled devices along with billing systems that work with all the relevant players and platforms in the ecosystem.

Achieving such capabilities is a complex undertaking, which will almost certainly require a specific enabler. This will likely be in the form of an eSIM cloud solution, which would allow integration to all device OEMs and services providers, enabling a one-time integration, and eliminating the need to integrate hundreds of times with all the different players.

This will result in a unified experience in eSIM lifecycle management, for every device type, every OEM, channel, and location, effectively and seamlessly managing settlement among all ecosystem stakeholders.

With a cloud solution in place, eSIM technology could finally be primed for take-off.

Open 5G: Fast. Smart. Monetize

The open imperative

Open, intelligent networks will form the foundation for tomorrow’s digital society.  They will leverage the speed of 5G and high-performance infrastructure to drive hyper-scale transactions and immersive experiences. Edge and cloud connectivity will bring to life rich enterprise services, on demand and scaled for purpose.  Open networks leverage the strength of open-source and open standards, are virtualized running on cloud technologies, and infused with AI for automation and security.

Amdocs’ Open 5G solutions suite is designed to help service providers accelerate their 5G journey to the new era of virtualized, distributed cloud networks and intelligent connectivity. Open 5G is part of the Amdocs Open Network portfolio, which gives service providers the freedom to work with a wide range of innovation partners and across multiple environments and domains. This means more choice, faster service delivery, better customer experiences and accelerated revenue growth.

Meeting the demands of the 5G Era

As service providers deploy 5G networks and enhance LTE infrastructures along the way, they are looking to meet connectivity demands at a lower per-unit cost to stay competitive, want flexibility and agility to implement the best-match technology, and are seeking to improve efficiencies despite operating in an increasingly complex environment – while at the same time delivering an exceptional end-user experience, and accelerating new revenue streams in enterprise and via differentiated consumer services.

5G means different things to different people, but in general 5G leaps past existing 4G/LTE networks in three areas: capacity/throughput enhancement; low latency, and massive connectivity. Each area poses a different set of requirements for the network and creates different fulfillment challenges. But, in a nutshell, the following are the key changes in the network needed to address these three goals:

  • New radio and network densification, including small cells rollout and fiber deployment.
  • Hybrid networks, covering the full mix of fixed plus mobile (FMC), physical plus virtual (NFV/SDN), 4G plus 5G (C-RAN, MEC, UP-CP separation), and cloud plus edge.
  • Distributed core networks, mesh connectivity and slicing, coupled with dynamic network and service management.
  • Proactive assurance, automation and closed-loop operations.
  • Everything underpinned with an open, multi-vendor ecosystem of solutions.

To achieve their objectives, service providers need a strong, capable partner and enabler to drive the required network transformation. Amdocs’ vast experience, comprehensive solutions portfolio and disruption position in the network space can all help service providers best realize fast, open, smart and monetized networks.

Amdocs Open 5G

Amdocs Open 5G is based on open APIs and open-source software such as the Linux Foundation’s Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP), and integrates with partner technologies, all to create an open and comprehensive ecosystem of capabilities. Open 5G includes solutions in three areas that enable service providers to accelerate and simplify their 5G and future network journeys.

  • Open 5G Fast focusses on getting rapidly to market with solutions for network planning and placement, densification and rollout, integration and acceptance, and end-to-end optimization.
  • Open 5G Smart drives automation and intelligence to the service layer with Amdocs’ network orchestration, autonomous operations, and slice and edge management solutions.
  • Open 5G Monetize includes Amdocs’ 3GPP-compliant charging platform designed to run at the scale and speed of 5G. Other essential elements of Amdocs’ monetization platform include rapid partner onboarding, agile catalog to create the right offers for tomorrow, and digital user engagement.

Open 5G – Fast

The nature of 5G technology is such that achieving the required capacity and performance involves utilizing wider spectrum and higher frequencies (MM wave), which in turn involves placing many more components into the network, covering the radio, backhaul and core network. This is achieved through network densification.  Service providers are carefully looking to ensure existing asset utilization for a smooth and cost-effective transition. They are also exploring ways to increase the agility in deploying network infrastructure (more radio sites, more fiber, shared spectrum, etc.) and application capabilities required to meet their needs.

Business-as-usual approaches for network planning, build out and acceptance to achieve densification and ‘turn up’ of new/shared spectrum are neither scalable nor efficient. Furthermore, the lead times for operationalization and launch will be unacceptable by the business. Service providers need different approaches that leverage automation, and experts to drive faster and more efficient deployments.

Fig 1. – Capacity Enhancement: Network Requirements

Image1

To support network densification, Amdocs has several relevant solutions and services that can increase service provider agility in deploying new infrastructure, and rapidly expand and optimize the network to deliver the services customers expect. We can simplify and streamline 5G network rollout with vendor-independent, standardized best practices for network planning, network optimization, network integration and network acceptance. Amdocs can perform these activities 30-40% faster through use of advanced software solutions for data analysis and collection, and process automation. This includes support for advanced radio technologies such as 5G MIMO benchmarking/optimization and smart capacity planning that applies advanced algorithms to a combination of network and business data to make investment recommendations. Additionally, Amdocs supports intelligent management of spectrum, including re-farming and optimization.

In the US market, Amdocs also enables operators to rapidly and cost-effectively leverage shared spectrum through our CBRS spectrum access system (SAS) subscription offering. This FCC-certified solution fosters the development of innovative new wireless broadband services and business opportunities utilizing the newly available high-quality CBRS spectrum (3.5GHz band).

Open 5G – Smart

Low latency is critical to many of the 5G real-time applications that service providers are exploring for new revenues. Service providers are looking to have more flexibility and agility in supporting real-time applications and implementing the best-match infrastructure / technology for these applications. They are seeking solutions to enable them to move away from closed, monolithic and dedicated appliance architectures to open, modular distributed networks that are software-defined, virtualized and cloud-based. Additionally, they are seeking the software smarts to orchestrate and manage all the pieces in this distributed virtualized network, avoiding the vendor lock-in they are subject to in today’s networks.

Fig. 2 – Real-time Applications: Network Requirements

Image2

Amdocs has a range of capabilities to enable service providers to transition to an open and virtualized network, depending on the lifecycle stage they are in. For those service providers just getting started on moving forward one VNF at a time, we can provide consulting and professional services for onboarding deployment and testing. For those service providers looking to enhance services or deliver new services to market using a new parallel stack, we can provide a packaged solution (e.g. vRAN, vPCRF, etc.) that allows them to get to market quickly, and then build on further over time. And, for those engaged in a full network transformation, the Amdocs NFV powered by ONAP solution provides a comprehensive orchestration and automation platform, built on open source and partnerships, with integrated intelligence and analytics, and multiple cloud deployment options – all with the aim of helping services providers accelerate the transition to NFV/SDN and service innovation.

The increase in the number of users and devices in 5G networks, as well as network evolution, introduces a new operating environment where dynamic service and network configurations are continuously being implemented. This requires a paradigm shift in network operations from static, reactive manual operations to proactive, automated operations, with service assurance being one of the first areas needing to change. The traditional approaches for monitoring, assurance and break-fix will not work for the new network. Reactive approaches based on looking at low-level network events/telemetry and responding to them in “firefighting” mode is unsustainable. Service providers need to build a smarter network, and infuse intelligence, service-centricity and automation into all aspects of operating a complex 5G network. This need is even further accentuated as service providers are under significant pressure to reduce costs and increase automation.

Fig. 3 – Massive Connectivity: Network Requirements

Image3

The future mode of operations must be service-driven, focusing on designing how the service intent will be assured upfront, including the closed-loop models and policies to autonomously assure it. Amdocs Open5G includes an autonomous service operations capability that takes a unique approach in addressing service assurance. First, at the design stage we define the service model and the policies of how to assure it (including service intent and what telemetries to listen to). Then, after fulfillment, a state machine monitors the predefined telemetries, and understands the service impact from the modeled hierarchy. If telemetries indicate a defined policy deviation, it is autonomously resolved accordingly. In parallel, we can implement guided automation when human intervention is needed, while learning from these ongoing events to introduce updated policies for autonomous resolution. Additionally, new policies can be defined and deployed on an ongoing manner via a seamless DevOps model.

Open 5G – Monetize

The immediate push towards 5G is still centered on addressing the conventional pressures of improving customer experience and ensuring an adequate competitive response. In reality though, 5G will create a paradigm shift in monetization from volume to quality, creating many more new opportunities for service providers. New network capabilities will offer further app-based monetization opportunities and service providers will have the ability to tailor networks to partners and services in order in increase the value of those offerings.

There are different approaches to solving the monetization puzzle, and different roads that service providers will choose as they go forward. Amdocs’ capabilities, such as the network solutions previously mentioned, as well as our flexible catalog offering, optimized policy controller, charging and billing capabilities, eSIM manager, and IoT and partner platforms, all support the realization and monetization of use cases across several areas:

  • Slice-based connectivity: Network slicing is a mechanism that utilizes virtual slices of the network being used and sold for different scenarios based on location, usage requirements, and other parameters.
  • Pay-as-you-grow network infrastructure: This concept will allow service providers to tap into the “long tail” comprising a much larger number of potential users, many with smaller ARPU. Virtual environments will allow spinning up/down of resources as needed, without large upfront investments and high capex outlays, enabling service experimentation and eliminating risk of stranded capex.
  • 5G “on the edge”: A variety of value-added services can be provided by hosting applications at the edge using mobile edge computing deployments.
  • Value-added services reclaimed: 5G will provide service providers with a new opportunity to position themselves as providers of additional value-add services. They could eventually evolve into platform providers for a wide range of microservices for network capabilities across core and edge networks.
  • Embedded communications: Logic/intelligence for things like robotics applications are generally inserted in end devices. There are opportunities to centralize the intelligence and execute actions remotely, and with 5G networks carriers can monetize these as well by putting compute functionality on a latency, high reliability network.
  • Ubiquitous connectivity - Fixed wireless broadband represents the shortest route to 5G monetization. Unlike most other 5G scenarios, which target mobile devices, fixed wireless is designed for static locations such as homes and businesses, potentially delivering faster speeds, while costing far less to deploy.

Enter into the new Open 5G era

Service providers have started the process of moving from monolithic network domains to modular architectures, from closed / proprietary systems to open systems with no vendor-lock-in, from static networks to more dynamic and automated networks, from siloed stacks to seamless integrated solutions that span network and IT layers, and from physical dedicated appliances to virtualized and cloud solutions

After many years of predictions and anticipation, 5G is now becoming a reality. The sheer technical scope and diversity of possible use cases encompassed by 5G means that operators will have to carefully choose their way forward. They will need solution and services partners that can truly help them transform from being traditional communications service providers to digital service providers. And most importantly, they need partners who will enable them to disrupt the existing network status quo to achieve the required flexibility, agility and speed necessary to succeed in the new market environment.

With extensive domain expertise, Amdocs can assist operators with the optimal set of solutions and services to best fit their journey, and to lead the 5G revolution. Amdocs Open 5G speeds up deployments, automates operations, streamlines innovation and opens networks to their full potential – today.

 

Most European CSPs expect more enterprise revenue opportunities from 5G

A new survey conducted by IDC, commissioned by Amdocs, has found that almost 80% of European CSPs anticipate increased enterprise revenue opportunities from 5G.

This was the headline datapoint from a survey in which IDC spoke to a bunch of senior management at CSPs from around the world. Another notable finding was that a third of all operators plan to offer enterprise 5G services in 2019 and that will increase to 84% of them in 2020.

“Operators of 5G networks can support mission-critical enterprise communications, with performance backed by service-level agreements,” said John Delaney, Associate VP of Mobility Research at IDC. “Our research shows that mobile operators are optimistic about the potential for 5G to support an expansion of their role in the enterprise market.”

“The survey clearly demonstrates that operators see 5G as a means to restore value around core connectivity services for business customers.” said Matthieu Loreille, VP Head of Consumer, Enterprise and Technology Marketing at Amdocs. “5G technologies such as network slicing will allow them to tailor the performance, security level and characteristics appropriate to each business, opening up differentiating monetization opportunities.

“Furthermore, by leveraging additional technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge computing and hybrid cloud, operators will be strongly positioned to support enterprises in their digital transformation journey. Effectively, this enables them to shift connectivity to the heart of their solutions with meaningful value-added services on top such as cybersecurity, cloud migration, hybrid cloud operations and many more.”

Other datapoints include 72% of European operators reckon they’ll be first to market with 5G enterprise services and 65% of them said their enterprise customers have already expressed an interest. Obviously Amdocs thinks these findings should compel operators to invest loads more in software and services, which it happens to provide.

Amdocs and Openet settle baffling, endless patent dispute

After eight years of ensuring expensive holidays for their lawyers, rival telecoms software companies Amdocs and Openet have decided to call it a draw.

An extremely short announcement from Amdocs said “Amdocs and Openet today announced that they have settled a patent infringement dispute in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  As part of the confidential settlement, Amdocs agreed to license certain patents to Openet.”

Back in 2010 youthful Light Reading hack Ray Le Maistre spoke to (then and still) Openet CEO Niall Norton in a bid to find out what Amdocs’ problem was. Norton, however, seemed to be as baffled as everyone else by this act of unilateral legal aggression and chose to conclude that it was merely a measure of how intimidated Amdocs was by the plucky Irish BSS upstart.

“[Amdocs] is a good company and a ferocious competitor,” said Norton at the time. “It’s good to know they’re thinking about us as much as we’re thinking about them. We’re open-minded about what might happen next. Our lawyers say this could take anything between three and 12 months to sort out.”

That’s what they always say Niall and then, before you know it, eight years have gone past and they’re the only ones with any cash. To be fair the case does seem to be especially arcane. A spot of light Googling revealed one case that was apparently resolved in 2016 and another that came to a conclusion a month or so ago. Both accounts seem like very effective cures for insomnia but we don’t feel any more enlightened about the merits and outcome of this litigatiathon as a result of enduring them.

In essence Amdocs accused Openet of infringing on some of its patents and the fact that Openet is now going to shell out some license fees would seem to vindicate it to some degree. But if we assume Amdocs’ intention was at the very least to force Openet to entirely abandon the technology in question, and maybe even to force it out of business, then the case seems to have been a failure.

How the 5G revolution will impact service providers (and how we use their services)

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Amit Sheps, Product Marketing Manager at Amdocs looks at some of the new things 5G will introduce.

When 4G rollout began, it was referred to as an “evolution” from the capabilities of 3G, ushering in an era of hyper-connectivity that would change our lives. Indeed, it allowed us to stream music and video anywhere, navigate our way around areas unknown, and transformed our shopping experience by allowing us to compare prices locally and across borders.

But clearly, this will pale in comparison with the impending rollout of 5G, and the “revolution” that will accompany it. 5G will take hyper-connectivity to an entirely new level. For example, smart cities will be monitored using thousands of sensors, with wireless HD cameras ensuring citizens’ safety. Meanwhile, autonomous cars will take the stress out of driving. And AR glasses will finally come of age, changing the way we watch sports and do shopping, and providing technicians and other tradesmen with the information they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

There are also predictions about 5G’s influence on medicine. Our health will be monitored remotely, and with the help of AI, illnesses diagnosed even before they occur. In more severe cases, personal health data will be made available to specialists to make diagnoses, recommend treatment – and in some cases – perform medical procedures remotely.

Changing the service paradigm

Naturally, service providers will need to adapt their strategies to support all that 5G has to offer. I believe that as the 5G revolution begins to gather steam, we will start to see the following changes:

Handsets make way for devices: whether you swear by iPhone or Android, most of our connectivity today is tied to a handset, which is responsible for providing connectivity (while some prefer a smart watch or tablet). With 5G, new devices such as AR glasses, wearables, cars and more, will become commonplace, with each requiring its own dedicated connectivity.

Service-embedded connectivity: 5G will accelerate bundling of products or services with embedded connectivity, such as a heart-monitoring wearable, which transmits data to a medical center directly, without the need to be tethered to a handset via Bluetooth, for example.

From volume to value: Most data bundles sold today are based on traffic volume, without regard to network performance. With 5G, some applications will require a minimum level of network performance based on bandwidth and latency, in order to provide an appropriate experience.

Redefining relationships

With the changes above, service providers will need to adapt their approach accordingly. This will mean the establishment of new customer relationships, including:

With subscribers: While on one hand, service providers will have the capability to provide connectivity requirements and content bundling, on the other, monetization opportunities will be limited. For this reason, the focus should shift to monetizing the customer experience by adjusting network performance to subscribers’ needs rather than volumes. An example could be assigning AR consumers high bandwidth and low latency to meet service demands.

With enterprises: The best example of an enterprise 5G use case is Industry 4.0, which enables automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Such deployments will require network performance that is capable of maintaining the enterprise business. As a premium service, this will provide a significant monetization opportunity.

With partners: An important change that will be accelerated by 5G is the capability for an enterprise to launch a product with “tailored” connectivity. A prime example is a heart monitor that sends patient data to the cloud for real-time analysis to detect anomalies. Such services will require network performance that ensures service availability through low latency and ultra-reliability.

The ball is in our court

While such changes will require service providers to make considerable investments, with planning and strategy, it will open numerous opportunities to seize the reins of the 5G revolution – enabling new revenue streams and the ability to create differentiation that will attract more subscribers. But the key is not to wait. The planning has to start now.

 

Learn more by meeting Amdocs at 5G World 2018.

Taking the BS out of BSS

Conversations at MWC 2018 with a couple of telecoms vendors reveal a more pragmatic, bespoke approach to doing business.

One manifestation of this is a tendency to move away from telecoms-specific vernacular to the language of the broader tech industry. So we no longer use defensive, them-and-us language like OTTs to describe internet companies and vendors such as Openet and Amdocs seems to be avoiding categorising their offerings along traditional lines such as BSS, in favour of the more customer-centric language of ‘solutions’.

Niall Norton, CEO of Openet, has been banging this drum for a while. He is trying to bring the kind of customer-centricity we associate with companies like Amazon to the telecoms B2B space by introducing greater flexibility to his offerings. The ultimate purpose of this seems to be to enable CSP customers to buy only what they need, when they need it.

In many ways this is counter-intuitive in an industry that has historically aimed for ‘vendor lock-in’, by selling massive end-to-end packages that make the customer umbilically dependent on the vendor indefinitely, for fear or the disruption that starting again with someone else will cause. The dependency creates the opportunity to charge high margin servicing and consulting fees whenever the CSP wants to change or upgrade anything.

But Norton’s bright idea is that by offering more bespoke packages he not only lowers the barriers to entry for making any kind of sale, but the CSP will hopefully end up spending more down the line when the business benefits of what they have already bought prove themselves.

Over at Amdocs the big news there is the recent acquisition of video-on-demand specialist Vubiquity, which only completed a few days before the start of the show. The most intriguing aspect of this piece of M&A was the clear statement of intent by Amdocs to cater to a growing trend in its core market: multiplay.

Operators all over the world are investing heavily in video provision and premium content to add spice and stickiness to their communications bundles. As we found when speaking to Vubiquity CEO Darcy Antonellis (pictured), the thinking behind the move is to put more tools at the disposal of its customers, and also to do so in a modular and flexible way to enable them to get to market faster.

Your average operator isn’t going to go toe-to-toe with Netflix or Amazon when it comes to on-demand video (one possible exception being AT&T if it ever completes its acquisition of Time Warner). But that doesn’t mean they can’t offer some genuinely valuable video services to end users, perhaps focusing more on niche and long-tail offerings and helping with their discovery.

Antonellis is now the GM of Amdocs’ newly-created media division, which further illustrate the strategic importance Amdocs is putting on servicing this area. She is a veteran on the broadcast and video industries and intends to confer some of that expertise onto the operator channel. Again, the emphasis will be on trying to deliver bespoke offerings, tailored to the unique business opportunities identified by each customer.

In keeping with the broader theme of this year’s show, the telecoms industry seems to be finally moving from the hype phase of the cycle towards seriously looking as business cases for the new opportunities we’ve been hearing about for so long. If vendors want operators to become more agile in order to take on the internet giants then their offerings need to match that. On the evidence of Openet and Amdocs at least, that seems to be exactly what they’re doing.

Amdocs drops $224 million on Vubiquity for an extra shot of VOD

Communications software vendor Amdocs has made a strategic move into the video-on-demand market with the acquisition of Vubiquity for $224 million.

Vubiquity has specialized in providing video-on-demand infrastructure and operations for some time, and seems to be well positioned as telcos increasingly look to the multiplay model to add value to their subscribers. Amdocs will have noticed that many of its customers want to get better a video and general content services, so this acquisition will give it a significant string to its bow in that respect.

“This acquisition uniquely positions Amdocs at the centre of increased convergence across the content community and video distributors including major OTT providers,” said Eli Gelman, Amdocs CEO. “Our joint offerings address the media and entertainment industry’s challenge in balancing the incredible growth of content and the many ways to consume content with making programming easier, faster to deliver and ultimately watch, while also delivering profits.”

“Vubiquity has successfully been connecting content owners and distributors across many diverse platforms and evolving business models at the core of its support to the media community,” said Vubiquity CEO Darcy Antonellis.

“Our capabilities, coupled with Amdocs’ global scale and rich set of complementary solutions around monetisation, analytics and personalised customer experience will be truly unique, allowing us to deliver to a larger set of customers while solving key industry challenges. This includes helping video distributors deliver additional profitable offerings, as well as enabling content owners to focus on content creation and maximising licensing revenues.”

Antonellis will stay on as head of Amdocs Media Division and has a formidable reputation within that industry so, as long as Amdocs can conclude the tricky business of integrating a successful entrepreneur into a larger corporate structure they should have a good asset. Having said that $224 million is not a lot for money for a leading VOD player, which indicates that sector might not be the cash cow man y operators are hoping it will be.

 

 

Most people baffled by their phone bills – survey

Some research commissioned by billing vendor Brite:Bill has found that the majority of people find their phone bills hard to understand.

The precise figure is 68% and furthermore 75% are not even interested in the information provided even if they can get their heads around it. The apparent purpose of commissioning the research was to demonstrate that the phone bill and more generally billing communications are a major pain point for subscribers. It should be noted that Brite:Bill, which is owned by Amdocs, specialises in providing billing communications platforms.

“How much a customer likes a product often matters less than how they feel about their experience,” said Alan Coleman, Head of Brite:Bill. “Billing is the least transformed part of the digital experience today, but as a key touch point it must evolve, too. Service providers are under increasing pressure to transform billing from a negative, stressful experience into a useful and interesting one that can bring them a competitive advantage.

“This starts with presenting the information so that it is more relevant, visual, and easy to understand. At the same time, providers have to be more proactive in dealing with billshock and bill frustration – for example, by advising their customers on ways to save money that are relevant to that particular customer’s usage pattern.”

The research, which was conducted by Censuswide Research, surveyed 3,236 consumers across the USA, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil and the UK It focused a fair bit on generational differences, with older people finding their bills more confusing. Apparently younger people are happier to communicate with chatbots and more likely to expect their billing communications to feature proactive efforts on the part of their provider to save them money.

Other interesting data points include the discovery that 29% of respondents have contacted their CSPs because of billing issues and that 44% of churners had experienced a billing problem.