Reducing risk and minimising transformation pain

When calculated risks are successful, revenue and customer loyalty increase, and C-level executives get big rewards. This TMF report looks at both sides of risk and assesses different options for transforming BSS based on potential risk and rewards. The good news for operators is that there are many options for transformation, and they can choose a path that best suits their existing support system environments.

Read this report to understand:

  • What the risks are in digital transformation and how to navigate them
  • Why edge computing could be a key part of telcos’ digital transformation strategies
  • How CSPs are using, digital BSS solutions to launch in new markets
  • Why using a microservices-based overlay can be a good strategy
  • Why best-of-breed solutions are making a comeback
  • How TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture can help CSPs transition to cloud-based BSS

Why agility will be at the heart of 5G monetisation

This article is sponsored by Openet

As the 5G digital services race begins, we now find communication service providers (CSPs) at various stages of planning, designing or deploying new infrastructure. The range of potential 5G use cases are huge. Everything from gaming to smart factories to VR-based entertainment. Unlike in the 4G era, the operators have one asset that can help establish their place at the center of the 5G value chain. That asset is the 5G network itself, or more specifically the opportunity to manage network performance down to individual application level using network slicing.

Network slicing has emerged as a leading technology that will unlock the true value of 5G for enterprises and industries. It is expected to change the economics of the connectivity business by enabling new providers to enter the market—for example web-scale players—and allowing vendors to offer competitive ‘networks-as-a-platform’ services.

But this new technology, cannot be truly be successful if it is run on legacy monetisation tools still used by many CSPs. These outdated systems are likely incapable of supporting the complex use cases network slicing will enable. In fact, CSPs will likely have to adopt a ‘trial and error’ approach when it comes to launching these new use cases and understanding appropriate revenue models. This calls for an extremely agile monetisation platform that is both configurable and scale-able.

Monetisation of the future

Traditionally, CSP monetisation systems have been highly customised for specific requirements and use cases. While this has worked for previous wireless generations that have come with their dedicated use cases—3G was all about voice, while 4G was focused on video—this approach will not work in a 5G age. Indeed, future monetisation platforms must be agile and configurable to meet the dynamic requirements of 5G and support the lack of clarity regarding its use cases. This will require CSPs to embrace modular and scale-able approaches that allow for monetisation platforms to be customised in real-time, according to individual use case requirements.

What’s more, CSPs should embrace cloud-based delivery models, doing away with legacy deployment models, requiring high levels of support and integration. By leveraging cloud-based models, CSPs will be able to upgrade solutions seamlessly and quickly, thus futureproofing CSP monetisation for the long-term. In addition, CSPs will be able to leverage cloud capabilities to drive automation, for example by enabling automated slice creation and application allocation and eventually application automation whereby slice selection or instantiation can be called up by the application itself.

5G is creating a paradigm shift for CSPs that is prompting them to think differently about monetisation. It is driving them to embrace new business models that can support a variety of anticipated—yet undefined—use cases and to cater to new customer profiles—namely the enterprise. But their monetisation success will be heavily reliant on their ability to build monetisation tools that enable them to cope with the demands of network slicing. So what do those requirement look like when thinking about monetisation?

Network slicing prowess

Network slicing will enable a number of exciting use cases. Importantly, it will allow CSPs to monetise their network assets in a way that has never otherwise been possible. By leveraging network slicing, CSPs will be able to set dedicated SLAs for specific applications, and finally put a price on network performance guarantee.

Monetisation will therefore need to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Indeed, CSPs leveraging network slicing may consider three different approaches to monetisation. First, cross-slice charging whereby a single, centralised charging engine is used to charge for all services across all slices. Second, in-slice charging, whereby each slice will have its own charging engine, with each responsible for charging for all services occurring within the slice. Third, hybrid slice charging whereby CSPs choose to use a combination of cross-slice and in-slice charging, for example in-slice charging systems may be selected for ultra-low latency use cases, while cross-slice charging can be deployed across all other slices.

When thinking about their approach to monetisation, CSPs must take into consideration how new phases of 5G deployment will drive the evolution of network slicing, going from capacity-based slices to service-specific slices, and ultimately, to application-driven slices. This evolution will have a knock-on effect on monetisation; we’ll see CSPs go from requiring only near real-time charging to being reliant on fully cloud-based monetisation systems.

5G and network slicing will create new, exciting opportunities for CSPs to rethink how they monetise their network, and how they create new revenue streams. But doing so will require fresh thinking and new approaches, it will force them to unshackle themselves from the burden of legacy software and look towards agile ways of working, such as open source and DevOps. It will prompt a change in CSP culture and finally give them the ability to be bold, and brave, and will ultimately dictate their success in a 5G era.

Openet & Omdia – 5G Monetisation White Paper

5G can mean increased revenues – if operators have the correct systems in place to enable them to quickly make the most of the new revenue opportunities. In order examine the system developments that are needed Openet have teamed up with leading analyst firm Omdia to produce a white paper on 5G monetisation.

This paper discusses the following:
• In terms of BSS what do operators need to do in order to be ready to make the most of 5G
• The impact of new opportunities such as B2B on 5G monetisation strategies
• How operational and system agility will be the foundation for success in 5G

Best of breed, not best of suite

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this article, Martin Morgan, VP Marketing, at Openet, looks at how the BSS market is evolving.

For all operators around the world, cost continues to be a big concern—whether that be the cost of 5G infrastructure, or the cost of maintaining or increasing their subscriber base. Any potential cost saving operators achieve can have a big impact on their overall profitability. This is forcing operators to rethink old ways of working. It is propelling operators towards a more open, collaborative way of working that is seeing smaller, independent network vendors displacing major NEPs. Change is happening across the entire network – in the core, in the RAN and in supporting OSS and BSS.

The emergence of open RAN is a key example of this change. The trend of operators embracing and deploying general-purpose, vendor-neutral RAN hardware and software is changing the game. Moving away from vendor-centric RAN solutions is presenting massive cost savings to operators—savings few can ignore.

As always, intelligent business practice means optimising all available efficiencies on offer to deliver maximum value to shareholders. Operators that innovate most expansively when it comes to new approaches will reap the benefits. The rise of network and digital transformation projects has encouraged operators to experiment and reinvent themselves. In many cases, this new culture of freedom and experimentation is at loggerheads with the agenda of the major NEPs. Open RAN is an example of this freedom to think and act differently and there is a similar trend taking place with BSS.

Putting the operator first

BSS has traditionally been made up of large, costly systems that are slow to move, and difficult to upgrade. These were often offered by large vendors, as part of mega contracts to deliver multiple solutions across an operator’s network. While this approach may have seemingly made the process of technology procurement more “convenient”, the reality is that it has also left operators with solutions that are incapable of keeping pace with market dynamics and meeting subscriber expectations. Luckily, the move to more open architecture and adjunct systems are overcoming these limitations and offering the speed and agility to evolve with new technologies, like 5G, and enable operators to launch and monetise new services in super quick time. Digital BSS now very much exists for operators to maximise the digital 5G age.

This new approach is changing how vendors view their operator customers, and how operators perceive their vendors. We’re seeing more and more vendors work together, as opposed to against each other, with different vendors bringing their best “assets” to the operator table. We’re also seeing the creation of multi-vendor ecosystems and environments within operator networks that encourage the open RAN principles of innovation, performance and standardization in a way that the traditional ‘best of suite’ approach simply didn’t.

So what’s changing for vendors? Well, quite simply, they’re having to focus on things that were once deemed less important, for example: quality, efficiency, and flexibility around integration. They’re now having to think about what operators want from them, rather than what they have to offer. We’re also seeing a push towards adopting open APIs and open architectures, that are helping operators drive lower integration costs for BSS software, lower cost to serve and reduce the length of development cycles.

What being open truly means

For operators, this move towards a new way of working is very good news. Today, more than ever, operators need to have the agility to deploy new services quickly and easily. The days of waiting for months for a new service, feature or offering to be deployed are now over. Operators need to be able to act fast and build new offers to react to changing consumer trends. Doing so will not only ensure they are able to monetise their current and future network assets, but can also play an important role in boosting subscriber engagement, preventing the operator from being seen as a utility or a “dumb pipe”.

Operators around the world are already reaping the rewards of embracing this open, agile way of working. For example, in Indonesia, leading operator Telkomsel built and launched an entirely new sub-brand targeting its growing Gen-Z population in just 18 weeks. Telkomsel built by.U using open digital APIs, open digital architectures and an ecosystem of vendors all working together to implement an end-to-end BSS suite. This kind of agility helps operators innovate quickly and react to changes and trends occurring across their subscriber base—in this case, Telkomsel knew it needed a new, different offering to appeal to a younger audience and for that a new brand was critical.

The fact that Open RAN and its principles are being applied to other parts of the network has many upsides for operators. What may have once been seen as a risky approach to deploying new technologies, may today be a safer alternative. In an open, multi-vendor environment, managed by an SI, an underperforming vendor can easily be swapped out without placing strain on the rest of the operation. This gives operators the freedom to choose and select who they work with and on what terms, and reduces the cost and headache associated with being stuck in lengthy impractical vendor-operator relationships.

Ultimately, this open collaborative approach is all about giving operators the right tools to become the digital providers of tomorrow.

 

Martin Morgan is the VP Marketing at Openet. With 30 years’ experience in mobile communications software, Martin has worked in mobile since the early days of the industry. He’s ran the marketing teams for several BSS companies and served on trade association and company boards. In that time, he’s spoken at over 50 telecoms conferences worldwide and had a similar number of articles published in the telecoms trade press and served on trade association and company boards. At Openet Martin is responsible for marketing thought leadership and market interaction.

Telecoms.com Annual Industry Survey 2019

As we move towards the end of another eventful year, Telecoms.com has once again conducted its Annual Industry Survey, inviting fellow telecoms professionals to look back on 2019, and look ahead towards 2020 and beyond. In this report, we share with you the key findings of the survey as well as our analysis of them, with topics including: industry update, 5G, digital transformation, IoT, and OSS/BSS.

Here are a few highlights from the findings:
• Over half of the respondents think 2019 has been good, and three quarters believe 2020 will be better
• 5G, IoT, Cloud are among the priority investment areas
• Although 5G will keep rolling out aggressively in different parts of the world, 88% of respondents believe the industry should continue investing in 4G
• Budget alone will not guarantee digital transformation success, but the lack of it can be a deal breaker
• 81% of respondents see smart cities as the biggest IoT opportunity outside of home
• 70% of respondents believe BSS should undergo major changes in order to enable custom network services

We hope you enjoy the read.

 

Research indicates strong demand for digital services delivered by telcos

BSS vendor Openet has published some new research that suggests consumers have a better perception of operators as digital brands than had been feared.

While it should be stressed that Openet, as a digital transformation vendor, has a vested interest in encouraging operators to invest in their digital offering, the research was conducted independently and the results are deserving of consideration on their own merits.

Presenting the findings Openet expressed pleasant surprise at how many positive responses the survey got on the matter of operators as digital brands. Respondents from five countries around the world placed their operator above even Spotfy and eBay when asked to rank bands according to ‘digital leadership’. Meanwhile, as an industry, telecoms was relatively well regarded in that respect too.

Openet survey slide 1

Openet survey slide 2

The moral of the story, as far as Openet is concerned, is two-fold. Firstly operators should have the confidence to offer a nice lot of digital stuff to their customers, be that through partnerships with the dreaded OTTs or their own innovation. Secondly they should be further encouraged to do so by the latent demand for such products and services, as implied in the slide below, which shows that even respondents to view operators mainly as utility companies are receptive to being offered more.

Openet survey slide 3

“To achieve digital parity with many of the world’s most recognisable technology brands underlines the significant progress mobile operators have made,” said Niall Norton, Openet CEO. “The global operator community most certainly had some catching up to do in driving digital awareness and engagement in the face of new competition and approaches.

“Most operators launched strategic digital transformation projects to not only revolutionise how they create, offer and monetise new digital services, but also re-architect their networks. Our study reveals the significant value of these projects, and the exciting commercial opportunities that await them.”

“The global operator community should be congratulated for these survey findings. Many of them have had their world’s turned upside down over the past few years and entered a period of re-education and re-invention. Our survey clearly shows that most have successfully completed a period of digital re-invention to forge new customer relationships according to the same values, albeit across new channels and through new services.

“What is most exciting is that global operators have only scratched the surface in terms of unlocking the full potential of the digital technology that enables these new working practices. Lucrative new revenues await all operators that have completed or are completing their digital transformations – and seeing their CAPEX costs for enabling technology infrastructure slashed at the same time. The game has changed forever.”

Openet has gone all-in on this stuff and seems to be reaping the rewards after a couple of years of difficult adjustment. A focus on both offering operators bespoke BSS offerings and enabling them to offer more relevant stuff to their customers seems to be a t the core of this. Operators constantly fret about the dangers of commoditisation and it looks like there is market demand for them to add value to their core offering. Now they just need find the courage and determination to chase that business.

Monetising 5G is all about planning for the unexpected

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this article, Niall Norton, CEO at Openet, explains why question marks over the operator business case for 5G should be a cause for excitement, rather than concern.

5G is now a commercial reality. South Korea and North America are leading the world in bringing this new technology to market, despite ongoing industry cynicism on the lack of obvious monetizable use cases or supporting business cases. In this respect, 5G is merely following the same narrative that accompanied the arrival of 3G and 4G. The iPhone saved the blushes of 3G, then 4G saved 3G by offering the true mobile broadband capability that 3G promised. The industry was equally in the dark on how ROI would be gained – the networks were built regardless, and the customers signed up.

The truth is, very few can say with any real certainty that they know how they will make money from 5G, or what real consumer intention to sign up will be. But that hasn’t prevented tremendous excitement building for the technology. A recent Telecoms.com survey of telecoms professionals, looking at forthcoming 5G opportunities, revealed that 71% of respondents think 5G will boost ARPU. What’s more, nearly a third think it will be boosted by more than a margin of 10%.

5G positivity is further reflected by the 5G landscape in early adopter markets like South Korea. Just 50 days after its commercial launch in April this year, South Korea announced it already had 600,000 5G subscribers. It now has more than one million registered users. With monthly tariffs starting around the US$40-$50 per month mark, Korean consumers are paying premium prices for what they perceive to be a premium service. In most cases, this is double the current average Korean tariff for 4G and is seeing early 5G users consume more than three times the data. SK Telecom, for one, is trying to push this by creating ‘around 8,000 different content offers spanning UHD video, AR and VR’ to its customers, pushing a strong customer experience improvement message.

This vast number of available offers from SK Telecom for potential new 5G services illustrates how many other operators are likely to monetise 5G. South Korea has always led the world when it comes to mobile technology innovation. They have strong operator momentum behind 5G, with the larger players all launching 5G services concurrently. They also have 5G devices thanks to Samsung and LG, and endless potential content partnerships with global third parties. With so much industry support, and endless possibilities in terms of technology capability, there’s little surprise they can generate so many different offers and create so much choice.

This is precisely where 5G excitement is being generated. The more available offers and services, the more chance at least some of them will take off and enable operators to recoup 5G investments. The same level of choice simply wasn’t available with the advent of 3G and 4G because their limited technical capabilities throttled it. With 5G, operators, OEMs, content providers and ecosystem partners can all hedge their bets more effectively. Furthermore, the operator 5G opportunity goes beyond direct to consumer propositions and spans the enterprise and wider vertical markets, especially with the rise of industrial and enterprise IoT services.

But enabling a wide variety of 5G service choice, across so many sectors and opportunities also has its challenges. If operators are to capitalise on 5G, they need to be fast, agile, flexible and extremely opportunistic. Unfortunately, these are not terms commonly used to describe the BSS solutions most operators are hoping to use to monetise 5G services. I heard one operator recently bemoan the fact it currently takes a month to create a single offer, and get it configured and set up through its existing billing and charging system. By that reckoning, it will take the same operator more than 600 years to emulate SK Telecom’s 8,000 5G offers. Not quite the time-to-market advantage they’ll be hoping for, especially given the anticipated short shelf lives of some proposed 5G services.

Fundamentally, operators need to have the flexibility and the confidence to set up and launch their own 5G offers and have the speed to react to changing market sentiments and conditions. They need to simplify and automate the ‘plumbing’ and reduce the need for additional technical intervention. This is how operators will best plan for the unexpected and maintain strong commitment to offering broad 5G service choice and sustain the excitement that surrounds its potential.

 

Niall_NortonNiall Norton has been Chief Executive Officer of Openet Telecom Limited since September 2006. He served as Chief Financial Officer of Openet Telecom Limited since joining in February 2004. He served as the Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary of O2 (Ireland) where he was responsible for O2’s financial control functions, business process re-design, strategy planning and wholesale. He also took the lead management role for the Ireland element of the BT Wireless demerger and O2 IPO process. He has been a Director of Openet Telecom Limited since August 2006. Mr. Norton holds a degree in Commerce from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Cautious But Optimistic: Telecoms Industry’s Attitude Towards 5G

In responding to a recent Telecoms.com survey, over 400 industry professionals have expressed cautious optimism about 5G. They are eager to see the potential of 5G be fully realised, both in the consumer market and the industry market. Meanwhile, they also appreciate the challenges lying ahead in both business operation and technology.

This report summarises the key findings from the survey, analyses the implications of them, and highlights a number of questions for the stakeholders of the industry to consider.

Please fill in the short form below to receive a copy of this survey report.