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How telco mediation platforms can overcome future market challenges

The last decade has brought a revolution to telecommunications markets. Basic offline charged voice and text services were initially realized via fairly uniform technologies. The use of data transmission and fax as well as access to WAP pages was negligibly small due to slow transfer speed and the limitations of subscribers’ devices. Rapid changes in technology standards and, thereafter, growing subscriber demand for more advanced services has seriously impacted the complexity of the IT environment.

This reality has driven the introduction of subsequent layers of OSS/BSS components responsible for new technical and business functions and has created an “applications mosaic”.  A need to support the tens of key systems and even more additional applications has arisen. These systems have generally been delivered by the variety of suppliers using different, often proprietary technologies.

Telco dedicated mediation platform products are well positioned to overcome the challenges coming from the need to implement new/more complex service business logics and from the unpredictable character of future changes in the infrastructure; some use cases are presented in our whitepaper entitled “System Integration in Telecommunications via a Strategic Mediation Platform”.

BSS Offloading – Decreasing raw data volume

BSS offloading is the reduction of raw data volumes via effective pre-processing and aggregation, performed to alleviate stress on downstream billing (or other) systems. By reducing the load (by as much, in some cases, as 80% or more, so that only the necessary records reach the billing system), the shelf life of the system (into which considerable investment has likely been made) can be considerably extended.

For example, let’s consider an operator experiencing rapid data volume expansion, (+100% growth in data CDR volume in one year) with a higher-than–expected rate of growth. The operator may use an incumbent mediation system, but, as volumes increase, this will prove unable to continue processing records reliably and with consistent performance. An increase in data CDR volume could also generate a need for additional hardware investment.

Operators can deploy a highly-flexible workflow engine that enables filtering, merging, and aggregation, using a suitable open mediation platform that interfaces with SGSN and GGSN from the Network and place it “in front” of the service provider’s legacy mediation. This would reduce the number of CDRs passed downstream for processing. Time-based and session-based aggregation could both be used for this purpose.

This optimization, which expands towards the data warehouse, revenue assurance and disclosures streams (with time based aggregation rules for WAP and domestic usage), could lead to a significant decrease in data volume sent downstream, eliminating the risks of significant losses and assuring future data revenues.

BSS Consolidation – Handling call detailed records from multiple billing systems

Service providers today invariably manage siloed data centers with different IT products or systems that perform the same function (such as billing), for different services or lines of business. Ultimately, the approach of adding endless new bandages is not viable, while the challenge for operators is making a sense out of this spaghetti architecture.

Simply put, BSS consolidation is the answer.

As an example, let’s consider an operator that has multiple billing systems implemented, all receiving undifferentiated information about customer usage, regardless of whether this information is relevant or not to the particular system in question.

The path between data and the applications that need it is complicated. There are applications that take data in for one purpose and are then responsible for formatting and sending it to different applications that use it for other purposes. Any changes in such a system would be complicated, if possible at all. The carrier’s IT department would need to find a permanent long-term technology partnership and solution that can scale by orders of magnitude while keeping a low TCO to address the problem.

In addition to capacity and immediate performance concerns, the operator would also require a more flexible IT infrastructure as new services emerge and data plans move from unmetered to metered usage.

Lastly, with the increased threat of government regulation related to “sticker shock”, the operator would need a comprehensive solution to address usage management and customer alerting challenges, as well as billing mediation.

To address these challenges, the operator could choose a “Usage Broker” approach implemented in front of its multiple billing systems to process data offline, involving usage records for tens of  millions of subscribers associated with 4G Data, 3G IP, 3G messaging, and 3G Voice. Using a mediation platform that allows horizontal and vertical scaling capabilities, the operator can embrace its increasing data usage, where the volume of records associated with new services, such as Machine-to-Machine communication, would have been overwhelming without it.

All usage would flow into the mediation platform that performs validation, filtering, reformatting and distribution to only the necessary downstream systems. The platform would simplify both data paths and application expansions. If the customer downstream system (billing, fraud, revenue assurance, etc.) would need additional data, this could be delivered by simply updating a specific feed. This approach drastically simplifies development, reducing both GA and time-to-delivery.

BSS Transformation – Open heart surgery while two mobile operators merge

Service provider business models are changing almost overnight as the basic service paradigm tries to keep up with ever-evolving customer demands and expectations. These new and radically different services are only as viable, let alone as profitable, as the underlying BSS can support. The requirement today is therefore not just for service transformation but in parallel, BSS transformation too.

Let’s say two operators merge to create a single entity and move into the next generation of mobile services, upgrading their entire BSS infrastructure as a result. This situation would require a suitable mediation system as a gateway that enables this transformation.

This would involve both organizational and processes integration as well as services, product and IT teams. The goal would be to transform the company’s level of business execution to meet global standards, by introducing pre-proven global packages from other top-tier operators, so the company would be able to shorten time-to-market and evolve its convergent products to meet customer’s expectations.

To solve this, the operator would clearly need a powerful mediation system as a pass-through to the old environment without causing disruption to the live streams, into a single mediation platform.

As part of the BSS transformation project, the mediation platform would allow the operator to focus on the rest of the challenges coming from merging two companies.

Download the whitepaper “System Integration in Telecommunications via a Strategic Mediation Platform”, written in collaboration with our strategic partner DigitalRoute to take a closer look at such an approach and our experience and conclusions from real life projects.