Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blueprint: Better Service Control for Telco Agility

By Thomas Vasen, VP Product Marketing and Marketing, DigitalRoute

In a globally deregulated telecoms industry where intense competition is rife, differentiated products and services mean commercial success. To deliver these, lean and agile systems are required.

In this regard, though, the current situation looks grim. Many telcos are fixed on addressing issues that mitigate minor risks rather than trying to exploit growing opportunities. This makes little sense. The case of PCRF is a good example.

Applied as they are today, PCRF (policy and charging rules function) applications enforce policies that invariably constrict service usage rather than looking for new ways to expand the relationship with the customer. It’s ironic, because they should be able to easily do the latter. The “other half” of the Policy application set, service control, addresses what might be called the “positive side of the equation.”

Service control, is, like Policy Control, built on the mediation platform. But where it differs is that it is designed to quickly and easily enable new services that advanced networks are increasingly being deployed to support.  The cornerstone of service control’s value is thus the enablement of service agility and this is built in from first principles.

It makes sense that this happens in mediation, traditionally, all about adapting to the landscape and making data fit with all the requirements and purposes around itself.  Doing this quickly, with a very high degree of self-control and flexibility, is where the agility comes from.

Service control supplements PCRF. It adds a new dimension to what the Mediation/Policy box can provide. Furthermore, since service control offloads certain functions in the traditional Business Support System (BSS) infrastructure, such as billing, incremental new services can be introduced with very different cost-per-transaction profiles. This means the legacy BSS cost stack need no longer represent a barrier to progress for operators wary of the limitations of their existing infrastructure. This is a common and very real concern.

Service control’s three fundamental deliverable characteristics underline what it delivers:

  • To decrease time-to-market and total-cost-of ownership in architectures where legacy is a barrier to service innovation
  • To provide a cost effective platform that increases service possibility through legacy BSS offload
  • To increase the ability to exploit the profit opportunity contained in Over-The-Top (OTT) services.

Consider service control in action. In highly competitive markets, versatility is key to opening up new revenue streams that often present themselves only briefly such as when regulatory statutes change in unpredictable ways and a brief window of opportunity arises as a result.

In this case, service control can provide Subscriber Usage control, Network Experience monitoring and the ability to improve subscriber interaction and engagement. Service control’s real-time enablement layer, with only small changes to its core infrastructure, can support incremental new service launches quickly.

Where profits are declining and customer spend is stagnant or traditionally dominant services (like voice) have been commoditized, service control can help access and exploit new revenue streams. Its network-based control infrastructure enables differentiation on the basis of either the service or the subscriber and partners. Other key players in service delivery are easily accommodated into the back-end, enabling critical revenue shares to be quickly implemented.

Service control increases Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA) while not reducing the bundled content delivered to end-users. An example is using service control to support an innovative sponsored data offering. This is a use case legacy BSS struggles to accommodate.

Opening Doors to Sponsored Data

Sponsored data requires splitting data bits into different buckets, where one stream goes to the consumer’s individual bucket and the other to a common one, sponsored by a content provider. It works like a 0800 number or an e-commerce site where a second party pays for postage on the goods purchased.

Having many people consuming the same sponsored bucket is a particularly tricky challenge and requires fast, capable and lean systems in place. Partner enablement, roaming buckets, and Freemium service offerings are also addressed by service control.

For operators, realizing these things can be handled in existing mediation and policy platforms is appealing. Service control’s easy configuration enables sponsored data simply by adding a newly configured use case into a platform that is already installed in the data center. The operator’s end-customers are attracted by a service in which sponsored content is not counted in their data bundles and the operator itself gains a new revenue stream by being able to directly charge the OTT provider for delivery of the sponsored service. This increases ARPA for a percentage of its traffic while not reducing the bundles that it sells to end-users.

The solution is capable of metering all subscriber and partner information and its open nature enables easy integration with any existing downstream applications. Its easily configurable business logic supports innovation and responsiveness to the demands of the market.

By handling these requirements, service control addresses the three key questions that CSPs have to answer in order to succeed commercially:

  • Can I offset the exponentially increased cost of many new services by deploying attractive, low-margin services quickly as an upsell opportunity? 
  • Can I address the requirement for service transparency and tiered offerings via a solution that enables both subscriber and service control from the same platform?
  • Can I deliver incremental services quickly and reactively enough that I can lead the market?

Service control takes the policy box into a new dimension, and offers telco service providers a big step towards next generation commercial success.

About the Author

Thomas Vasen, has over 15 year’s operational experience with product and service development in the telecoms industry. Before his present position with DigitalRoute, he was responsible for solution development at Service Assurance pioneer Polystar OSIX and before that he was an entrepreneur in a series of Voice over IP projects at operators in Europe. At B2 Bredband AB, the largest FTTH broadband operator in Sweden, he was responsible for the setup and operations of the 1st primary line local-loop replacement service launched on the SIP technology in the world. Thomas has studied at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and at the London School of Economics.

About DigitalRoute

DigitalRoute has been providing new approaches to enterprise data management since 1999. Its software platform offers high throughput and provides a unique degree of user configurability, processing all usage and statistical data extracted from the networks, including both billable and non-billable events. Over 300 leading companies worldwide actively use DigitalRoute technology to meet their data management needs, including a number of OEM partners who use our platform as a central part of their own offerings. DigitalRoute is built on the core values of Expertise, Open- Mindedness and Commitment. DigitalRoute is a venture-backed, privately held company with a turnover of 30m EUR in 2013 and a record of profitability since 2005. With close to 200 employees, the company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with regional offices in Gothenburg, Atlanta, and Kuala Lumpur. http://www.digitalroute.com/

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