IP: the coveted VIP for next-generation networks! As voice and data convergence grows stronger and also as mobile broadband expands more pervasive, SIP continues ushering a new renaissance over IP telecommunications. rapid shift to wireless; boom in mobility and broadband demand; extremely intense competition and shrinking market share and declining revenues with new players entering the market; Voice quickly getting replaced by richer content and applications; low-end VAS such as SMS, Caller Tunes and Ring Tones quickly giving way to new breed of high-end VAS like P2P, online / network gaming, Video streaming / downloading, IPTV etc. Subscription to these is intensifying as devices market also mature and a gamut of handheld devices become widely available with something for every pocket. Thus, potential for better / improved ARPU seems to be rising. However, in this new dynamic service environment, QoS emerges as a cornerstone of quality delivery, subscribers experience enrichment and revenue maximization. As the world of telecommunications continues communicating increasingly over various IP based media, for many CSPs, legacy intelligent networks such as PSTN and IN are fated for the end of their life. Obviously, it also spells the end of road for legacy OSS and BSS, for they are not capable to provide the capabilities required by today’s IP based real-time data applications, stringent packet handling and large volume of network data flow. The situation is seriously aggravated as many platforms do not find support from the vendors who actually made them. More realistically, it is the cost of maintaining these legacy networks, which forms the crux of the matter, especially when most telecom players are vying to improve revenue margins and remain cutthroat by optimizing their operating outflow.
The futuristic bout – Legacy Vs Next-gen Network
|Match Rounds||Legacy Network||Next Generation Network|
|Architecture||Layered but with vertical silos supported by different stovepipes||Modular, component- based platform architecture|
|Disposition||Network Centric||Customer / Services Centric|
|Target Audience||Ordinary Consumers||Web 2.0 Prosumers ! (Content Producers + Digital Consumers)|
|Configuration of services||Rooted in SS7 signaling protocol or IN databases||Located in software contained in Softswitch or applications database|
|Provisioning of services||Only semi-automated & cumbersome too||Automated service provisioning and fault management; software-driven; provisioned through discerning GUIs; simplified and highly integrated processes; over-the-air provisioning (OTA)|
|Average Cost(installation and new service development)||Running into millions of $; prolonged deployment cycles for new services||Far cost-effective; new services can be accommodated with utmost simplicity|
|Billing of Services||Based on manageable Call usage data having only one service quality; one traffic type; fixed pricing models; batch (cyclic) billing||Considerable CDRs; variable service quality; variable traffic types (based on apps); varied pricing models (usage based); convergent and real-time billing|
|Time-to-market opportunity for new services||Considerably long; perhaps running into several months due to the absence of standardization||Very responsive; extremely less time-to-market; enhanced scope for innovative service offerings and brand differentiation|
|Capability to launch a range of next-gen services||Clueless||Dozens of IP / IMS based fast and rich services • Audio / video conferencing • Mobile internet • VPNs • VoIP • Fax over IP • E-mail / IMs • Video streaming • Gaming • IPTV etc.|
Rejigging for the all-IP terrain While IP brought a whole new world of revenue opportunities, it came with its own set of challenges in terms of changes needed in business process frameworks, process automation & integration and planning of a service delivery platform. A series of systematic initiatives commenced by global standards body like TM Forum since the turn of the new millennium completely changed the OSS / BSS landscape. Using TAM (application framework) eTOM (business process framework) and SID (information framework), an unprecedented perspective for delivering and managing next-generation IP driven services got created. By envisaging a close-knit arrangement of the following, a real-time next-generation OSS / BSS platform ready to accelerate convergence and rich services came into being. Conclusion Both sustainability and business success hinges on having a well integrated OSS / BSS environment to thrive in this brand new IP era. Having the right partner that can help in bridging the traditional gaps between traditional OSS / BSS by creating a scalable and flexible IP-focused platform is indispensable for CSPs and holds the key to long-term success.