Interesting results emerge from a recent survey released by Telecoms.com Intelligence and commissioned by Redknee Solutions, which focuses on Business Support System (BSS) requirements for 4G/LTE networks. The survey, in which Telecoms.com Intelligence sought the opinions of executives from more than 60 operators, found that the lack of real-time BSS capabilities posed the single most important limitation for 56 percent of respondents as they look to launch new LTE services.
In the report ‘Operator Perspectives on 4G BSS Requirements,’ respondents from across the globe agreed that the absence of real-time BSS functionality when launching 4G services is a major challenge that hinders their ability to enable the flexibility and responsiveness they need to support their long-term goals. In addition to the absence of real-time capabilities, respondents listed time to market for launching new services, limited pricing strategies, and a lack of integration across the BSS environment as other serious challenges they face when considering LTE.
Mike Hibberd, Editor of Telecoms.com, commented: “Operators need to improve their flexibility, agility and time to market for new services if they are to compete effectively against internet players. This survey showed that BSS portfolios marked by a lack of integration and a clutter of legacy systems represent a serious obstacle to operators’ aims in this regard, either delaying the necessary improvements or blocking them altogether.”
Redknee CEO, Lucas Skoczkowski, added: “The results of this survey come at an important crossroad for operators as the roll out of LTE networks continues to accelerate. The underlying conclusion shows that operators have recognized that they are ill-equipped to fulfil their LTE/4G monetization strategies. While real-time solutions have been around for a while, operators are still hamstrung by their legacy prepaid voice billing systems, which can’t manage data, or by their postpaid systems, which have limited real-time capabilities. In addition, the conversation of how operators achieve convergence becomes more imperative for 4G as operators recognize that their complex operations are now creating a significant roadblock to monetizing 4G.”
Redknee is one of a number of suppliers that acknowledge an ‘all-or-nothing’ full BSS transformation is not always necessary in order to overcome these challenges. In contrast, following a strategic ‘best according to need’ approach helps to better meet the needs for the individual operator. General consensus is that this requires open, flexible systems that solve end-to-end problems in defined spaces while at the same time fit well with other marketplace solutions.
Not surprisingly, in view of its current product offerings, Redknee further believes that advancement of cloud-based solutions allows operator IT shops to leverage hosted environments to handle spare capacity and to migrate priority systems to an external environment while managing core systems concretely.
There seem to be two emerging, and quite different camps with regard to BSS transformation. The bigger, ‘fully-stacked’ vendors are pushing the total replacement ‘one stop shop’ arguments, whereas the smaller specialist ‘best of breed’ suppliers are arguing then merits of integration.
Both have their merits and their place, but one wonders just how many CSPs can afford the time, disruption and cost of the ‘big bang’ or who is willing to put faith into a smaller integration project involving one or more disparate products.
Who would want to be a CIO/CTO facing this dilemma in the current market of cautious investment and stakeholder resentment to project overruns and cost minimization?