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no 2/2010 [12] The Magazine of Comarch Telecommunications Business Unit

www.comarch.com

In this issue: Customer Spotlight

Bouygues Telecom Achieves the Right Balance Thanks to Comarch BSS Suite

OSS/BSS Features

M2M Market Trends: Overview Of The M2M Value Chain

How Exactly Will You Benefit From Automating Field Services In Your Company

Technology & Innovation

Comarch Tests at the IBM Innovation Center


Personalize your customer experience Transform seamlessly to new business models Ensure the highest quality of delivered services Take full control of your network

Meet with Comarch experts face to face at the Mobile World Congress 2011 14 – 17 February at Fira de Barcelona, in Barcelona, Spain – 1F20, Hall 1


Preface

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What will surprise us in the near future? ne of the world’s most renowned inventors, Sir Faraday, was asked by the Minister of the Treasury who was visiting Faraday’s lab „What benefits would people have from these experiments with electricity?” „I don’t know,” he said, “but I’m sure your government will be collecting taxes from these results in the future”. The same answer can probably be given to us today by this year’s Nobel Prize laureate in Physics. Many interesting and revolutionary technologies are waiting for business opportunity to make them profitable and begin entirely new revenue streams. Market innovation combines technology with business modeling and extensive work from engineers and marketing specialists.

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Gartner’s report, Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2010, published in October, points out that almost all the analyzed IT technologies are related to user experience, new interfaces or user interaction methods. The Web phenomenon has been moving from PC’s to other devices such as smart phones, TV’s, flat panels in automobiles, public transport and retail. New interaction styles based on accelerometers and location services, which made no sense for PC’s, are boosting the sales of intelligent terminals. User experience as well as new interaction styles, such as gesture recognition and tangible user interfaces, simplify communication between the application and the user and make our handsets more intelligent and more personal.

Location based services, previously forecasted as a trigger for location based ads, has become very popular because of applications from iPhone Android using our position to define a context for smart applications. Users are becoming more accustomed to positioning information required by applications and will be more open for mobile ads in the future. Cloud computing is growing in the context of the expansion of mobile application shops which has to find storage and resources to support relatively small and smart applications on smart phones with which the user is still moving from place to place with. Web cloud computing, location services and multi-screen interfaces in the connected world are good examples of the adoption of new business and revenue models, rather than simply the adoption of the newest technology.

Comarch SA

Vice President, Product Management & Marketing Telecommunications Business Unit

From the perspective of communication service providers, one of the most important challenges in the Connected World is how to ready infrastructure and business processes for new interaction methods, new business models like revenue and infrastructure sharing, direct and indirect sales models, quality driven by customer experience and multi-technology service fulfillment and assurance. This edition of Technology Review demonstrates how Comarch analysts, solution managers and developers approach the Connected World trend. Enjoy reading.

Comarch Technology Review is a publication created by Comarch experts and specialists. It is created to assist our customers and partners in obtaining in-depth information about market trends and developments, and the technological possibilities of addressing the most important issues. Editor-in-Chief: Katarzyna Gajewska katarzyna.gajewska@comarch.com Layout & DTP: Jakub Malicki Photos: www.fotolia.com Proofreader: Martin Jones Publisher: Comarch SA Al. Jana Pawła II 39a, 31-864 Kraków Tel. +48 12 64 61 000, Fax: +48 12 64 61 100 www.comarch.com Print: Skleniarz Printing House ul. J. Lea 118, 31-033 Kraków Circulation: 1 500

piotr machnik

Technology Review is a free publication available by subscription. The articles published here can be copied and reproduced only with the knowledge and consent of the editors. The names of products and companies mentioned are trade marks and trade names of their producers. To receive your subscription to the electronic version or see the previous issues, please visit: tr.comarch.com

Comarch’s offices in Poland: Krakow (HQ), Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, Katowice, Lodz, Lublin Worldwide Offices: Americas Panama | Panamá United States of America | Chicago Europe Austria | Wien Belgium | Brussels Finland | Espoo France | Lille, Grenoble Lithuania | Vilnius Germany | Dresden, Frankfurt/Main, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Muenster, Duesseldorf, Bremen Russia | Moscow Slovakia | Bratislava Ukraine | Kyiv, Lviv Middle East United Arab Emirates | Dubai Asia China | Shanghai Vietnam | Ho Chi Minh City


4

table of contents

news

5

What’s New

16 Business Cases For Policy Management

Some years ago, policy management did not

proprietary IPTV offer, named Vodafone TV, at IFA.

is becoming an essential tool for operators in

Based on a hybrid approach, satellite and cable

Case Study: Bouygues Telecom Achieves the Right Balance between Flexibility and Maintainability Thanks to Comarch BSS Suite

managing network traffic, based on policies

signals are processed via a platform developed

and improving service offerings simultaneously.

by Vodafone Germany. Following Telekom and

Operators can adjust their service offerings using

Alice, Vodafone will now be the third provider of IP

various parameters, such as service type, time of

television in Germany.

Bouygues Telecom required a platform to support

day, customer location and data volumes.

6

the company’s business development strategy of supplying additional mobile services to end users through SMS, Voice, MMS, WAP and I-Mode™, in

19

M2M Market Trends Overview Of The M2M Value Chain

34 Why Use Plain Old Inventory Management If You No Longer Sell Plain Old Telephone Services?

collaboration with a growing number of content

The Machine-to-Machine (M2M) business,

If we look to the future of Communications Service

and service providers. This approach demanded a

related to the communication between machines

Providers, we will see LTE technologies emerging

sophisticated billing system capable of handling

and other traditionally non-computing remote

with constantly increasing power. Among others, the

the complex accounting processes between the

devices or sensors, is attaining a global presence.

new technologies were designed to make networks

French mobile operator and its partners.

According to The European Telecommunications

more flexible, adaptable and cheaper to deploy. The

Standards Institute (ETSI), the M2M market has

time required for enabling new services shrinks from

the potential to connect up to 50 billion machines

weeks to days, and maybe even hours.

Case Study: How Cablevisión de Saltillo Entered a New Market while Minimizing Costs Comarch offered a pre-integrated billing, customer care and network management solution that

today, and even more in the near future.

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From Circuit To Soft (Packet)-Switching Not so long ago, as the traditional Public Switched

supported all of Cablevisión’s business lines,

Telephone Network (PSTN) evolved from analog to

including telephony. Additionally, the solution

digital (thanks to digital Time-Division Multiplexing

included a prepaid module that allowed

technology), we entered the era of NGN networks,

Cablevisión to offer prepaid services and an

based on Internet protocols such as IP (Internet

interpartner billing module to efficiently handle the

Protocol) and MPLSs (Multi-protocol Label

company’s agreements with other carriers.

Switching). Therefore, next generation networks are often named “all-IP” networks, to emphasize

OSS/BSS Features

10

How Cablecos Can Get Ahead Of Their Competition The Critical Role Of Next Generation BSS/OSS In Cable Providers’ Business

the transformation towards IP protocol.

26

Knowledge Transfer Or Change Announcement?

Telcosphere blog

38 Unlimited Data Plans – Disappearing Into Extinction

39 Murphy’s Law In 21st Century Telecommunications

40Why Doing Your Laundry Can Be A Lot Like Talking On The Phone

Technology & Innovation

42 Performance In Action

Customers require a better quality of software. They also need improved performance of

Every company requires an ongoing

business processes. High availability is a standard

On today’s cable market, there is an ongoing

communications and training program. They should

requirement. It calls for more and more testing.

race among operators towards the valued goal

be designed to ensure that all employees, full time

How do you perform increased testing in a more

of becoming an MSsO (Multi-Sservice Operator).

and temporary, as well as contractors understand

diversified test environment?

Although TV services still remain the main and

the enterprise’s policies, processes and software

most stable revenue stream, significant income

and know how to follow and use them properly.

growth originates from high-speed Internet and telephony services, and the importance of these will continue to increase.

13

By the end of 2010, Vodafone will present its

constitute a hot topic. Today, policy management

Customer Spotlight

8

30 Bright Future For IPTV – Are You Ready?

How Exactly Will You Benefit From Automating Field Services In Your Company

44 Improving The Scalability Of Modern WebBased Software System

28

Boosting Service Innovation Getting Through The Jungle Of Buzzwords: SDP, Service Broker, Orchestration, SOA, Service Composition…

Nowadays, the scalability of software systems, considered as their ability to handle growing amounts of work, is of great importance. Modern, web-based applications should often handle

Communication Service Providers (CSP) strive

thousands of requests per second, and it’s

Field Service Management tools are solutions that

to boost service innovation to augment basic

impossible to achieve this throughput without

are primarily deployed by companies in order to

connectivity services. They are aware that they

rapidly-operating hardware and well-designed

achieve certain business improvement goals. The

may need new tools to realize this goal, but are

systems with the ability to be enlarged.

most popular and commonly requested client

bombarded with buzzwords, by many claiming

goals in FSM systems include decreasing costs,

they have the right solution. This article suggests

minimizing risks, and maximizing the profitability

taking the problem-centric approach, to avoid

of their services.

being drawn into the flood of new buzzwords.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Commentary

46Relation after Comarch BSS/CRM/OSS Workshops in Stockholm


NEWS

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What’s New Recent Contracts:

Latest Award:

15 | 09 | 10

01 | 07 | 10

KPN optimizes multinational corporate customer management with a Comarch solution Comarch delivers a comprehensive set of BSS modules to help KPN lower operational costs, improve customer satisfaction and launch new services faster.

Comarch NGNP receives 2010 Next Generation Network Leadership Award Comarch Next Generation Network Planning was awarded by NGN Magazine in the category of Network Technology, in recognition of its outstanding innovation.

18 | 08 | 10

Recent Product Launches: The E-Plus Group selects Comarch as a strategic partner for Next Generation Network Planning Comarch provides a solution supporting planning and configuration of Radio Access, Transport and Core Networks. This innovative platform, delivered in the Managed Service model, improves the efficiency of network planning and, in particular, supports the accelerated roll-out of the high-speed E-Plus data network. 14 | 07 | 10 Comarch implements an innovative class 5 service platform at Telefonia DIALOG, Poland Comarch has signed a comprehensive contract with Telefonia DIALOG, one of the biggest independent telecom service providers in Poland for the provisioning, installation and implementation of a service platform based on class 5 Soft Switches.

05 | 08 | 10 Comarch introduces a new product to its offer for telecom operators – Comarch Bill Shock Prevention The growing usage of data services among mobile subscribers has led to the surfacing of a brand new problem that operators worldwide have to face – the so called ‘bill shock’. Comarch’s response is an addition to the broad scope of its offer for telecom operators – the Comarch Bill Shock Prevention solution. 29 | 07 | 10 Comarch launches new end-to-end solution for Cloud Service Management and Billing As Cloud Computing and Cloud Services increase in popularity on the telecommunications market, Comarch responds with a comprehensive solution for managing and billing cloud services.

Comarch is Building its own Data Center Abroad: 17 | 05 | 10 In 2010, Comarch plans to open a Data Center in Lille, France, with the next one planned for Germany

Currently, Comarch has two modern Comarch Data Centers in both Cracow and Warsaw, with an additional facility in Cracow currently under construction.

For more information, go to: www.press.comarch.com

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


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Customer Spotlight

Bouygues Telecom achieves the right balance between flexibility and maintainability thanks to Comarch BSS Suite he advent of newly developed accounting models and the introduction of an extensive number of novel mobile services prompted Bouygues Telecom, in 2004, to replace its partner billing tool with a systematic and rule-based system capable of managing the consequent growth of increasingly complex revenue-sharing agreements with content providers.

T

“We were looking for a billing system that was able to keep up with the frantic pace at which we were expanding, while ensuring increased revenues for content providers and Bouygues Telecom” stated Emmanuel Micol, Access and Interconnect Director, Bouygues Telecom.

Acquiring separate modules from different vendors would have been an extremely complicated process, involving signing and maintaining a number of contracts. Additionally, the integration of these modules could have been extremely difficult, adding to ongoing implementation risks.

The Approach The Business Need Bouygues Telecom required a platform to support the company’s business development strategy of supplying additional mobile services to end users through SMS, Voice, MMS, WAP and I-Mode™, in collaboration with a growing number of content and service providers. This approach demanded a sophisticated billing system capable of handling the complex accounting processes between the French mobile operator and its partners.

The Approach

Comarch offered a pre-integrated billing, customer care and network management solution that supported all of Bouygues business lines, including telephony. Bouygues Telecom, with over 10 million subscribers (March 2010), manages numerous products such as voice, SMS, MMS, data, internet, etc. and has to manage content and service provider billing for various products and services (premium SMS, WAP, vote+ etc.).The solution is interfaced with their own central Partner DB, backup and many other interfaces within their information system.

Why Comarch?

Comarch provided Bouygues Telecom with a convergent and agnostic billing and rating solution for postpaid and prepaid services, including discounting and threshold charging.

In addition to Gartner assessments of the performance of Comarch BSS, Bouygues Telecom conducted a detailed

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


Customer Spotlight

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Products & Prices Management

Partner Management

Usage Data Adapters

Revenue Sharing

Customer Bouygues Telecom

Revenue Sharing Payment & Charging Gateway

Partner Self Care

Industry Communications

Invoicing

Service Usage Data

Invoices

Payment & Charging Requests

Partner’s administrator

Telco Partners Premium services, VAS

Content partners

Content -based services

  Figure 1.

study of various solutions on the market supported by a POC (Proof of Concept). The billing and partner relationship modules stood out due to their ability to elaborate and handle reconciliation and mass processing, as well as their capability to manage the complex partnership between Bouygues Telecom and its partners responsible for content and service provision. “We chose Comarch InterPartner Billing over several other rating engines as it enabled us to achieve the right balance between flexibility and maintainability. This allows Comarch to provide superior service and content delivery to mobile customers, as well as revenue sharing in a highly dynamic market where innovations arising every few months is paramount”, explained Emmanuel Micol, Access and Interconnect Director, Bouygues Telecom.

The Result Comarch deployed a specially designed IT solution for gathering information related to customer service usage and computing the complicated revenue-sharing rules that arise between Bouygues Telecom and its partners. The system generates all the necessary financial documentation and statistical reports, which are then loaded into a dedicated data-mart and transferred to SAP financial applications for further processing.

The industrialization and integration aspect of this project plays a prominent role. As an example, Bouygues Telecom’s CRM is interfaced with Comarch Partner Care for automatic provisioning of subscriptions. In addition, the system has been adapted to all maintenance and usability constraints imposed on any application in production at Bouygues Telecom. In particular, the InterPartner Billing system can be monitored using remote central monitoring, and billing-specific processes can be initiated from Bouygues Telecom’s central scheduling system. This enables streamlining operating tasks, optimizing costs and efficiency, as well as increasing the reliability of the solution. “Our solution for partnership management offers far more than simply sharing money among companies. We created a business solution based on a thorough understanding of the nature of relationship building. We are confident that our system will enable our client to concentrate exclusively on their core business activities and strengthen their competitive advantage”, explained Tymoteusz Wrona, Head of BSS Solution Management. “The system has been up and running for several years, and it allows us to respond effectively and rapidly to emerging market demands”, stated Emmanuel Micol, Access and Interconnect Director, Bouygues Telecom.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Founded in 1994, Bouygues Telecom has 10,352,000 mobile subscribers, 311,000 fixed customers and employs 9000 members of staff. The company aims to “become the preferred brand of mobile and fixed communication services as well as of TV and Internet provision”, and looks to provide users with more freedom when using their mobile phones - with an emphasis on hospitality, service and support for its customers.

Comarch product:   InterPartner Billing


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Customer Spotlight

How Cablevisión de Saltillo entered a new market while minimizing costs ablevisión de Saltillo, a cable TV operator in Coahuila, Mexico, had ambitious expansion plans that included entering the telephony market and the acquisition of several smaller operators. Changes in anti-monopoly laws allowed the company to execute its plans, but heavy investments were necessary to guarantee proper scalability and support telephony. Comarch helped Cablevisión de Saltillo make the leap with a cost-effective end-to-end integrated BSS solution.

C

Customer Cablevisión de Saltillo

The Business Need In order to offer voice services, an operator needs to significantly modify its IT infrastructure to support the new technology. Cablevisión de Saltillo’s existing IT systems did not support telephony, and when analyzing BSS vendors, the company found that very few offered an end-to-end integrated platform. The target infrastructure is depicted in the following diagram:

Industry Communications Telephony

Cablevisión de Saltillo is the flagship operator of Grupo RCG. Today, Cablevisión de Saltillo is the largest MultiService Operator (MSO) in the state of Coahuila, Mexico’s third-largest. The capital of Coahuila is the city of Saltillo, where Cablevisión holds an overwhelming share of the triple-play market.

Television

Internet

Controllers

HFC Network Call Center Service Delivery Platform Help Desk Payment Management

Billing System & Customer Management

  Figure 1. Target IT infrastructure diagram

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


Customer Spotlight

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In the words of Carlos Casas, IT Director at Cablevisión de Saltillo, “Comarch is a true partner that helped us modernize our IT infrastructure and continues to support us in our day-to-day activities. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Comarch for years to come”.

Acquiring separate modules from different vendors would have been an extremely complicated process, involving signing and maintaining a number of contracts. Additionally, the integration of these modules could be very difficult, adding to ongoing implementation risks.

a new market, while minimizing costs. Key features of the pre-integrated solution include: Comprehensive solution supporting all services in a convergent manner

Comarch products & Services: Comarch

Multi-language system and documentation (Spanish supported)

The Approach

Convergent Billing Comarch

Comarch offered a pre-integrated billing, customer care and network management solution that supported all of Cablevisión’s business lines, including telephony.

Pay-as-you-grow model supporting the following outof-the-box: Up to 100,000 post-paid subscribers Up to 20,000 pre-paid subscribers Unlimited system users Unlimited telephone traffic

Additionally, the solution included a prepaid module that allowed Cablevisión to offer prepaid services and an interpartner billing module to efficiently handle the company’s agreements with other carriers. Figure 2 describes the final IT infrastructure.

Highly scalable system able to support many additional subscribers by gradually improving hardware capacity, as compared to other systems that require exponential investments in hardware

The Result

Customer Management Comarch

Workforce Management Comarch

Business Process Management Comarch Self Care

Standards-based solution that facilitates the future implementation and integration of additional modules and 3rd party systems

With the help of Comarch, Cablevisión de Saltillo completed a breakthrough project that allowed the operator to enter

Comarch Service

Activation Comarch Billing

Mediation Internet

Cable Modem EMTA

Comarch 3arts

Set Top Box Telephony

WI-FI

Comarch

TV

InterPartner Billing

HFC NETWORK (DOCSIS – PACKET CABLE – SET TOP BOX PROVISIONING)

Comarch Analyzer

Multiplexers Firewall

ACC Controller

Motorola DAC 6000

Cedar Point C3 Safari Softswitch

Decoders

TV Content

CMTS

Internal Network

Intraway Service Delivery Platform

Comarch Self Care Comarch Billing System Data base

Comarch Data Processing Server

Comarch 3Arts

Comarch Mediation

Comarch Customer Management

  Figure 2. Detailed infrastructure diagram after Comarch implementation

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Internet and Telephony

Comarch Fraud

Detection


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OSS/BSS Features

How cablecos can get ahead of their competition:

The critical role of next generation BSS/OSS in Cable Providers’ business

Why do Cablecos and Telcos Compete? On today’s cable market, there is an ongoing race among operators towards the valued goal of becoming an MSO (Multi-Service Operator). Although TV services still remain the main and most stable revenue stream, significant income growth originates from high-speed Internet and telephony services, and the importance of these will continue to increase.

Krzysztof Kwiatkowski

Comarch SA

BSS Product Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

In fact, the strongest competition cable operators’ face derives from telecommunication service providers, rather than from other cable operators. Customers can turn to a telecommunication service provider to provide a similar service, and without difficulty. This results in operators seeking to improve their offers, and it is this type of competition which can be highly beneficial for customers. Both cablecos and telcos offer multi-play services which consist of video, high-speed Internet, voice and wireless services. There are numerous differences in technologies and quality of services offered, yet telcos and cablecos are heading in a similar direction with their offers to such an

extent that the customer may not even notice the difference between them. However, differences in service delivery technologies provide tools for differentiation. Many telcos and cablecos are still transforming their networks to allow for appropriate business model transformation. Networks are transformed, business models are adjusted. Both types of providers strive to offer faster Internet, voice and wireless services. Cablecos have been upgrading their networks to DOCSIS 3.0 to make this possible. Telcos are now using fiber-optic networks to compete with cable companies through delivery of TV services. Such technologies are powerful arms on the battlefield, but what about long-range weapons?

Leading the Way to Multi-Service Transformation In order to benefit from the transformation momentum, cable operators require robust support from systems that understand the specifics of the market and which enable an increase in competitiveness, delivery of high quality services

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


OSS/BSS Features

and rises in revenue per subscriber. Furthermore, there must also be a continuous focus on the customer. BSS and OSS systems can be the key factors in an operator’s successful business model transformation or lack thereof, and constitute the long-range weapon in the battle between cablecos and telcos. These systems must be focused on increasing competitiveness, raising revenue per subscriber and should be prepared for the future expansion of the operator. To facilitate excelling at customer orientation strategy, it must allow for creating personalized offers according to the individual preferences of customers, and ensure the high quality of delivered services. To shorten the time-to-market and increase profitability, the solution should provide multi-level convergence through the entire BSS and OSS, as well as automation of field forces.

What to Look for in a Solution for Cable TV Operators Unlimited marketing creativity and customer orientation A product catalog with flexible definition of novel products, services and bundles creation, personalized price plans and discounts is the key factor for providing the differentiation tool for marketing departments. The usage of best-practices and pre-configured processes dedicated to multi-service and traditional cable TV operators, enables achieving this goal.

Market transformation Readiness for the transformation means being well-prepared for such mergers and acquisitions, as well as adapting to the different characteristics of operations in various regions. Transformation creates a set of requirements for BSS such as multi-tenancy with support for multiple billing, product, network and payment providers, and also sales partners. In the BSS sphere, it requires the consolidation of customer information resulting from multiple billing and CRM systems. Additionally, a modern multi-service operator has to cooperate with various partners and content providers, and this must be supported by the BSS platform with, at a minimum, B2B connectivity, multi-party billing and revenue sharing.

Complete control and security of financial operations Bundles, personalized offers and discounts require the complete control and security of financial operations. This is even more pertinent in the case of Multi-Service Operators in comparison to traditional operators. This area should

be fully managed by BSS, with an integrated sub-ledger interfacing with G/L, comprehensive payment collection with support for numerous payment methods, managing and clearing financial documents, and bad debt collection and configurable dunning scenarios. Furthermore, this should all be carried out whilst supporting Sarbanes-Oxley, SAS-70 and PCI compliance.

Successful business model transformation BSS and OSS solutions must also provide flexibility and stability for IT departments. These departments implement all ideas and business requirements as ready-to-sell products, integrate and manage networks and provide efficient maintenance processes. Multi-Service Operators require robust support for the creation and maintenance of a vast number of individual price plans and discounts.

Network integration and management The network integration challenge of Multi-Service Operators is connected to simultaneous multi-network integration with cross-network mediation and provisioning. It also touches on service-agnostic billing and active mediation capabilities with data format independence, high configurability and support for industry standard interfaces and file formats. There is a requirement for cable-TV-specific inventory with the usage of HFC Network Hierarchy data models and mechanisms of serviceability checking, with the possibility to maintain precise information related to equipment at remote sites and cable layouts needed to support technicians working in the field. Fault management capabilities should allow planned outages and detect service interruptions. The new element for cable TV operators can be connected with service quality management which, together with managing congestion issues via early detection of network problems and identification of the impact on services, must be handled in order to acquire heightened customer experience. Convergence requires real-time processing of network events via mediation and a billing system. This is why all modules used in the real-time processing chain must have the capabilities for upgrade without impacting service continuity.

Process management MSO complexity requires efficient business process management, integrated with the entire multi-domain IT ecosystem. Such integration and process management has to be handled by BSS and OSS domains with built-in, configurable order management, business process execution monitoring and advanced task scheduling that are open for integration.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

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Ideas in brief: Why cablecos and telcos have to compete Why do operators need to transform their business towards multiservice What to consider when looking for a perfect solution to support your cable business How does Comarch respond to the needs of Cable providers

Cable TV operators often comprise of various acquisitions and mergers, and some carry such an approach forward in combination with the multiservice strategy. Readiness for the transformation means being well-prepared for such mergers and acquisitions, as well as adapting to the different characteristics of operations in various regions.


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OSS/BSS Features

Local resellers

Point of Sale

End users

CRM

Self Service

Marketing and Sales Managers

DATA Integration

SOA Integration

Billing Managers

Product Catalog

Convergent Billing

Field Service Management

Business Process Management

Revenue Sharing

Network & Service Inventory Management

Service Quality Management

Fault Management

external systems

DMS/Archive

Interconnect Billing

MNP

Technicians

Interfaces

The characteristics of Multi-Service Operators mean they require robust support for the creation and maintenance of a vast number of individual price plans and discounts.

CSR

Payments GL DWH

Operation Managers

Billing Mediation

Active Mediation

Service Activation

Printhouse

Connectivity

HFC

Content TV / IPTV

Fixed & Mobile Telephony

DOCSIS Multi-play TV, high-speed Internet, voice, content

End users

The Comarch Solution for MultiService Operators provides: unlimited marketing creativity, customer orientation, openness to cable TV market transformation, field force automation and more…

  Figure 1. Comarch’s comprehensive solution for Multi-Service Operators

Comprehensive customer service Minimizing costs and maintaining comprehensive customer service, requires the automation of field forces. Intelligent scheduling and dispatching of technicians, automated taskresource matching based on technician availability, skills and location, and leveraging data stored in the network inventory in order to support technicians working in the field, may provide significant cost savings and increased customer satisfaction. The latter is especially important during primary contact with the operator, occurring when the first technicians visit the customer’s home.

Summary

Today, Multi-Service Operators represent a major gateway to entertainment and communication services. Creating positive relations with customers is the task of the marketing department, but improving their overall experience requires the collaboration of other departments, such as network, billing, customer service, and even field technicians. The advantage of the Comarch solution for cable TV operators is that it transforms the broad communication experience into a multi-service business and provides next generation BSS and OSS tools to enable maximum efficiency of operations and business model transformation.

The full article can be found at: http://cable.comarch.com

The multi-service approach changes the way in which customers perceive their communication service providers.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


OSS/BSS Features

13

How exactly will you benefit from automating field services in your company

ield Service Management tools are solutions that are primarily deployed by companies in order to achieve certain business improvement goals. The most popular and commonly requested client goals in FSM systems include decreasing costs, minimizing risks, and maximizing the profitability of their services.

F

In most cases the main goal of the project is achieved (FSM projects are less risky in comparison with other telecommunication projects) and the influence of these improvements in the organization of technicians’ work is visible throughout the entire company. In this article I will discuss several job functions in a telecommunications company and will demonstrate that each and every employee benefits from an investment such as the Field Service Management system.

Customer Technical Support and Network Maintenance If you are a FS Dispatcher/Scheduler As a dispatcher/scheduler in the Customer Technical Support or Network Maintenance department, your scope of duties involves numerous important activities within the order fulfillment process. If your company does not deploy any tool for improving your job, you are probably the busiest person and at the end of the day you are being blamed for all the organizational problems in your department. This is not a normal situation. Field Service Management may make your job easier and will certainly increase your effectiveness. Why? A number of FSM modules align to help you carry out your responsibilities, they include:

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Szymon Uczciwek

Comarch SA

BSS/OSS Solutions Consultant and Product Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit


14

OSS/BSS Features

Ideas in brief: What are the newest solutions in the Field Service Management domains What are the benefits of using Field Service Management tools

Network Inventory

Network
objects

Orders

Orders and Tasks

Orders

Field Work Orders

Resources

Time Management

Dispatchers

What are the actual cases of applying FSM tools in your daily activities

Automatic Dispatcher

Maps

FSM Mobile

Reporting

Management

Field Technicians

  Figure. Different users of field service management tools

Scheduling tools This FSM module gives you a 360º view of your team’s situation. If you have a new work order to fulfill, a graphical timeline tool helps you schedule it for the proper technician and allocate the required technical equipment. You will have the following information:

the SLA connected with the order No matter where you are in the company, Field Service Management solutions can positively impact on your work

Network monitoring

Appointments

FSM system

How can FSM tools have a direct impact on you and your position in a telecommunication company

How can FSM tools improve communication between departments

CRM

a sequence of tasks required to complete the order available resources (human and technical) with skills

technicians have mobile handsets with GPS or vehicle tracking equipment, any time you are faced with a critical situation you are able to locate resources in the nearest location and assign them to resolving the problem.

If you are a Technician In the end, all the work falls on your shoulders. The strategy of the company always requires you to be more productive – to do more and spend less time doing it. But it’s impossible to divide yourself in two. Field Service Management tools allow you to follow the company’s strategy while at the same time, making your job better and more interesting. How?

suitable for completing the order

Mobile Access

a list of tasks currently being completed by technicians resources in the nearest location for completing the order

Location-Based Services If you are responsible for dispatching 20 technicians, do you know exactly where they are at all times? If you have a GIS-based FSM tool you are able to check every location on a digital map, find any technician, order or vehicle. If

Imagine that whenever you need to, you are able to check what work you have to do. Mobile Field Service Management tools allow you to do almost everything on site. A mobile handset will be the most important piece of equipment you have with you in the field. Let’s go through your usual work day. You start by picking up your list of tasks. No need to do this – it’s already on your mobile. Next you plan your route from task to task – no, no! Just use your mobile application to navigate you to the customer. Once on site you have to verify through documentation or by telephone what work

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


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you have to carry out – but with your mobile you already have all this information on the screen, along with the procedure of how to accomplish it and with remote network measurement tools. What’s next? Usually you have to fill out some paperwork with the customer, but now you enter all this data into the mobile handset and capture the customer’s signature.

Optimization tools “Optimization” sounds like a nice, but very often it means that your limits of petrol per mile are cut again and again. But this is not the kind of optimization that Field Service Management tools carry out. FSM optimization tools try to find the most optimal organization of your work, minimizing route distances between task sites. This is possible thanks to information from GIS systems like Google Maps.

customer after some discussions with the field service team or maybe even worse, leave it to them to call the customer to make an appointment? Such a situation is confusing not only for you, but probably even more so for your customer. Field Service Management tools are able to provide you with instant information about free resources and about available time slots for technical service on a customer’s site.

Sales According to Gartner research in the area of Field Service Management (e.g. Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management from 17th July 2010) one of the critical elements of the Field Service Management Life Cycle that has to be supported by FSM tools is customer management capabilities including accountancy and sales.

Spare Parts Management There are cables, modems, set top boxes and many other tools you have to carry in your vehicle. And even if you have tons of stuff in the truck, there always seems to be a problem with a certain piece of equipment that wasn’t taken. What do you do in such a situation? One solution is to go to the warehouse and come back with the spare part for the customer. However this is not only problematic for you, but also creates measurable additional costs for the company, not to mention the effect it has on the KPIs in your department. But even this problematic situation can be resolved thanks to Field Service Optimization tools. With information about your daily tasks you have precise data about what you need to take with you in order to complete all your daily tasks.

Knowledge Base When a network element or customer is not in a standard location (multi-story buildings, mountains or underground locations) having every available piece of additional information shown in the order context is particularly useful. The Knowledge Base in FSM tools will add a description and pictures to your order’s details and thus shorten your time spent on that difficult order.

Customer Service The impact of deploying Field Service Management tools is not only limited to the main beneficiaries such as field service departments. It has a much broader influence on the entire telecommunication department environment.

If you are a CSR You are responsible for resolving customer problems as quickly as possible and the optimal situation is when the problem can be resolved from the first attempt. But what if it is not possible to give the customer actual information about a technician’s visit? What if you have to call the

If you are a salesperson Typically the worst part of a sales specialist’s work is unsuccessful interaction with customers, as well as gathering all the required sales process documents. It is problematic to hold a customer’s attention while going through all the procedures with him needed for completing a sale. The second thing is collecting all the required documents from the customer, such as signed contracts, updates etc. FSM functionalities allow transferring certain sales activities to technicians. They can play a significant role in customer contact by delivering documents and collecting required signatures. This may even include preparing invoices for the customer, and executing sales, thanks to the cross- and up-selling functions of the mobile application. The sales process will be fully aligned with market expectations. Now, your sales team will be supported by valuable representatives, and no opportunity will be wasted.

Summary Synergy is still one of the leading optimization strategies. Improvements are made by unifying and synchronizing the entire company to achieve the same business goals. Consider Field Service Management systems as the next element of a department’s synergy and communication improvement. It is an element which leaves behind the traditional method of managing technical resources and puts into practice a customer-centric strategy, using improvements in customer service processes, service convergence (the system allows managing all field service activities not limited to special domains and services) and cost savings by optimization as well as benefits from outsourcing field services. The full article can be found at: http://field-service.comarch.com

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When you are a new employee at a company. Usually, at the beginning, it takes a significant amount of your time to understand all the procedures and tools used by your department. The Mobile FSM application with all its details about orders, order sites, routes and additional descriptions from the knowledge base allows you to start your normal job right from the very first day.

Glossary: FSM – Field Service Management KPI – Key Performance Indicator GIS - Geographic Information System SLA – Service Level Agreement


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Business cases for policy management ome years ago, policy management did not constitute a hot topic. One of the first cases in which the issue received extensive publicity, was in accordance with when P2P file sharing applications were considered problematic – not only from the legal perspective (copyright issues), but also because of network congestion. Today, policy management is becoming an essential tool for operators in managing network traffic, based on policies and improving service offerings simultaneously. Operators can adjust their service offerings using various parameters, such as service type, time of day, customer location and data volumes. Policy management combines a mixture of underlying network, subscriber data and service delivery into a single entity.

S

Ideas in brief: How and why did policy management issues emerge? What does the customer expect? How does policy management affect customer experience?

Evolution of Policy Management Following the operator’s struggle with P2P file sharing, video streaming from services such as YouTube became the next bandwidth-hungry service. Here, the role of third parties (outside of the operator-customer relationship) has increased – content providers and other 3rd parties can provide data-hungry services to end customers, and operators may not attain additional revenues from this business. The popularity of mobile data services has made the “bit pipe” problem for operators even more challenging. One contributor towards this issue has been the reducing prices of smartphones and mobile data offerings. Subscribers have

Network cost (existing network) Traffic volume

Policy management entails various benefits for the operator: increased customer satisfaction, higher ARPU and reduced costs.

Loss Revenue Profit Cost of new network (e.g. shared network)

Time Dominated by voice

Dominated by data

  Figure 1. Comparison of network economics in existing and LTE networks

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been able to purchase unlimited data plans for a fixed fee per month. However, the problem is that the revenues from mobile data services do not cover the costs of network investments. Many operators have already announced that they will stop offering unlimited data plans for mobile users, and will instead provide various tariff plans with different monthly data quotas. The introduction of LTE improves mobile network efficiency, and data traffic growth does not increase CAPEX to the same level as it does in 3G networks. Thus, operators are more able to increase their revenues without the continuous need to upgrade network capacity. Figure 1 [source: Analysys Mason, 2010] presents the effect of network maintenance costs on the operator’s bottom-line results, between legacy and LTE networks. Notice how traffic volume growth in existing networks correlates with network costs. After LTE, operators still require tools for managing the policies, in order to take full advantage of the revenue opportunities.

Policy Management from the Customer Perspective A typical customer wants to pay as little as possible for the services he is using. Similarly, he also wants to receive as much value as possible for his money – this means that he wants to attain the maximum amount of minutes and megabytes. From the operator’s perspective, this becomes a dilemma – the operator wants to acquire as much money from the customer as possible, and simultaneously, the customer should consume as few network resources as possible. The customer can reap the benefits of the personalized services offered by the operator. Fundamentally, each

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customer has their own service usage habits, such as web browsing, viewing video (e.g. YouTube) and gaming. For each type of end customer, the operator can tailor individual pricing plans and customize the service level. For example, a customer who likes to play multiplayer games on the Internet would appreciate higher service levels for this particular type of service, in this case meaning lower latencies for the game data traffic. Customers may be interested in purchasing value-added services (such as better QoS levels) for an additional fee. An example case can be a business customer who needs high bandwidth for the corporate VPN services he is using. Another example can be a private customer who would like to watch a football match with guaranteed bandwidth and reduced latency. This type of user can buy e.g. a temporary 4-hour “bandwidth boost” from the operator for an additional fee, using the self service portal for the subscription. It can be summarized that customer experience is heightened with policy management – network congestion is reduced, customers receive more individualized tariff plans and customers feel that they are getting more value for their money. Thus, moving from the flat rate, unlimited tariff plans to more individual types, can actually become an advantage for the customer.

Why operators should invest in Policy Management From the operator’s perspective, policy management is not only about throttling the bandwidth from high bandwidth consumers. Policy management entails various benefits for the operator: increased customer satisfaction, higher ARPU and reduced costs.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Pekka Valitalo

Comarch SA

BSS Market Analyst, Telecommunications Business Unit

The typical customer wants to attain the maximum amount of minutes and megabytes for as little money as possible. The operator, on the other hand, would like to acquire as much money from the customer as he can, and simultaneously have the customer consume as few network resources as possible.


OSS/BSS Features

The policy management engine can make dynamic decisions basing on the parameters, and this extends the operator’s role from a mere bit pipe, towards a more customer-focused service provider.

With more individual tariff plans, the operator can up-sell and cross-sell more for existing customers, and increase ARPU in this way. An additional advantage is, of course, the lower costs for network investments and maintenance – due to restricting heavy bandwidth consumers. Network congestion can be controlled, for example, by dynamically allowing only specific types of services on the network (e.g. web surfing is allowed, but video streaming or P2P file sharing is not), in temporary situations where network bandwidth is reducing. The operator is able to increase the segmentation of customers, basing on their individual habits. Various parameters can be used for this segmentation, such as service type, location, subscriber status (e.g. basing on ARPU), device type and age. The policy management engine can make dynamic decisions basing on the parameters, and this extends the operator’s role from a mere bit pipe, towards a more customer-focused service provider. The policies can be applied dynamically and without individual configuration for each customer, by the policy management engine. The information about individual subscribers can be used for allocating customers between various tiers. For example, customers with high ARPU from the previous two months may be automatically allocated to a higher tier for the ensuing month. Individual tiers can have different service allowances and quality of service levels. The customer can be informed of the new service tier e.g. by

The supported interfaces not only follow 3GPP standards (Gx, Gy), but also provide additional interfaces and APIs for integration with the network environment and external systems, making it usable for multiple types of Communication Service Providers.

The self service portal of the operator can be used in various business scenarios for policy management – from defining the service limits (e.g. service type or specific URL/domain) in parental control scenarios, to defining consumption restrictions, and time-of-day limits. This reduces the risk of bill shocks and also provides more choice for end customers to define the appropriate service allowance.

Conclusions The scope of policy management is extending from traditional usage of network throttling towards value-added services, by using subscriber and service data available for the decisions that have an effect on the services that the subscriber is using. Operators are able to use policy management for the offering of personalized services and tariffs to their customers. The Comarch Policy Management solution enables Communication Service Providers to control their network, service sessions and subscriber access, and simultaneously provide subscribers with differentiated services and improved customer experience.

CRM

Billing

Comarch Policy Management

Partners

The figure presents a general architecture of the Comarch Policy Management solution, situated between the billing/ CRM and network layer. The solution is integrated with the underlying network elements to enforce the policies, and can also be integrated with the external billing and CRM systems, instead of using its own online/offline charging functionalities and the subscription profile repository.

SMS, and it is also possible for him to purchase an increased tier for the ensuing months, for an additional fee, in the case that the conditions (such as specific level of ARPU) from the previous months are not met.

Web Services

Online and Offline Charging System

Application Function

Subscribe Profile Repository

Policy and Charging Rules Function

HTTP

Content

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Web Services

Service Control

Gx, Gy

Fixed, Cable

Diameter, RADIUS

API

IP, IMS, NGN Various network types

  Figure 2. Comarch Policy Management solution

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Provisioning

Mobile


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M2M market trends

Overview of the M2M value chain

he Machine-to-Machine (M2M) business, related to the communication between machines and other traditionally non-computing remote devices or sensors, is attaining a global presence. According to The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the M2M market has the potential to connect up to 50 billion machines today, and even more in the near future. Mobile network operators, seeking new revenue sources when faced with reduced voice revenues, have developed an interest in the M2M segment.

T

Devices with embedded connectivity are used in the various sectors: energy, automotive, logistics, infrastructure, security, healthcare, merchandising, payment, monitoring, industry etc. We can encounter machines with SIM cards installed in both our professional and private lives. Their application can be wide, from the monitoring of energy usage, through car connectivity to entertainment.

Thanks to this connectivity, all machines and devices with M2M cards installed can be efficiently monitored, updated and diagnosed remotely, without human intervention. Errors can be detected automatically and alerts can be sent immediately. An example of the application of M2M cards in the automotive sector is presented in Figure 1. In this case, drivers can benefit from faster passage through a road toll, due to the automatic charging of cars and the top-up possibility in the prepaid model. Moreover, logistics and insurance companies can attain accurate information about the routes’ their employees and customers’ take.

Agnieszka Czulak

Comarch SA

BSS Solution Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

The schema for healthcare monitoring is presented in Figure 2. The remote diagnosis of the patient is one of the advantages of this M2M application. Besides a rapid diagnosis, M2M monitoring reduces the cost of treatment and guarantees more freedom for patients who can go home, while still receiving care.

Road Toll Company IT Systems M2M solution

Pekka Valitalo

Internet EXIT EXIT EXIT

  Figure 1. M2M application in the road tolls business

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Comarch SA

BSS Market Analyst, Telecommunications Business Unit


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OSS/BSS Features

Ideas in brief:

Telco Operator IT Systems

Why the M2M business is becoming more and more attractive

Hospital IT Systems

M2M Platform

Which actors are present in the M2M value chain

Internet

Mobile Network

The dilemma network operators face Which trends are present on the M2M market Monitored Patient

Monitored Patient

The M2M enabler can be different to that of a network operator, although in some cases the solution provider and network operator are actually the same company.

Monitored Patient

  Figure 2. M2M application in the healthcare industry

Overview of the M2M ecosystem

Device manufacturers

Figure 3 presents the different actors of the M2M market: Device manufacturer, system integrator, M2M enabler, network operator and end user. Each has different needs and roles related to their activity.

Device manufactures who provide hardware and firmware to M2M partners are equipping devices that were originally designed to operate without reference to mobile technology, with hardware that enables M2M communication.

M2M Enabler

Device Manufacturer

System Integrator

End User

MNO

  Figure 3. Actors of the M2M ecosystem

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Certification requirements are high. Devices have to be compliant with various standards. The performance assurance of devices should be confirmed by detailed tests. For example, the M2M-dedicated SIM cards must be able to operate in certain environments. Thus, device manufactures work constantly on the improvement of their wireless hardware & firmware, in order to satisfy their customers: MNOs, system integrators, M2M enablers, and also end customers of the M2M business.

System integrators The M2M solution needs to be customized depending on the target M2M segment. Attaching a SIM card to an electricity meter does not automatically enable the automatic meter reading scenario; additional effort is still required. System integrators are in charge of development & maintenance of hardware, embedded & server software, bug tracking, and also updates for the M2M solutions. System integrators assume customer risks and guarantee the efficient functioning of hardware & software. Because M2M applications can be complex to set up, the role of system integrators in the M2M value chain is important. The typical end users of M2M services are not focused on technical issues, so it is the system integrator that develops the solution, regarding the hardware and applications. In comparison to device manufacturers, the system integrator may need specific applications from external companies to compose the required M2M solution.

M2M enablers

Network operators Network operators provide the connectivity (network & support) to M2M partners and end users. They are interested in the simplification of internal business operations and optimization of network utilization, in order to provide flexible and efficient services to their customers. Some MNOs have created distinct units responsible for M2M business, which work solely on the rapid development & implementation of new M2M services. In addition to a dedicated organization, MNOs amplify the cooperation with device and application providers in order to create common M2M functionalities. The amount of network elements dedicated to the M2M business is increasing. Many MNOs are deploying their own network elements for this purpose.

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End users usually prefer to purchase an “all-in-one” M2M solution from a single vendor, instead of purchasing individual elements of M2M solutions from various different vendors.

End users Even if the global interest towards the M2M business is high, knowledge of required technology and implementation experience in this area are still rare. Only some end users (enterprises) have already entered the M2M business. But there are also numerous end users conscious of possible M2M opportunities, and who are willing to integrate M2M technology into their existing portfolio, although they do not know how to launch it. Furthermore, a large group of end users exists who are unaware of the existing M2M opportunities within their industries. And many potential end users have also considered the M2M business, but the possible costs have been a barrier. However, the reducing costs of M2M-related hardware and connectivity services are making more M2M-related business cases viable.

The main role of an M2M enabler is offering the end-toend M2M solution. They provide the complete product, connectivity, support, SIM logistics and applications updates. The end users usually prefer to purchase an “all-in-one” solution from the M2M enabler, instead of purchasing the individual elements of the M2M solutions from various different vendors.

End-to-end solutions and high levels of support are necessary for organizations that wish to outsource M2M-related business processes. The organizations need support from M2M partners who will provide them with appropriate solutions. This enables organizations to focus on their core businesses.

The M2M enabler can also provide dedicated applications for specific types of M2M segment. For example, the fleet management industry may be interested in applications that provide all necessary data for transportation management purposes. These applications can be run on the M2M enabler’s M2M platform. From the fleet management company’s perspective, the availability of transportation management applications, as a hosted service, reduces the initial investments in the proprietary IT platform.

Trends in the M2M ecosystem/value chain MNO strategies differ; some of them decide to cooperate with platform provides, while others are looking for a proprietary platform. Recently, the role of MNOs in the M2M value chain has shifted. Previously, MNOs were not as interested in directly entering the M2M business, while the revenues from traditional voice and data services were still rising.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Some MNOs have created distinct units responsible for M2M business, which work solely on the rapid development & implementation of new M2M services.


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OSS/BSS Features

Device Manufacturer

System Integrator

MNO, M2M Enabler

End User

  Figure 4. MNO as an M2M enabler

The growing revenue forecasts for the M2M business have pushed MNOs to enter the M2M market more directly. Figure 4 presents this type of scenario, where the MNO also takes the role of M2M enabler.

MNO dilemma: is it better to use an external solution provider (e.g. M2M enabler) that provides a hosted M2M solution for end users, or to set up a proprietary M2M platform?

The MNO can deploy additional network elements (e.g. HLR and GGSN) that are dedicated to M2M traffic. This can also be carried out by the M2M enabler that uses the same masts as the MNO, but sets up its own network elements. For the MNO, the usage of separate network elements enables the MNO to use the network resources more efficiently and reduces the internal bureaucracy. For the M2M enabler, the proprietary network elements grant more independence from the MNOs, and better flexibility for provisioning activities and error diagnostics. Depending on the type of M2M segment, the MNO may wish to cooperate with niche M2M enablers focused on a specific M2M segment. For example, the M2M enablers that focus on fleet management hardware and applications can help the transport companies to focus on their core businesses, thus creating a win-win situation for both. These niche companies are able to provide a complete end-to-end solution for the fleet management industry, starting from hardware delivery, to providing a hosted platform with fleet management applications. These kinds of end-to-end offerings can be too

narrowly focused for a large MNO, meaning it can be a more suitable business case for a smaller scale M2M enabler, instead. Figure 5 presents this type of business case. MNOs can also provide additional services for increasing revenues, such as design, deployment and support of M2M solutions for enterprises, although these types of services are more commonly offered by a smaller business unit within the MNO organization. These business units can set up the partnerships with device and application manufacturers more rapidly, to provide complete end-to-end solutions.

Conclusions Which approach should the MNO consider: cooperation with an M2M enabler, or setting up a proprietary M2M platform? No unique strategy exists for MNOs that is optimal for all types of M2M business cases. Many different approaches are possible, and the individual MNOs should evaluate which is the best strategy for them. The ongoing trend of MNOs entering the M2M market more directly transforms the revenue stream towards MNOs. The smaller players will still have business opportunities on the market, but they will need to focus on more niche segments, while MNOs focus on the areas that have the highest volumes.

MNO

Device Manufacturer

System Integrator

M2M Enabler

  Figure 5. Cooperation with an M2M enabler

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End User


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From circuit to soft (packet)-switching hen, in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded a patent for the electric telephone by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), nobody, including Bell, nor any other inventors for that matter, could envisage the future of voice transmission. Not so long ago, as the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) evolved from analog to digital (thanks to digital Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) technology), we entered the era of NGN networks (Next Generation Network), based on Internet protocols such as IP (Internet Protocol) and MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching). Therefore, next generation networks are often named “all-IP” networks, to emphasize the transformation towards IP protocol. Packet-based NG networks are able to provide data, text, fax and numerous types of multimedia such as video, in addition to the traditional landline telephone system (POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service).

W

The rapid development of broadband Internet access in the early years of the 21st century accelerated the growth of services supported by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). The standardization of IP-based signaling protocols such as H.323 or SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) raised voice services migration from circuit-switched architecture (PSTN) to VoIP. And so the era of Internet telephony has begun.

Softswitch technology’s evolution to an IMS architecture The necessity for voice transformation from circuit-switched (PSTN, SS7) to packet-based form (IP) initiated the evolution of softswitch technology. In telecommunications networks, softswitch is a software-based central device responsible

for VoIP call control and integration with the PSTN network. In the early stages of softswitch technology development, the solution architecture was based on a Call Agent, responsible for call control, call routing and signaling and a Media Gateway responsible for end-to-end media (voice, data) streaming. The Call Agent would control several Media Gateways interfaced into PSTN or IP networks. In modern softswitch-based architecture, the Call Agent is separated from the Media Gateway. Due to the immaturity of the technology, various definitions of softswitches have been used by different manufacturers. With the development of NG networks, softswitch technology matured and was standardized as an IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) architecture by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and ETSI (European Telecommunication Standards Institute). Within the IMS architecture, the role of the softswitch is performed by an MGC (Media Gateway Controller) using MGCP protocol (Media Gateway Control Protocol) or H.248 protocol (also known as Megaco).

Lukasz Grodzki

Comarch SA

BSS Solution Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

Where does Unified Communication fit in? NG network convergence introduced VoIP technology into fixed and mobile networks. Softswitch technology was designed to provide voice and data services, while the IMS is focused on all multimedia and IP network features, offering the customers of fixed, mobile and cable providers’ access to multiple services such as:

Voice and video telephony IP PBX, hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) Automated Attendants, receptionist

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

“...the era of Internet telephony has begun


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OSS/BSS Features

Signaling

Ideas in brief:

Service / Application Plane

Media

Application Servers (AS)

HSS

What are the trends in modern telecommunications?

SCIM

How to understand Unified Communication Why Internet Protocol seems to be the future of convergent communication

S-CSCF

BGCF

I-CSCF

MGCF

P-CSCF RACS NASS

A-RACS

I-BCF / SIP ALG

(S)PDF

SGCF

PSTN

MRF UE

DSLAM R7: Broadband

UE

WAG

IPv4 Network

PDG I-BGF / TrGW

Core Network

GGSN RAN

MGW

MRFP

R6: WiFi

UE

MRCF

BAS / A=BGF

SGSN Media / Transport Plane

R5: GPRS/UMTS

IPv6 Network

  Figure 1. IMS Functional architecture

VMS (Voice Mail System) and IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

The migration from circuit-switched to packet-switched technology seems to be inevitable.

Control / Signaling Plane

CSCF

What are the benefits of voice transmission through IP protocol?

Enhanced phonebook, with a presence feature

costs. The idea of Unified Communication is to deliver communication services seamlessly to any device, across any access network. Fixed and mobile convergence can benefit both residential and corporate customers with new services, its simplification and unification.

Enhanced messaging, with chat and history features Enriched call, with multimedia content-sharing during

The main advantages of a mature IMS architecture delivered through packet-switched technology are:

voice sessions

IP-based NGN architecture (well-defined modularity and

The benefits of IMS and Unified Communications IMS, as the advanced carrier-grade service delivery platform, enables operators to deliver innovative real-time and non real-time services or Web 2.0 applications to demanding customers through a unified platform, thus lowering

interfaces)

Common media control and network management functions

Lower OPEX through remote and centralized management, and common network infrastructure 140000 120000 100000 Millions of Minutes

The evolution of IMS stimulates the growth of mobile and fixed telecommunication networks.

This set of multimedia services is usually referred to as Unified Communication (UC). The advantage of UC is that it enables providing services through multiple devices and media types anytime, anywhere and in any way. It allows service providers to offer fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) without any other additional equipment. Mobile communication services such as enhanced phonebook, enhanced messaging or enriched call are known as a Rich Communication Suite (RCS). RCS is an IMS-based specification of communication services, developed by the consortium of mobile manufacturers and operators, such as AT&T, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, SonyEricsson, T-Mobile and many others.

80000 60000 40000 20000 0 traffic

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2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 5544 11021 18502 28706 46057 68900 97567 123974

  Figure 2. International voice IP traffic growth


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Decreased CAPEX through scalable server-based hardware architecture (multiple hardware platforms supported) and user-based licensing

Revenue-generating services 120%

Source:CIBC Network Equipment Physical Facilities Fiber Operations

100% 80% 45%

generation network). The main advantages of LTE are high throughput, low latency and flat architecture, which imply minimal operating costs. The first LTE services are available in Scandinavia (opened by TeliaSonera in Stockholm and Oslo), and shortly operators will announce the running of all-IP based LTE networks. Global mobile operators and device manufacturers support VoLTE (Voice over LTE), an initiative announced in February 2010 and adopted by GSMA (GSM World). The purpose of VoLTE is to standardize the method of delivering voice and messaging services in the future for LTE, using IMS specifications developed by 3GPP. GSMA VoLTE is built upon the following principles:

60% 25% 40%

25%

20%

20%

0%

Single implementation promotes scale - single technology being used across all networks, phones and devices

15% 20%

10%

7% NextGen

Legacy

Single implementation reduces complexity

LTE – the future of IMS - VoIP goes HD and wireless VoIP traffic is constantly growing in international networks, replacing TDM international networks. TDM traffic has noted negative growth since 2004. Nowadays, billions of minutes of international long distance calls are transferred over IP via wholesale carriers or global voice providers. The evolution of IMS stimulates the growth of mobile and fixed telecommunication networks. Third generation mobile networks (3G) provide a High Density (HD) of voice and video, with an elevated quality of service (QoS). The migration from circuit-switched to packet-switched technology seems to be inevitable for both fixed and mobile networks. Mature 3G networks, such as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System), which is a combination of circuit- and packet-switching technology, will be replaced by all-IP flat networking architecture. The way to achieve this is LTE (3GPP Long-Term Evolution), also called 4G (fourth

Rel-99

WCDMA

LTE –Long-Term Evolution VoIP - Voice over IP Protocol USPTO - United States Patent and Trademark Office PSTN - Public Switched Telephone Network

MGC - Media Gateway Controller

What’s next?

POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service

Migration from circuit-switched GSM and 3G networks to IP-based LTE networks won’t happen overnight. Operators will need to provide service continuity. However, besides all of the challenges, operators have no other choice. IMS in mobile networks is materializing. By 2011, 80% of service providers will deliver voice over IMS. What’s next? LTE Advanced, the younger brother of LTE, will emerge in the second decade of the 21st century, with the benefits of a throughput rate level of 1 Gbit/s, and low power nodes such as pico or femtocells. What is beyond this? The human need for communication – the only consistent factor stimulating technologies to evolve to bring communications to us more cheaply, simply and at a higher standard

Enhanced User Experience

Voice and full Range of IP Services

Improved voice and data capability

Rel-99

HD - High Density

The prognosis states that the top 25 LTE operators will attain 200 million subscribers by 2015.

Excellent Mobile Broadband Today

Rel-5

Glossary:

TDM - Time-Division Multiplexing

Single implementation enables roaming

  Figure 3. NGN Network benefits

25

Rel-7

HSPA

SIP - Session Initiation Protocol PBX - Private Branch Exchange VMS - Voice Mail System IVR - Interactive Voice Response FMC - Fixed-mobile convergence UC - Unified Communication

Rel-8

Rel-9 & beyond

HSPA+

(HSPA Envolved)

RCS - Rich Communication Suite

3GPP - 3rd LTE leverages news, wider and TDD spectrum

2009 – 2010

Rel-8

Rel-9

LTE

Rel-10

LTE-A

2011+ ---------->

  Figure 4. Mobile technologies evolution

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Generation Partnership Project

ETSI - European Telecommunication Standards Institute


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OSS/BSS Features

Knowledge transfer or change announcement? very company requires an ongoing communications and training program. They should be designed to ensure that all employees, full time and temporary, as well as contractors understand the enterprise’s policies, processes and software and know how to follow and use them properly.

E

Ideas in brief: Different training methods for different types of users and systems Scheduling - one of the keys to success Not only teach, but also listen

Imagine the following situation: new software has just been implemented and we have several or a few dozen employees that must be trained to use it. There is always reluctance to change at work, always thoughts of: “there will be reductions”, “I won’t be needed any more”, “I will have more problems now”, “I liked the old way better”, and these types of sentiments can be multiplied. How can an employee be convinced that this change will have a positive affect and how can the training be made more effective for the company? Here are some tips to do just that.

Don’t hide anything According to Murphy’s law, when everything is well organized and every detail has been perfectly arranged, something always happens to ruin the ‘happy ending’. This is exactly why it is best to reveal each and every stage of a new project to those who it may concern. Starting from the context of the change, its strategy and ending with the contact peoples’ names or the exact dates of the implementation. If any threats to the project exist, it is in the company’s best interest to raise the awareness of the team responsible, in order to make them more focused on the given problem. In the end, this new software may not meet all requirements and expectations due to various reasons. It is better to disclose this at the beginning, rather than to wait until the last minute, and make the issue seem like a bolt from the blue for system users.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


OSS/BSS Features

Type of Training

New Employees

Classroom

Web-Based Virtual Classes

Personal Trainer

White-Collar Mobile Workers

Blue-Collar Mobile Filed Workers √

Skills Training

Vertical Applications

E-Training Modules

Cheat Sheets

Help Desk Training Modules JITT Embedded in the Application

Immediate Response

√ √

√ √

Katarzyna Gajewska

√ √

√ = Appropriate to user or application

  Figure 1. Training Method Comparison

Consult new features

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Comarch SA

Marketing&PR Specialist, Telecommunications Business Unit

Consult changes with engaged employees

Every employee will feel appreciated if you are informing her/him about planned changes. This is especially true if it concerns the job that they perform. Usually a delegated team is responsible for First Site Application (FSA) tests and the final user may not have much in common with the new features being planned for the next release. Imagine how they would react when coming back from holidays: they read an email explaining how a new version of the software was installed and the interface has changed. Frustration along with many raised eyebrows would be common. Questions would be asked such as: “Our bosses don’t use this software on a daily basis! What do they know about it?” or “On which basis was this change requested? What for?” There are ways that may bring you benefits while keeping end users satisfied: a Mailing list, a dedicated website or a meeting with several agenda points. New software should have features that the old system did not have, features that allow users to work faster, more effectively and most of all, make their life easier. There is no better way to obtain this information than from the end users themselves!

Proper communication Everybody wants to be well informed about impending changes. Remember that decisions should be sent in advance. The type of application, the sophistication of the end-user audience and the geographic distribution of the users will create all kinds of demands. In addition to standard classroom training, just–in-time-training cannot be overlooked. Every training delivery mechanism is specific to certain situations, and always comes with advantages as well as disadvantages. In general, the entire set of training mechanisms, as shown on the table below, is required. Source: Gartner [Toolkit Best Practices: Training End Users].

A training plan cannot be taken from a template. It must be well-suited to the scheduled training. It must literally be “tailored” to the specific needs of the customer. Off-the-shelf training is usually a very fundamental mistake. Of course for products which are standard and unchangeable, this course of action may be appropriate. However, in the real world of IT projects, such a situation is like discovering a unicorn. Project leaders should discuss use cases with workers and after the first training sessions, the training plan should be adjusted. Maintaining and measuring workshop effectiveness is also very important. Ideally, workers should be able to use at least 80% of the system’s functionalities. If there are many teams to be trained, managers must measure this effectiveness and make corrections for subsequent groups.

In most cases, a user’s attention span drops significantly during training that lasts more than half a day. For mobile field workers who work in vehicles or outside all day, the attention span can be as low as 30 minutes.

Constant improvement based on feedback Getting feedback from training participants is vital in the process of constant improvement. Effective communication between a trainer and system users will benefit both sides. Using feedback forms and questionnaires after every training is a great practice. This can help highlight issues that may have been overlooked during the training planning phase or topics that users are not concerned with.

Worst-case scenario The worst-case scenario is providing no training at all. Poorly trained or untrained users will cost the company significantly more to support than well-trained employees. Workers who are devoid of training, who spend a significant portion of their time away from the office, and who often have networking questions from multiple remote locations, are generally the most expensive to support.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

E-training is a costeffective approach for off-the-shelf applications. Users can work on their own schedules and pick the appropriate level of difficulty.


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OSS/BSS Features

Boosting service innovation – getting through the jungle of buzzwords: SDP, service broker, orchestration, SOA, service composition…

ommunication Service Providers (CSP) strive to boost service innovation to augment basic connectivity services. They are aware that they may need new tools to realize this goal, but are bombarded with buzzwords, by many claiming they have the right solution. This article suggests taking the problem-centric approach, to avoid being drawn into the flood of new buzzwords.

C

Ideas in brief: SOA is a concept, tools can only help CSPs to realize it Right level of service composition is key for effective service reusability Service component granularity should match CSPs expertise Service catalogdriven fulfillment and service execution is an answer CSPs require use cases demonstrating how to quickly introduce new services, not new buzzwords

Currently, CSPs face two main challenges: firstly, they are pushed by Internet players, Google, Apple and alike, which may result in rendering CSPs as dumb pipe providers. Secondly, CSPs do not receive proportional compensation for the costs inflicted by the serge in data consumed by customers. The latter change makes the effect of the first even more severe. As a remedy, CSPs aim to refocus more on customer applications and end customer services, instead of purely on communication services. This also leads to the introduction of new business models, which allow CSPs to assume a central role in the value chain. (This subject I have discussed in blog post [1]). To realize this trend, CSPs need to boost the service innovation rate, and this may require novel tools. This demand has been recognized by many who claim to have the right tools for CSPs. The problem is that in order to market these new tools, many buzzwords have been created. There is nothing wrong with new terms introduction, as long as they help us to understand and solve problems, but quite often they are simply used as marketing ploys to convince CSPs to buy tools which sport the longest list of popular buzzwords.

SOA, reusability, components, mash-ups… Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is not a product, but a concept. Even the best tool will not guarantee the benefits

of SOA - it can only help you to employ this architecture. For me, SOA is all about reusability, realized by componentbased service creation. In other words, the concept that you can create new services from reusable building blocks. This is, in fact, also the main concern of mash-ups. Newly created (assembled) services can be used farther for composing higher level services. This may lead to confusion, as many tools assisting service composition may operate at a different level of service composition. Why does understanding service component granularity matter to CSPs? CSPs are unlikely to want to compete with developers, or even force them to change their favored development environments, but on the contrary, aim to leverage the creativity of a developer’s work. This means that what, from a CSP perspective, should be treated as an atomic service component, might, from the developer’s viewpoint, represent a coarse-grained composite service component. An example could be an augmented reality application, which when simplifying, can be perceived as composed from: a geolocation service, image recognition, customer preference services, searching information and overlaying the found information on top of other original images. From the developers perspective, searching can be a complex service leveraging indexing, key matching and a rating service. What is also worth realizing, is that the more fine grained a component is, the more complicated service assembly is. ‘Complicated’ in this context refers to requiring more IT expertise. Although implementing SOA means replacing cumbersome, monolithic services with composite services built up from more fine-grained components, it does not mean that service components should be broken down into tiny pieces. The CSPs should only tackle service composition which does not require programming skills, leaving more fined grained types to developers.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


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Fulfillment and execution time orchestration New service introduction must comprise three main areas: service fulfillment, service assurance and service execution. The first two areas are well-defined process verticals on the eTOM map. Service execution is simply the period when a service (after it has been ordered) is used by a customer. Introducing the SOA service composition concept also means bringing in the term “orchestration”. If a service is composed of smaller pieces, delivering a service means leveraging the functionality of these components. Orchestration is focused on employing the functionality of these components. We can identify two types of orchestration: fulfillment orchestration, and orchestration at the point of execution. Fulfillment orchestration is also related to the term “order decomposition”, when the initial customer offers’ are decomposed down to orders, against the components from which a service is built up. From a technical point of view, orchestration refers to invoking the service management API of the service component. Execution time orchestration accounts for invoking the functional API of the component when a customer uses a service (during a call). These two methods of orchestration should naturally relate to each other, as the service execution must comply with what a customer has ordered. This leads to the concept of the common model for the fulfillment and execution environment.

Service catalog-driven composition To really enable CSPs to rapidly introduce new services, there should be a single location where service composition is controlled. Ideally, it ought to be a service catalog which drives service order fulfillment, and by orchestrating service components, management API should define execution orchestration. What is important is that the granularity of the components managed by the service catalog should be limited to the level where composition does not require programming skills, and ought to enable CSP product managers to introduce new services to the market. This concept is described in my whitepaper [2].

promising to diminish the silos problem. Another hyped term is “Service Broker”. This name is defined by 3GPP, but there are extensions to the 3GPP definition which add additional roles, like Reverse IM-SSF and even Web 2.0 gateway. The former is to enable IN applications to leverage new components developed on the IMS platform. The Web 2.0 gateway includes the role of Network APIs (reference to blog post “Network API – Business Models”) for web developers to leverage network assets. To depict how service broker refers to NGSDP would be a subject for a dedicated article.

Conclusion – practical approach for CSPs Understanding what buzzwords really mean and how different terms relate to each other may be somewhat challenging, especially when quite often there are no common definitions for them. The practical approach CSPs can take when evaluating different solutions, is to simply ask for a use case for introducing a new service. The use case should demonstrate the whole process and cover:

where service composition is controlled what granularity of service composition is intended to be managed by the CSP

what skills are required – how complex composition/ orchestration definition is

whether it embraces service fulfillment, execution and service assurance

if it is integrated with the service catalog which drives

The Service Delivery Platform was initially touted as a complete solution for CSPs to rapidly introduce new services. The problem is that many SDPs turned out to be stove-pipe SDPs, and as a result CSPs would require a constellation of SDPs, and so the issue of reusing service components implemented on different SDPs remained. Then, the term “Next Generation SDP” appeared, and this defines a solution which may be perceived as the “SDP” of “SDPs”, meaning the introduction of a horizontal service layer

Lukasz Mendyk

Comarch SA

OSS Product Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

What is important is that the granularity of the components managed by the service catalog should be limited to the level where composition does not require programming skills, and ought to enable CSP product managers to introduce new services to the market.

customer order management

how easily I can reuse my existing services, and what is required to make them service components

whether it is accompanied with design patterns This article may prove to be controversial, and so I encourage further discussion on my blog, where the article is also published.

SDP, NGSDP, service brokers…

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References: [1] “Seeking New Revenue Opportunities – Application Platform Wars” Comarch blog: www.telcosphere.comarch.com [2] “Fulfilling the Promise of Component-Based Service Creation” – Comarch whitepaper

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

The practical approach CSPs can take when evaluating different solutions, is to simply ask for a use case for introducing a new service.


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OSS/BSS Features

Bright future for IPTV – are you ready? y the end of 2010, Vodafone will present its proprietary IPTV offer, named Vodafone TV, at IFA. Based on a hybrid approach, satellite and cable signals are processed via a platform developed by Vodafone Germany. Following Telekom and Alice, Vodafone will now be the third provider of IP television in Germany.

B

Ideas in brief: What is IPTV nowadays Requirements and offerings of IPTV The basic structure of an IPTV headend Comarch’s proposal for IPTV operators

In the future, IPTV will be an inherent part of complete service offers to consumers.

In light of the growing competition, the market research enterprise Canalys sees the conventional telecommunications providers as under pressure to clearly increase their average revenue per user (ARPU). According to Canalys, many of these companies may resort to IPTV. In the future, IPTV will be an inherent part of complete service offers to consumers. The growing competition is primarily provoked by cable network providers that retrofit their cable networks for broadband Internet, and who now want to join in the large telecommunications market as quadruple players. Kabel Deutschland (KDG), the German cable network operator, is one example here. KDG already offers analog / digital cable

TV, broadband Internet, fixed-line telephony via Voice over IP, as well as mobile telephony via the Telefónica O2 network. This way, the operative business of cable TV operators and conventional telecommunications providers equals more and more. Normally, IPTV is offered by a telecommunications provider via its broadband network, with defined quality (QoS) and fixed program bouquets, which reflect TV contents that can be subscribed to by certain users. The strongest motor for the spread of internet-based TV is most definitely the development of broadband connections, such as DSL, ADSL2, or VDSL promoted in recent years. The transmission of TV contents in PAL or SDTV (Standard Definition Television) quality requires a data rate with an average of 2-6 Mbit/s. HDTV even requires bandwidths with an average of 6-16 Mbit/s. Furthermore, it must be possible to operate several TV sets in each household at the same time, which would cause a respective multiplication of the bandwidth required. Therefore, IPTV supporters forecast

ISDN, DSL, ADSL, VDSL

Internet over Cable

Internet ISDN, PSTN

Telecommunications Provider

VoIP

Telephony GSM, GPRS, UMTS

Mobile Communications

IPTV

Television

GSM, GPRS, UMTS MVNO TV, HbbTV

  Figure 1. Convergence of Telecommunications and CATV providers

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

CATV Provider


OSS/BSS Features

future demand for Internet bandwidth to reach a rate of at least 30-50 Mbit/s per household.

Video on Demand enables playing any video clip at any

However, new technologies and improved coding procedures such as, for example, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC – a standard for highly efficient video compression – help to minimize required data rates and to optimally use existing bandwidths.

Hooking up multiple audio programs, foreign language

So why do conventional telecommunications providers increasingly include IPTV in their service portfolio, and thus take the plunge into the television world when facing competition from cable network operators?

Purchase transactions and T-commerce

So is there a future for IPTV? While the bandwidths of Internet still grant ample scope both in telecommunications and cable networks, the question that remains unanswered is: which TV medium will dominate in the future – conventional analog / digital TV or IPTV? IPTV normally requires a broadband Internet connection, whereas its bandwidth and the signal form (SD or HD) restrict the simultaneous broadcast of several television channels, and thus also the operation of various TV sets. Moreover, the image quality is often of lower quality than that of conventional analog / digital TV a typical television consumer is used to.

time

channels, subtitles

Interactive television (hypervideos)

Web 2.0 functions

Integrating media libraries of TV channels and Video on Demand

Integration of HTML pages television image (interactive text and image information, menu functions, news tickers)

Improved options for teletext, like high resolution presentation of pictures and graphics

Searching for video clips or TV channels via clear-text queries

Generating TV contents based on user preferences and/

Daniel Kloppich Comarch SA

In fact, conventional television also tries to enhance its functional range by means of Internet or newly established standards, in order to offer viewers not only the broadcasting of TV channels, but also innovative services. HbbTV (hybrid broadcast TV) represents a new international standard, on which leading European TV operators and companies of the electronics industry agreed. This expansion of television connects broadcasting and Internet contents, and offers, amongst others, the following services:

Transparent overlay presentation on the current However, IPTV currently offers viewers more than traditional television image transmission. Due to the integral return channel of IPTV, a variety of new functions and services opens up like, for example:

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Combination of previous TV services such as the Electronic Program Guide (EPG), current Internet offers of TV broadcasters, videotext

or viewer profiles

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

OSS Consultant, Telecommunications Business Unit

Conventional television also tries to enhance its functional range by means of Internet or newly established standards, in order to offer viewers not only the broadcasting of TV channels, but also innovative services.


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OSS/BSS Features

Signal processing in IPTV headends The reception and processing of TV channels, as well as conversion for Internet, take place in so-called “headends”. An example of signal processing by resources of an IPTV headend is given in Figure 2.

Comarch offers a comprehensive solution for efficient and centralized IPTV channel management. This solution supports IPTV service providers with connecting, managing and planning several hundred TV programs, as well as with inventorying and configuring the headend devices involved.

Broadcasters (television stations or their service providers) deliver the signal either via satellite or cable connection (e.g. glass fiber). Direct delivery is primarily used for adequate HD signals. The L-band matrix enables the flexible interconnection of any inputs and outputs, so that diverse satellite signals will be transmitted to connected receivers or IRDs (Integrated Receiver Decoder). IRDs receive and decode the satellite signals. Since some channels are delivered in a scrambled form, additional descrambling is required, using a CA (Conditional Access) module. IRDs provide two different output signals. On the one hand, a SDI (Serial Digital Interface) signal is generated with an uncompressed audio/video signal, and on the other hand, a compressed ASI (Asynchronous Serial Interface) signal is generated. In addition to audio and video, the ASI signal includes, for example, signal streams for service information and teletext. Direct delivery over cable can take place via various signal streams, which are then connected to different devices for further signal processing. In part, these signals are conducted through IRDs, as they have to be decoded. An SDI signal delivered over cable can be directly transferred as well. For further audio/video processing, the SDI signal enters into the SDI router either from an IRD or from direct delivery. This router enables switching from inputs to outputs without changes being necessary to the wiring. In the audio leveling system, the audio signal is separated from the SDI signal (de-embedding) and the sound level is adjusted. Depending on the type of signal, additional processing steps are required. In contrast to simple stereo signals, Dolby Digital signals (e.g. AC3) have to be decoded before leveling, and encoded again afterwards. The SDI signal is passed on from audio leveling, over an encoder router, to an encoder that corresponds to the video format (SD or HD). The encoder converts the signal within a multiplexing process and generates a MPEG4/AVC transport stream. This stream includes audio and video, but the EIT (Event Information Table) data required for the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) are still missing.

Customerfacing Services

Parallel to the audio/video processing, the ASI (Asynchronous Serial Interface) signal is conducted from the IRD to a corresponding multiplexer, in which only the SI data are processed and summarized as signals with several SI streams. These signals are analyzed in the SI subsystem, and the EIT data included in them are processed. If the TV channel does not contain any embedded SI data, such data can be uploaded via external data sources also. The SI subsystem processes all kinds of information and provides the necessary EIT data as an output signal. The EIT data and the MPEG4/ AVC stream are combined in an IP multiplexer. The complete transport stream is conducted over an IP switch to the distribution platform (e.g. Microsoft Mediaroom), and from there it is distributed to customers.

Transmission Path

TV Channel

Receiving System

SAT

L-Band Matrix

IRD

SDI Router

Audio Leveling

Stereo Levelling

Encoding

SDI Router

SD Encoder

Distirbution Platorm

SI Data Processing

ASI Router

ASI MUX

Multiplexing

SI Subsystem

IP MUX

IP Routing

IP Switch

Backbone Connection

Distribution Server

Router

Access Connection

DSLAM

CPE

Resources

Resourcefacing Services

Internal Services

Delivery Platorm

Headend

  Figure 2. Service tree of a full Transmission Path

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Core Network

Access Network


OSS/BSS Features

IPTV channel management – Comarch’s approach

supports the IPTV operator with planning new TV channels, as well as with the required headend equipment.

TV signals are predominantly delivered by broadcasters in various ways. They can differ, for example, with regard to signal source, coding, scrambling, or video format. For this reason, diverse technical devices, connections, and software packages are applied within a headend, and connected to each other as transmission paths for TV programs, according to specific channels.

The configuration of headend equipment is guaranteed by Comarch Configuration Management. Device configurations are also saved and managed in the form of templates. This way, different templates can be created for one device and assigned to TV channels. Thus, it is possible, for example, to allocate a template to the encoder of a sports channel with its specific configuration parameters. The respective configuration of the devices is transferred to such devices using the Comarch Mediation Platform. This way, the system can automatically carry out a complete channel connection and the adequate configuration of the devices required for the respective channel in the headend. Furthermore, the actual configuration of devices can be gathered and compared with the target configuration stored in the system, in order to resultantly detect discrepancies and avoid misconfiguration of the TV channel. Comarch OSS Process Management automates the different operations with respect to channel connection, channel deactivation, and the transfer of configurations.

Comarch offers a comprehensive solution for efficient and centralized IPTV channel management. This solution supports IPTV service providers with connecting, managing and planning several hundred TV programs, as well as with inventorying and configuring the headend devices involved. In the Comarch Resource Inventory, all headend devices, their parameters, software licenses, as well as physical connections between the devices, are stored and managed. In addition to these physical objects, broadcaster information, as well as the profile data of the TV channel (e.g. name, language, genre, etc.) are saved. The Comarch Service Inventory stores the structure of TV channels as service templates. A service template is modeled with regard to the channel characteristics and groups the various devices required for realizing a channel type. Based on these service templates, new TV channels can be easily created as a service in the system. Furthermore, Comarch’s solution

Trouble Ticketing system (3rd party)

KnowHow Database

Additionally, Comarch’s IPTV Channel Management solution can be upgraded with the Service Assurance solution. In doing so, the Comarch Mediation Platform collects alarm signals and performance data from headend equipment, and informs the administrator about possible service impact, in order to ensure the proper broadcasting of TV programs.

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Glossary: ADSL2 – Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line 2 ARPU – Average Revenue per User ASI – Asynchronous Serial Interface CA – Conditional Access CATV – Cable TV DSL – Digital Subscriber Line EIT – Event Information Table EPG – Electronic Program Guide H.264/MPEG-4 AVC – Advanced Video Coding

BSS (3rd party)

HbbTV – Hybrid Broadcast TV

Other systems

HDTV – High Definition TV Enhanced Communication Bus Reusable components of Comarch OSS

Comarch OSS Process management Comarch Service Inventory Management

Comarch Resource Inventory Management

Comarch Planning Module

Comarch Configuration Management Authentication Service

...

Network Provisioning & Reconciliation

...

... ...

Comarch OSS & WEB Console

Reporting Service

IPTV – Internet Protocol Television IRD – Integrated Receiver Decoder PAL – Phase Alternating Line

Enhanced Communication Bus

Mediation Device

Mediation Device

Mediation Device

Mediation Device

Mediation Device

Comarch OSS Mediation PlatforM

(CORBA, JDBC, SNMP, XML, Proprietary)

Notification & Escalation Service

System Repository & Configuration

SDTV – Standard Definition Television SDI – Serial Digital Interface

IRD

Encoder

Switch EMS

Headend devices

3rd party system

Network Environment

  Figure 3. Comarch’s solution for IPTV Channel Management

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

VDSL – Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line


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OSS/BSS Features

Why use Plain Old Inventory Management if you no longer sell Plain Old Telephone Services?

f we look to the future of Communications Service Providers, we will see LTE technologies emerging with constantly increasing power. Among others, the new technologies were designed to make networks more flexible, adaptable and cheaper to deploy. The time required for enabling new services shrinks from weeks to days, and maybe even hours.

Future-proof inventory management

Delivering services to the customer requires several coarsely grained steps being performed through different operations departments. These departments use dedicated systems, usually from different vendors, to perform their tasks. That’s for today’s future. Today’s past relates to how all these sophisticated and full-featured systems do not integrate seamlessly. Each stores its own data (often relating to the same things) in separate databases and in different formats. Interfaces cut out advanced functionalities, simply because they are not flexible enough. The data exchange is often a (inverted) trade-off between complexity and reliability - less complexity, less reliability.

The following questions will help us to draw borders, for what is future-proof inventory management.

I

The plain old inventory management systems, seen as databases storing network element configurations and network topology, decorated with some wizards and consistency checks, simply do not fit anymore.

We live in exciting times, when some terms require redefinition. The plain old inventory management systems, seen as databases storing network element configurations and network topology, decorated with some wizards and consistency checks, simply do not fit anymore.

Do you know your network? What You See Is What You (have) Got. This well-known acronym describes a system in which content displayed during editing appears within the final output. In the case of an inventory system, this applies to systems, accurately reflecting important network and service structures. Unfortunately, synchronizing the state of the real network with its virtual representation in the inventory is not a trivial

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


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Ideas in brief: Why the ‘inventory management system’ term needs to be redefined Some useful questions that will help you recognize futureproof inventory management systems What builds the perfect ecosystem for inventory data

task, for it usually involves thousands of elements being scanned, and their model representation created and compared with corresponding data in the inventory. And still, this is the only way.

Can you plan your network? Every day, engineers must plan network development. They try to predict the future to satisfy growing customer demands, or to prepare for large-scale events lasting several days. In each case, they need to try out new configurations in connection to the current network state, although not influencing it. The plans also need to be validated, yet the character of the plans differs from that of the operational data. Plans can be incomplete, even invalid – that’s perfectly fine. There still, however, must be a degree of validation allowing planners to work efficiently.

Do you control your network? We do not only create plans, we also execute them. Some plans deal with hardware to be added or dismissed, others with software or hardware configurations. Networks are heterogeneous organisms, built from thousands of elements from different vendors. The manifold of networks creates problems with many vendor-specific configurations, and the only effective way to cope with it, is to configure network using generic models, and let the system translate it to vendor-specific parlance.

Paweł Sabina Comarch SA

Can you do so in a consistent and automated way? Are you aware of the details for introducing a new base station? Finding the location, leasehold, construction, hardware/software deployment, configuration etc. - single tasks performed by operations departments which comprise a greater process. You should be able to define, manage, automate and optimize network and service processes, according to business and technical rules.

Comarch Comarch Technology Technology Review  Review   02/2010  01/2010

OSS Solution Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit


OSS/BSS Features

Comarch Inventory ecosystem With Comarch OSS Suite modules composed together, you can reply YES to all these questions. The unique combination of the following Comarch OSS Suite components: Reconciliation, Inventory Management, Planning and Provisioning & Configuration Management, build the perfect ecosystem for your inventory data. And this is how:

Inventory management

Inventory planning

Plan

Inventory Operational Data

& ionintgion Provis ura nt Config geme Mana

Rec o

nci

liat

ion

Network State Delta

Each stores its own data in separate databases and in different formats. Interfaces cut out advanced functionalities, simply because they are not flexible enough.

Conversion

Live Network State (Generic)

Process Live Network State (Vendor specific)

Sca nni ng

Network

  Figure 1. Comarch Inventory ecosystem

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Technician

Generic model + vendor-specific data

The unique combination of the following Comarch OSS Suite components: Reconciliation, Inventory Management, Planning and Provisioning & Configuration Management, build the perfect ecosystem for your inventory data.

Vendor specific data

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OSS/BSS Features

Knowing the network…

Accurate inventory requires continuous scanning of the network in search of changes. Indeed, LTE claims network equipment of the future will report their statuses over the common Northbound Interface. At this moment, however – and in the near future – we will still rely on network scanning. Comarch reconciliation employs powerful multi-vendor mediation, so you will never need to work with an outdated network inventory. This also has business implications. Accurate inventory leads to reduced OPEX, through better organization of tasks and limiting unnecessary onsite visits.

modules work with two layers of element parameters: generic – homogenous for the given element type, and vendor-specific. In this way, inventory management tasks can be performed the same way, regardless of who delivers the equipment. Such generic parameters are automatically transformed to vendor-specific configuration. In this way, inventory management tasks can be performed the same way, regardless of who delivers the equipment. Nevertheless, specific vendor configurations are also stored in the inventory, and thus are accessible if needed. The necessary simplifications are introduced on purpose: resignation of some vendor-specific attributes helps achieving business benefits: reduced CAPEX - no need to buy separate vendorspecific software; reduced OPEX - due to less onsite visits and simplified configuration.

Planning the network…

In an automated and controlled way

Comarch OSS Planning seamlessly integrates with inventory components. This means you can plan using accurate data from an operational inventory. Moreover, planned executions can be verified (and measured), because the inventory always contains accurate data – thanks to the Reconciliation component.

All the aforementioned components of the Comarch OSS Suite cooperate perfectly, in terms of data flow, and the natural consequence of this is wrapping all these components (and activities) with processes. OSS processes are, by nature long-running - lasting hours, days, months or in many cases, years. Their elements vary from highly detailed tasks manipulating data in the inventory, to coarsely grained types, like invoking services to tasks performed by humans. Comarch’s processes integrate seamlessly with all Comarch OSS Suite components, acting as a central point of management and automation. And from the business perspective, you should be able to remove ‘the integration tax’ (cost and time inefficiencies created by disintegrated systems) from business processes, and provide enhanced integration and improved efficiency of these processes. No more forgotten tasks, nor work duplication.

To know the network, means to have an insight into its very workings. Comarch’s Reconciliation component is able to scan the network, employing a rich mediation layer.

Planning is a long-running process, and you can expect incomplete or even invalid data within them. On the other hand, plans are made on an operational inventory, which treats invalid data as errors. To cope with this dual-opposing assumption, Comarch Inventory employs multilevel validation; a configurable set of check-rules reporting issues depending on the network context (operational, planning, strategic).

Controlling the network… Controlling a network, consisting of thousands of network elements, from different vendors, in a consistent way is only possible using umbrella systems. Such systems employ dedicated mediators for particular network element types. This seems like the perfect solution, yet to be so, another level of abstraction is needed. Furthermore, bringing all the mediators under the hut is surely cost-effective, but it doesn’t necessarily resolve the problem of many vendor-specific configurations. In the case of Comarch Reconciliation and Provisioning & Configuration Management, it does. These

Inventory management system revisited This paper highlights that we can no longer refer to an inventory management system as a slightly more intelligent database for network element configurations. The bleeding edge inventory system is merely an organism of perfectly connected components, building a data ecosystem. This is especially valid in the context of upcoming LTE deployments which, to fully exploit their features, will require powerful Operation Support Systems.

Comarch Inventory employs multilevel validation; a configurable set of check-rules reporting issues depending on the network context (operational, planning, strategic).

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You should be able to define, manage, automate and optimize network and service processes, according to business and technical rules.


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Telcosphere blog

Unlimited data plans – disappearing into extinction? Many operators have already removed their offerings of unlimited mobile data plans, and replaced them with new plans that have a monthly data quota (in the case that the quota is exceeded by the subscriber, an additional fee is paid to the operator). The reason for the removal of such unlimited data plans, is because data service revenues are not covering the network investment and maintenance costs for handling the growing amount of traffic.

Pekka Valitalo

Comarch SA

BSS Market Analyst, Telecommunications Business Unit

While traffic expansion for mobile data services can reach 50% CAGR until the year 2014, the actual revenue growth from data services may only amount to 13% CAGR for the same time period (source: OVUM). The subscribers already used to the “freedom” of unlimited data plans may of course be annoyed by such a change (e.g. no more video streaming). Despite the fact that current contracts will not usually be affected (thus, existing customers still have the chance to benefit from limitless data usage until the end of the contract period), new subscribers will have the “privilege” of choosing a new, limited data plan, and will potentially have to change their usage habits. Introduction of a monthly data quota will also have an effect on the businesses of third party service providers. For example, streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify will suffer from the data caps, because subscribers will have to pay more attention to their mobile data usage. Of course, third party service providers can cooperate with the operators (e.g. video on-demand with guaranteed

bandwidth) via a revenue-sharing scenario, where the operator charges a specific fee from the service provider. On the other hand, the removal of unlimited data plans brings additional revenue opportunities for operators. Mobile data offerings can be customized, basing on individual subscriber habits. For example, expect to see the following types of promotions in the near future: “6 hours of smartphone web surfing for 10 EUR per month”, “Facebook-only mobile data services for 5 EUR per month” and “2 hours of YouTube viewing (with high bandwidth and no latency) for 8 EUR per month”. These examples can be offered as an add-on service, or as an individual data service. A customer may only be interested in using his smartphone for updating his Facebook status, as opposed to using it for visiting other websites too. Are you willing to pay extra for your favorite services? Will the removal of unlimited data plans affect your smartphone usage habits?

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Telcosphere blog

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Murphy’s Law in 21st century telecommunications A thought-provoking thing occurred during the TM Forum webinar I led last week on a cloud computing CRM solution. Both I and the other moderators were dialed-in to a conference bridge, each of us calling from a different country (the audience was connected via a live audio stream). When I finished my segment of the presentation, the other presenter started his part.

Pawel Lamik

After perhaps 30 or 40 seconds, his connection was lost. As this was a live event, I had to take over and continue with his slides until the end of the show. It was an exciting experience. Thank goodness I had reviewed the slides beforehand. Afterwards, I had an afterthought:

Murphy’s Law is alive and well – always be prepared for the least probable occurrence. Fight the thinking: it’s so unlikely to happen, not now, not today, not to me

21st century communications is great – take online meetings – people from different countries and time zones can gather, share thoughts and exchange ideas, without even leaving their desk. I do think, however, that the webinar formula should be developed and

made more interactive (as it stands, the typical webinar format is one-to-many communication, with questions from the audience posed via chat)

Alas, 21st century communications is still surprisingly far from being perfect. Connections are lost. Trust gets undermined. I’m not surprised webinar organizers conservatively require the call to be made on a fixed, non-VoIP phone, due to the required high reliability and extensive quality. Think about it when you have an important call to make Have you ever had a similar experience? What is your view on this matter?

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010

Comarch SA

CRM and Self Care Product Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit


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Telcosphere blog

Why doing your laundry can be a lot like talking on the phone

Krzysztof Kwiatkowski

Comarch SA

BSS Product Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

Companies representing the energy industry are focusing more and more on telecommunications, including us and the things we do. One might think that our industry fascinates them, because as their sector develops, they begin to see similarities between their own business and the world of telecommunications. You may be wondering: how does voice even remotely relate to electricity? Where are the similarities?

Yet there are many. Even if you are not currently able to see them very clearly, they may well soon emerge. We all realize how vast the industry related to production, transmission and retail of electrical energy is. Everybody both benefits from and pays for it. Sometimes these bills are higher than those you receive from your telecom operator.

We turn on the light or the TV and everything works. The electrical meter rotates more quickly or slowly, yet we do not analyze it or view it as a complicated process. Beyond individual users, there are larger consumers of energy, such as factories, supermarkets and various others. Large enterprises do not use the same amount of energy all the time, either. All of this leads to the point that the

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Telcosphere blog

overall consumption of energy, on a nationwide scale, is highly changeable. One day it may increase, and the next decrease. It also differs from one time of the day to another. However, power plants produce energy relatively steadily, and turning its individual grids on and off is in fact complicated and costly. Therefore, there are some attempts to predict energy consumption for the following day. Various factors are taken into account, even the weather forecasts. It’s quite obvious - when the weather is cloudy or it rains, people turn the lights on, when it is hot, they turn on the air conditioning. Nonetheless, there are always some shortages or surpluses of energy on the market. Both cause enormous losses, because the surplus of electrical energy cannot be cumulated and used when faced with shortages. Furthermore, gigantic batteries do not exist. This leads on to the concept that scientists are currently working on entitled “smart grids”. These are somewhat substantial revolutionary measures for the entire system of transmitting and receiving energy, which I will not describe in detail. For many energy recipients in Europe, the first perceptible symptom of introducing smart grids is the exchange of electrical meters for so called smart meters. These are electrical meters that measure the usage of energy at a given moment, and then send this information to a central device. As a result, people or companies are able to pay for energy usage according to their exact consumption (as opposed to the current situation – according to certain annual estimates). Also, it will enable the diversification of energy prices depending on the time of day.

to use it during the working week. How it will actually affect the balancing of energy usage remains to be seen. There is one more thing, however. The second similarity lies in the introduction of new regulations for the energy industry by the EU. It creates clear segmentation into energy manufacturers, energy network operators and energy suppliers, who sell energy. When discussing the similarity to the world of telecommunications, I was referring to the latter. Energy suppliers purchase energy from the manufacturers and transmit it via a “rented” network. The deregulation means that new suppliers can be established freely, and can compete with each other on the common market. There is a similarity here, as deregulation of the telecom market led to increased competition among operators, also. It would be fairly difficult to convince someone that “our electricity is better”. The main factor will be the price; or rather its adjustment to our individual needs through special offers/discounts, or weekend and evening rates etc. When this finally happens, the offers of energy suppliers may well become more comparable to those of telecom operators, will come in packages and will be customized to consumers’ needs. Perhaps one day we will receive free energy minutes for doing our laundry at the weekend? Almost everything that goes on in relation to formulating private and corporate offers in telecommunications is closely monitored by energy suppliers. How the market will develop and how we will pay for energy usage, will depend on development in each country, individually.

And it is here where the first similarity to the telecommunications world is visible. Have you ever wondered why operators never offer “cheap Wednesday” tariffs, whilst they do advertise “cheap weekends” or “cheap evenings”? Initially, this was due to the fact that the network was not being used by large companies at these times, meaning they could be offered to private customers – and at the same time it encouraged them to use the network at these specific times more frequently than during the day. Further down the line, network usage problems were no longer a problem and it evolved into a purely marketing-driven activity. I mean, who would decide to go for a tariff with “cheap Wednesdays”? Introducing this novel means of measuring energy usage could render it possible (through the diversification of prices) to encourage people to e.g. do their washing at the weekend and save energy during the week, thus allowing companies

For example, in Italy, smart metering has been working for some time now for the majority of the population, with an energy provider capable of remotely turning the power on and off for the customer, detecting service outage or unauthorized usage of electricity, setting the maximum amount of energy that the customer may consume at any time, and remotely switching price plans between credit, prepaid, flat-rate and others. Doesn’t it remind you of the telecommunications sphere? In addition, similarities are also visible in the technologies employed, for example, the idea to use telecommunications signaling (SIP, to be specific) as “signaling for electricity”. These are, in fact, not only ideas – there are numerous studies on this topic and a vast array of real cases. However, there are technical issues that require discussion elsewhere.

Telco Sphere blog - a place to share ideas on the developments in the telecom world: telcosphere.comarch.com

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Technology & Innovation

Performance in action ustomers require a better quality of software. They also need improved performance of business processes. High availability is a standard requirement. It calls for more and more testing. How do you perform increased testing in a more diversified test environment?

This is true. However, we are obliged to search for the most effective method of system testing, every day.

For Comarch, it is of paramount importance to provide bugfree software to its customers. Any qualified specialist in the software testing industry could tell you that this is impossible without increasing the costs of testing to the highest level.

The tests performed on the Linux platform, incur the following conclusions:

C

Sylwester Oskwarek

Comarch SA User Experience Manager, Business Development Center

It is highly important that the architecture of the Comarch BSS Suite platform allows scalability. However, it is also important to analyze the system periodically. When it is growing, new processes are designed and new functionalities are added, and the architects of the platform have to think about how to avoid degradation of performance. Comarch performs such monitoring and analyzes even the smallest changes to hardware configuration and the data model. Paweł Kasza Senior BSS Engineer Comarch

In July 2010, in accordance with this concept, Comarch ran a set of tests at the IBM Innovation Center, on the key elements of the Comarch BSS Suite platform.

Low-cost hardware suffices (and is ready for use on an enterprise level) for typical Tier 1 and Tier 2 communication service providers. The tested hardware configuration displayed a significant margin of performance • Tests were performed using low-cost servers, typical of most data centers currently operating: HS22 Blade Servers (2x X5570 processors) with Linux as an operating system. The servers were equipped with only 25% of possible RAM • The virtual storage used for testing was based on the IBM® XIV Storage System®, which was equipped with only 72 discs (180 discs being the possible maximum). Testing utilized only 15% of the maximum I/O performance available for this configuration

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The whole billing cycle (five substantial processes) was tested for 2, 5, 10 and 20 million postpaid subscribers. Process performance showcased linear scalability

Testing highlighted that excessive billing cycle processing (20 million subscribers) has no impact on the CRM system. The response times of the CRM screens for when the billing processes were running and were stopped, were identical

For 400 concurrent sessions, all average response times for the CRM screens were below 0.5 seconds (the results were irrespective of the number of subscribers in the database)

The performance of real-time charging did not indicate a dependence on the number of prepaid subscribers in the system, however it showcased linear scalability

One HS22 server (2x X5570 processors, 24GB RAM) sufficed for processing 5 million subscribers at a speed of 5200 transactions per second. To process more subscribers using the same performance, it was sufficient to extend RAM without changing the processors

The BHCA1 for real-time charging was 9.36 million How the tests were performed? Prior to testing at the IBM Innovation Center we ran a set of in-house tests. These indicated that an extremely low-cost solution, for 1 million subscribers, is possible using Comarch Convergent Billing and that the entire billing cycle, with PC-class computer, lasts no more than 24 hours. The solution is sufficient for most start-up operators.

when Comarch CRM for Telecoms is loaded by hundreds of concurrent users, whilst simultaneously rating the processes of tens of millions of subscribers’ when Comarch Convergent Billing is running. For testing, we defined a typical configuration of tariff plans with voice, SMS, MMS and data for both corporate and individual customers, including roaming and non-roaming events. We value the concept of the IBM Innovation Centers, which states: “Test with us, not on the customer”. We tested the Comarch BSS Suite platform with several different hardware configurations and levels of data in the databases. We also tested the high availability under the huge load of the system. For example, we tested crashing of the master server of Comarch Real Time Charging and switchover to the replica. Following the crash of the server, we measured the time required for system recovery. Also, after the restart, we tested the switchover from replica to master server again. During these tests, the replica was loaded continuously by thousands of transactions per second. The results were as expected. The master server was restarted and the thousands of calls were switched from replica to the master. When the tests ran within normal operation of the system incurred acceptable results, we started to measure system performance and scalability when the amount of data to be processed was increased. It is a common situation in the software industry that the performance of the system calibrated at the beginning decreases as the amount of data grows. The algorithms have to process more data, the functions in the systems are executed significantly more times, and the final result is that the system works more slowly. Therefore, this test is very important in a real life scenario.

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IBM Innovation Center (IIC) in Warsaw offers a wealth of resources including technical expertise, marketing and sales facilities and skills, access to IBM hardware and software, as well as training opportunities. Business partners and customers can visit IIC to host lead generation and sales closure meetings, collaborate with local IBM sales teams, IT consultants and industry subject matter experts, who are ready to provide hands-on support for the development projects. ibm.com/pl/iic

Tested platform: Comarch BSS Suite Tested elements of the platform:

It was very important for us to run the tests with complex architecture and configuration. We wanted to ensure for our customers that there is no impact on performance

Comarch Convergent Billing Comarch Real Time Charging

When the new version of the system is tested, it can be assumed with very high certainty that hidden problems will start to reveal themselves. A more diverse test environment increases the likelihood of their detection. Therefore, following our own testing at the Comarch Data Center we ran heavy load and performance tests at the IIC. The probability of finding a bug in Comarch Real Time Charging has to be decreased to an absolute minimum.

Comarch CRM for Telecoms Comarch’s engineers spent 6 weeks at the IBM Innovation Center running hundreds of tests. The support of the IBM hardware specialists was invaluable. Furthermore, all of the work carried out for the customer ensured the quality of the system, which guaranteed smoothness and performance management by parameters, thus minimizing the possibilities of over-scaled infrastructure.

Krzysztof Kwiatkowski Product Manager of the Comarch BSS Suite, Comarch 1

BHCA – Busy Hours Call Attempts

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Technology & Innovation

Improving the scalability of modern web-based software systems

owadays, the scalability of software systems, considered as their ability to handle growing amounts of work, is of great importance. Modern, web-based applications should often handle thousands of requests per second, and it’s impossible to achieve this throughput without rapidly-operating hardware and welldesigned systems with the ability to be enlarged. Methods of adding more hardware resources for use by applications, fall into two categories: improving one physical node by replacing a processor with the most rapid version and adding more memory (which is known as vertical scaling or scale-up) and augmenting more physical nodes to the system, or increasing the number of processors on every node (horizontal scaling or scale-out). Vertical scaling is highly limited (because of Moore’s law), so to achieve true scalability, the system must be designed to work on many physical machines with multiple processors. There are many concepts regarding how to cluster applications and allow them to grow in response to the greater demands of processing throughput. Some of them include scalable programming language, an event-driven concurrency model

N

Wojciech Durczyński

Comarch SA Software Developer, Telco BSS R&D

Vertical scaling is highly limited (because of Moore’s law), so to achieve true scalability, the system must be designed to work on many physical machines with multiple processors.

(actor model), distributed task execution and dispersed data storage.

Scala – a scalable language Scala is a modern, multi-paradigm programming language designed to ease the writing of highly-concurrent applications. It was created in 2001, by Martin Odersky, and its popularity among Java programmers is rising. Scala programs are compiled to Java classes, and run on JVM. Scala code can be invoked from Java and vice versa, which allows seamless integration of Scala modules in existing Java applications, and using well-known Java libraries in Scala. Scala was designed to express common programming patterns in a concise, elegant and type-safe way. It supports multiple inheritance (by using mixin classes – traits), has mechanisms for avoiding nulls, a great collections library, powerful implicit conversions and many other improvements. Also, Scala as a hybrid object-functional language, grants

IMDG Relational DB Application nodes

Application node

Non scalable architecture

Reverse proxy

scalable architecture

  Figure 1. Difference between the scalable and non-scalable architecture.

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Technology & Innovation

the ability to define functions as variables, pass functions to other functions as arguments, and to take advantage of pattern matching. All these features of Scala make programming easier, and allow for shorter and simpler code.

distributed databases allows storing petabytes of data on thousands of physical nodes, which is impossible to achieve with relational sql-based databases.

The concurrency model in Scala is based on Erlang’s actor model, which treats “actors” as the universal primitives of concurrent digital computation. “Actors” share no state information with each other. Instead, they communicate by exchanging immutable messages. By eliminating the need to synchronize access to shared, mutable states, it is far easier to write robust, concurrent applications.

In Memory Data Grids – extremely rapid data access

Akka – powerful actor model Another powerful implementation of the actor model is contained in Akka. Akka extends Scala’s actor model and allows for fine-tuning actors in a desirable manner. Some of the new additions that Akka provides include supervision of actors (restarting them in the case of failure), changing actors’ behavior in response to messages, and load balancing messages between actors grouped in a pool. Akka also enables creating remote actors transparently, and contains an implementation of Software Transactional Memory (STM) based on Multiverse. STM turns a Java heap into a transactional data set, and assures atomic and consistent modifications of it. Akka provides API in Scala and in Java, and so can be used successfully, even without Scala.

Distributed Databases – the best way of storing huge amounts of data If an application is written in a scalable and distributed format, usually one bottleneck remains - a database. Very often, all data is stored in one place (for example, in an Oracle database) and cannot be easily divided into unrelated pieces, mostly because of aggregated queries used in reporting. Even if the database server is extremely fast, it can’t process queries as quickly as distributed data storage would. To bypass this restriction some distributed databases were implemented. The most important of these are Cassandra (used by Facebook, open source), BigTable (based on the Google File System and used by Google, proprietary) and HBase (based on the Hadoop File System, open source). These databases are designed to work in a fail-safe manner, among many physical nodes, and using them significantly improves the scalability of applications. Distributed databases are usually non-sql databases, and provide a map-like interface for reading and writing data. They also commonly provide map-reduce implementations for fast aggregation queries involving all data. Using

Another solution enabling data distribution is In Memory Data Grids (IMDG). They are very similar to distributed databases, but hold the data in memory. This allows them to be extremely rapid, but restricts data size to the amount of RAM on all physical nodes that create an IMDG cluster. The most interesting distributed memory databases are Oracle Coherence (commercial), Hazelcast (open source) and JBoss Infinispan (open source). IMDG nodes can usually be embedded in an application, and do not require separate dedicated servers. Besides providing quick data access, IMDG often provides additional functionality. For example, Hazelcast provides the implementation of a distributed Executor Service, easy-to-use http session clustering, and encrypted communication between nodes.

Reverse Proxy – load balancing and security for web applications Last, but not least, for a solution that helps improving the scalability of web-based software systems a reverse proxy can be used. If the system is composed of many nodes, the proxy allows balancing the load between them, and automatically switches HTTP traffic to a different node when one goes down. This allows disabling certain application nodes, and upgrades them unnoticeably. Proxy also improves security by separating applications from the Internet, and providing numerous security improvements like: introducing HTTPS, recognition of SQL Injection, DoS and other popular attacks, access filtering based on IP or geographical location of the client, and many others. One of the most powerful reverse proxy implementations is embedded in the Apache Http Server (open source). There are other ways of improving the scalability of webbased applications, in addition to the aforementioned. Their usefulness depends on the chosen application model. For small, real-time web systems, considerable improvements include IMDG for improving data access speed, and a reverse proxy for heightening reliability. For large, multi-user systems with many physical nodes and high amounts of data, using a distributed database seems a wise choice. Scalable language and the actor model improve the readability and supportability of any application, and are undoubtedly recommended.

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If an application is written in a scalable and distributed format, usually one bottleneck remains – a database.

REFERENCES: Scala http://www.scala-lang. org/

Akka http://akkasource.org/

Apache Cassandra http://cassandra. apache.org/

HBase http://hbase.apache. org/

Google BigTable http://labs.google.com/ papers/bigtable.html

Hazelcast http://www.hazelcast. com/

JBoss Infinispan http://www.jboss.org/ infinispan/

Oracle Coherence http://www.oracle. com/us/products/ middleware/coherence/ index.html

Apache Http Server http://httpd.apache.org/


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COMMENTARY

Relation after Comarch BSS/CRM/OSS Workshops in Stockholm

Marcin Mizgalski

Comarch SA

Business Development Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit

Local workshops presenting a vendor’s portfolio and capabilities are a great supplement to global events such as trade shows or forums (like Mobile World Congress or Telemanagement World in Nice). Considering that global events limit the number of participants (usually targeting the CXO level, or being either too big or too general), the focus of presentations is often quite diversified. On the other hand, local events offer the possibility to invite engineers interested in a particular subject matter and provide a way to overcome logistical obstacles (meetings organized in an operator’s city, no travel restrictions). Workshops were organized for the first time on the Scandinavian market and took place in the spring of 2010 in Stockholm. The agenda, divided into two separate sessions (OSS on the first day and BSS/CRM on the second day), allowed Comarch to introduce its portfolio, focus on specific business cases and present how the design of particular modules can suit various business cases. Such an approach helped participants better understand the capabilities of our solutions, the experience of engineers, and allowed participants to consider new challenges and possibilities in the telecommunications market. This professional and technical focus involved participants in active discussions and served to help identify services for future elaboration.

From the OSS point of view, the most interesting technical issues for future discussions were related to comprehensive Next Generation Network & Service Management systems as well as the Service Assurance approach and QoS policies for mobile traffic. In turn, the BSS session exposed areas of interest such as Master Resource Management and Central Product Catalogue, solutions for supporting M2M business cases and Convergent CRM. Furthermore, attendance by customers using Comarch solutions and services was very helpful for the rest of the participants, as it gave them an opportunity to verify Comarch’s quality of cooperation with its business partners. The workshops in Scandinavia have certainly helped us to improve the processes involved in making such events more efficient and interesting for technical engineers. Such an approach is being continued this year in the DACH and Benelux regions. Following a positive feedback from participants, we will endeavor to organize a second edition of the workshops in Scandinavia next year.

Comarch Technology Review   02/2010


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The ideas and insights of Comarch experts that make us one of the industry’s thought leaders. Browse online the recent white papers, watch the webcasts and tune to our blog.

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Showing ROI on 3G investments

Service bundling Showing return on short-term investments

Migration to 4G/LTE

Cost reduction

your customers

Managing B2B partnerships

Increase ARPU

M2M

Mobile broadband

Managing new services

Dealing with excessive data consumption

Pricing

Dont’ lose focus on what is REALLY important – YOUR CUSTOMERS

The communications market is constantly changing – there are more and more areas in your business that require professional support. With 17 years of experience Comarch is able to help you answer the current challenges and address them with a solution that is best suited to a particular area. Our OSS/BSS systems have already helped many operators worldwide. We will assist you with managing all your business areas so you can stay focused on your customers.

COMARCH – solutions focused on customers telecom-solutions.comarch.com


Comarch Technology Review 2010 Fall edition