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TALKING HEADS ▼

Orga Systems’ CEO urges operators to join content-led eco-system

REVENUE ASSURANCE CSPs need to enhance their powers of analysis LTE WORLD SUMMIT Stop doing LTE trials and launch your networks! LEFT FIELD OPINION Policy, or policy Police? SAUDI TELECOM CASE STUDY System integration teaches ‘great respect’ for problem solvers

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DATA ROAMING Operators on the case as new EU rules take sting out of roaming

CLOCKING OFF! Grace Jones nearly makes it to Nice

Segmentation key to Roaming profits • Income-based Billing values customers’ time VP VIDEOS: Cutting Time to Market • Are Policy & Charging creating Personalisation? Event Previews & Reviews • Contract Hot List • Will Operators use SDM more?


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REVIEW: BILLING & OSS WORLD

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Ramez Younan, CEO of Orga Systems

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REVIEW: MANAGEMENT WORLD, NICE

Orga Systems – #1 choice for real-time charging and billing. As the pioneer of GSM billing, Orga Systems has gained highly qualified expertise in real-time charging and billing. Orga Systems focuses on real-time based solutions for customer billing and administration in mobile telecommunication services. It sets important milestones for the industry regularly to expand its leading position. Orga Systems’ high-performance database, InCore is claimed to be the fastest data technology worldwide with regards to access speed. Mobile operators need future-proof billing systems which offer clear service and cost benefits. The fully convergent real-time billing platform OPSC Gold guarantees their profitable future growth.

EDITOR’S COMMENT Operators face up to flat rate disaster.

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NEWS Company, Product, Contract and People News.

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CONTRACT HOT LIST Major contracts awarded globally.

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TALKING HEADS Ramez Younan, Orga Systems’ CEO, argues that operators need to get involved in the content-led eco-system.

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CASE STUDY: SAUDI TELECOM CO. Sid Hoosein tells Dan Baker how he learned great respect for problem-solving system integrators

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LEFT FIELD OPINION: POLICY Barbara Lancaster wonders why some CSPs are fixated on throttling customer usage of their networks.

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EXPERT OPINION: INCOME-BASED BILLING George Huitema and Doug Zone want operators to maximise margins by influencing end user behaviour.

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EVENT REVIEW: LTE WORLD SUMMIT Mark Dye hears operators at the recent summit being urged by TeliaSonera to stop doing LTE trials and launch their networks.

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LTE WORLD SUMMIT 24 Alcatel-Lucent proves to be one of the most vocal supporters of LTE. VIDEO REVIEW: POLICY CONTROL 25 Gareth Senior tells Jeremy Cowan how to optimise and personalise services. Watch the video at www.vanillaplus.com EXPERT OPINION: SUBSCRIBER DATA MANAGEMENT The effective use of SDM is now a business imperative, write Jonathan Downey and Steve Costello.

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EXPERT OPINION: REVENUE ASSURANCE Operators want to enhance their services through greater revenue intelligence, as Alon Aginsky tells VanillaPlus.

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REVENUE ASSURANCE As Steve Rogerson finds, there’s a greater focus than ever on plugging revenue leaks.

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REVIEW: BILLING & OSS WORLD Caroline Bloomer reports that the USA’s main billing event spread its net widely.

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VIDEO REVIEW: TIME TO MARKET Georgina Firth reports on VanillaPlus’s video interview with Dewi Thomas of MDS on aligning business processes with IT.

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WEBINAR PREVIEW The strategic value of content partnerships comes under the microscope. See the Free Webinar at www.vanillaplus.com

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EVENT PREVIEWS What’s On and Where to Go!

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REVIEW: MANAGEMENT WORLD, NICE The TM Forum meeting looks ahead but doesn’t neglect the ‘bread and butter’ issues. Jeremy Cowan reports from Nice.

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ROAMING MACH users meet in Rome to find, among other things, the key to greater roaming profits.

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EXPERT OPINION: ROAMING Is your data roaming service ready? David Knox tells us how operators are coping with user demands this summer.

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ROAMING Many operators are already on the case when it comes to meeting new EU regulations which cut the risk of ‘bill shock’.

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CLOCKING OFF! 50 An ‘almost appearance’ in Nice by Robin Gibb and Grace Jones has got George Malim thinking about the future of BSS and OSS.

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AT&T and O2 tackle flat-rate taboo as mobile sector takes control of its future, at last Well, we’ve been banging on about it for so long in VanillaPlus that our regular reader (bless you, wherever you are) must have thought that the record was stuck. Anyway, the introduction by O2 in the UK of tiered data plans for new and recurring customers, marks a transition from the ‘all-you-can-eat’ flat-rate data model. And it comes just eight days after AT&T’s announcement on June 2 of a two-tier pricing plan. Jeremy Cowan, Editor, VanillaPlus

O2’s CEO Ronan Dunne said: “We know that customers are looking for clarity in pricing as too many offers have clauses and catches which are not easy to understand. With the wide range of internet-based services now available on mobile devices we’re providing customers with generous, clear data bundles that give customers freedom. This enables us to provide a better overall experience for the vast majority of customers and to better manage demand.” According to Dunne, based on current usage patterns, 97% of O2 smartphone customers would not need to buy additional data allowances, as the lowest bundle (500Mb) provides at least 2.5 times the average O2 customer’s current use.

EDITORIAL ADVISORS

John Aalbers, chief executive, Volubill

Dan Baker, Research Director, Technology Research Institute

Martin Creaner, president, TM Forum

Andreas Freund, VP Marketing, Orga Systems GmbH

Louis Hall, chief executive, Cerillion Technologies

Barbara Lancaster, president, LTC International

Gaby Matsliach, general manager, BSS Product Line, Comverse

Pat McCarthy, VP of Global Marketing, Service Delivery Solutions, Telcordia

Simon Muderack, COO, Tribold

Andrew Taylor, CEO, Intec

Mac Taylor, CEO, The Moriana Group

Andrew Wyatt, head of Solutions Management, Subscriber Data Management, Nokia Siemens Networks

It’s been our job in recent years to urge operators to be brave and confront this evergrowing threat to their profits, while showing them the tools available to help build a more resilient and flexible business model. We are sure that this move will not only benefit the operators but – as Dunne points out – their customers too. Certainly, there’s no shortage of advice in this issue: have a look at our review of Management World in Nice (pages 41-43) which was dominated by the subject. As were the video interviews we conducted there and later in London (see pages 13-15, 25 and 38). When the news from O2 came through, Openet, who enable tiered services, told VanillaPlus: “Network operators need to put parameters in place so that all consumers receive the network performance guaranteed in their contracts. But for that to happen,” said their CMO, Mike Manzo, “they need to re-evaluate their pricing strategy.” The undesired side-effect of the iPhone’s success for both of these operators has been network under-capacity, falling service quality and heavy customer criticism. Either way, ATT and O2 UK now deserve credit for coming off the fence and confronting this taboo. I suspect this is a water-shed moment, and these operators will be watched closely by CFOs in mobile communications worldwide.

VanillaPlus is distributed free to selected named individuals in EMEA who meet the Publisher's terms of Circulation Control. If you would like to apply for a regular free copy supplied at the Publisher's discretion visit www.vanillaplus.com If you do not qualify for a free subscription, paid subscriptions can be obtained. Subscriptions for 6 issues cost £99.00 worldwide (or US$150 / EUR125) including post and packing. VanillaPlus magazine is published 6 times per year.

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Chris Yeadon, director of Product Marketing, LHS EDITOR & PUBLISHER Jeremy Cowan Tel: +44 (0) 1420 588638 editorial@vanillaplus.com

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IBM enhances its cloud portfolio with the acquisition of Cast Iron Systems IBM (NYSE: IBM) has acquired Cast Iron Systems to extend its delivery of cloud computing services. Cast Iron Systems, a privately held company based in Mountain View, California, offers cloud integration software, appliances and services. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition expands IBMʼs business process and integration software portfolio, which grew more than 20% in the first quarter of 2010. Cast Iron Systems has completed thousands of cloud integrations around the world for financial institutions, media and entertainment companies and retail organisations, including Allianz, NEC, Dow Jones, Schumacher Group, ShoreTel, and Time Warner. Companies need to reduce complexity and cost in order to increase their

business agility. So, many organisations are accessing key business applications through Software as a Service (SaaS) models and cloud deployments. IBM expects the global cloud computing market to grow at a compounded annual rate of 28% from US$47 billion in 2008 to $126 billion by 2012. A challenge businesses face in adopting cloud delivery models is integrating the disparate systems running in their data centres with new cloud-based applications. In the past, this involved time-consuming and resource-draining coding work. IBM is gaining the ability to help businesses rapidly integrate their cloud-based applications and onpremise systems, and helping enterprises to blend data from onpremise applications with public and private cloud systems.

Camiant and Blueslice deal on policy and SDM overtaken as Tekelec buys both for US$165m North Carolina-based session and mobile data management systems provider, Tekelec, has acquired two companies: policy control system specialist, Camiant and subscriber data management (SDM) Frank Plastina, company, Blueslice Tekelec: Scaling Networks. In cash intelligence deals, Camiant has layer of all-IP been bought for networks US$130 million and Blueslice for $35 million. The acquired companies had announced a partnership deal at Mobile World Congress.

company was founded in 2001 and employs 50 people.

Camiant, a global provider of policy control systems, has 30 fixed and mobile broadband customers worldwide, including Verizon, Vodafone, Sprint, Comcast and Cox Communications. Founded in 2003 in Massachusetts, the privately held company has more than 100 employees.

Frank Plastina, President and CEO of Tekelec, commented: “Tekelec is now the only player in the industry with a portfolio solely focused on scaling the intelligence layer of all-IP networks. Camiant’s and Blueslice’s histories of innovation, market leadership, and software-centric business models enhance our ability to enable service providers to manage network complexity and enhance the user experience.”

Blueslice’s evolved SDM systems are deployed with 19 customers worldwide. The privately held Montreal-based

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Tekelec has more than 300 customers in over 100 countries. It claims it will now be the only company combining session, policy, subscriber data management, network and business intelligence, and mobile messaging. The company aims to provide a layer of intelligence that gives service providers new real-time abilities to manage their networks based on dynamic policy control, unified subscriber profiles, and session management, including network routing data. These capabilities will enable service providers to deliver high quality and differentiated broadband data services.

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Clarity and Omnix Software are merged by Powerlan The business and assets of Omnix Software are being brought under the brand of Clarity, a provider of unified telecoms operational management systems. The merger will enable Clarity to deliver network planning functionality, as well as infrastructure and estates management, as part of its unified OSS. The change also provides Clarity with a stronger foothold in the European market, while promoting the Omnix product to Clarity’s existing international customer base. Clarity and Omnix are both part of Powerlan, an Australian public company providing specialist IT products and services. Omnix Software helps telcos to plan, launch and manage their networks. Headquartered in Bristol, UK, Omnix customers include Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica O2. Clarity manages over 250 million subscribers globally, simplifying telcos’ operational complexity by delivering a unified, yet modularly open system that supports industry best practice, customers' selfservice, unified catalogue, order management, revenue management, inventory, fulfilment and assurance. Mutina purchase gives Empirix mobile network monitoring capabilities Empirix Inc., a Massachusetts-based provider of service quality assurance systems for new IP communications, has acquired privately held Mutina Technology S.p.A., an Italian monitoring surveillance and analysis technologies provider for mobile broadband, next generation networks (NGN), SS7/Sigtran Signaling, VoD/IPTV, and IP Core for telecom and enterprise networks. Since 1992, Empirix has been active in IP testing and application performance management. Its Hammer Test Engine™, features patented technology for validating the quality of IP networks, systems and applications. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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Infrastructure as a Service used by Interoute to give firms more freedom Interoute, owneroperator of what it bills as Europe’s largest next generation network, is breaking with convention by enabling businesses to buy their ICT infrastructure as a service. With the launch of its Unified Gareth Connectivity offering, Williams, Interoute says it is Interoute: Helping to providing businesses better manage with the flexibility to ICT change move, add and change their connectivity services at any time without penalty. “The notion that enterprises can accurately predict what their IT infrastructure needs will be in five years, is unrealistic. Yet, this is exactly what the traditional telecoms model expects enterprises to do,” said Gareth Williams, CEO at Interoute. “In the same way that the arrival of a common operating system and platform brought flexibility and freedom to computing needs, Unified Connectivity brings the same agility to the network. Our approach with Unified Connectivity is to help businesses better manage ICT change. This is innovation to save the enterprise money through simplicity, rather than costing it more through adding complexity,” he added. Unified Connectivity combines previously disparate networking technologies, such as Ethernet and MPLS VPN over any local access technology, from xDSL to Ethernet. This means that businesses can choose from four to eight connectivity services, with any combination of Ethernet (VPLS), VPN (MPLS) or internet access. Unified Connectivity is enabled through an approach to service creation that pushes MPLS – normally only found at the core of a service provider network – out to the office.

Alcatel-Lucent and Tech Mahindra partner with Convergys, Microsoft for Smart Communications Convergys Corporation has announced that Alcatel-Lucent and Tech Mahindra are the first systems integration partners for ‘Convergys Smart Communications Suite powered by Morag Lucey, Microsoft’. The Convergys: partners are creating a More partners technology ecosoon system for what is said to be the first preintegrated and pre-configured billing and customer care platform for communication service providers (CSPs) and utilities.

Terry McGuigan, Microsoft: Growth in tier 2s and 3s

consultancy, Tech Mahindra serves CSPs, equipment manufacturers, and software vendors. Alcatel-Lucent and Tech Mahindra will offer deployment services to their clients worldwide. Convergys is also working with HP as the preferred hardware partner for the Convergys Smart Communications Suite powered by Microsoft. The suite, which is still under development, aims to provide a comprehensive next-generation business support system (BSS) to improve customer experience. It combines Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 with the modular BSS capabilities of Convergys. Morag Lucey, Global VP Product Management and Marketing at Convergys, told VanillaPlus: “Both (Alcatel-Lucent and Tech Mahindra) are already partners of ours. Others are to be announced soon.”

Alcatel-Lucent provides system integration capabilities leveraging its network expertise and worldwide IP Transformation labs, enabling tier 2 and tier 3 operators to quickly introduce new services and billing plans into the market. A global systems integrator and business transformation

Microsoft’s Terry McGuigan, added: “Growth is in tier 2s and 3s outside North America. This gives us the opportunity to bring an enterprise solution to market for tier 2s and 3s at an affordable price point. We don’t have to do a ‘rip and replace’, you can just add a product catalogue and operators can add next generation components. If the billing works why replace it; you need to build around it with our partnership.”

DAX Technologies launches InTouch to improve communications customers’ experience DAX Technologies of Matawan, New Jersey, USA, has launched its InTouchTM Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution. Designed for mobile operators and other CSPs, InTouch is a modular technology suite providing current situational and stored historical data, detailed analysis, and proactive remediation recommendations for customer service experience issues.

struggling to maintain acceptable service quality levels due to convergence-related complexities and fragmented problem resolution processes, says DAX. Said a spokesman, “With CEM technologies like InTouch in play, CSPs can achieve a more granular level of control and faster, realtime response to all levels of experience issues such as signal drops, failed data sessions, and dual-mode service handoff, providing customers with a higher level of service quality and minimising churn risk.”

As voice and data convergence accelerates, legacy networks are

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MetraNet 6.1 delivers business configurability and more interactive self-care, says MetraTech

Scott Swartz, MetraTech: Giving customers ‘room to grow’

MetraTech Corp, the charging, billing, settlement and customer care provider, has released MetraNet™ 6.1. This version of its awardwinning product is said to deliver Dynamic Business Modelling capabilities that create a strategic advantage for enterprises in industries with rapidly evolving business models including cloud, smart grid, financial services, media and entertainment and telecoms.

The new release introduces MetraView Active Customer Self-Care, allowing customers to interact more easily with their invoices, statements and account structure. MetraNet 6.1 also introduces a new capability for more

rapid and synchronised configuration via Business Modelling Entities. Both of these new assets help users to meet customisation needs more quickly, especially those of large enterprise accounts, without compromising performance or scalability. “The online customer experience is an area of intense focus for PGi,” said R Scott Harris, Vice President Global Online, PGi. “We are pleased to see that MetraTech has a similar point of view and created a new level of flexibility and Web 2.0 look-and-feel in MetraView as part of this release.” “MetraNet is the ultimate answer to an organisation’s need for ‘room to grow’,” said Scott Swartz, CEO of MetraTech Corp. “Businesses need to be able to expand their markets, innovate their business models and flexibly respond to their customers’ changing needs without being hemmed in by their billing system.”

Openet launches business intelligence and analytics practice with Netezza Openet has announced a new business intelligence and analytics practice, supported by a relationship with Netezza, a global provider of data warehousing appliances. The Business Intelligence and Analytics Practice will Mike Manzo, provide Openet’s Openet: communication service Actionable, provider (CSP) and cable end-to-end information operator customers with both productised and custom business intelligence systems, including data models, reporting development and data integration. This extends Openet’s Subscriber Data Management (SDM) solution architecture capabilities, already announced. Deeper subscriber and service consumption insight is intended to be a key result of Openet’s SDM system architecture. Until now, Openet provided an ingredient of this architecture – the ability to collect and

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process data using its mediation software product. However, Openet’s Business Intelligence and Analytics capabilities combined with the Netezza® TwinFin™ data warehouse appliance, completes the systems. The combination enables operators to gain greater visibility across multiple parts of their organisation with reports and analytics tied to specific business issues such as audience measurement, marketing promotions, subscriber loyalty, revenue assurance and network resource usage and congestion. “The launch of Openet’s Business Intelligence and Analytics Practice means that our customers now have access to actionable, end-to-end information, bringing transactional intelligence to a new level,” said Mike Manzo, CMO of Openet. “As telco and cable operators face unique challenges with storing, synching and leveraging their data, it was critical to offer these capabilities in addition to our existing solutions. By working with Netezza, we’re able to fill a significant gap in the market and bring our customers tangible business value.”

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Expand Networks redefines the WAN optimisation business model for telcos Roseland, New Jersey-based Expand Networks, specialists in WAN optimisation for branch office consolidation and virtualisation, has launched an innovative pricing structure for service providers, telcos and public/private cloud providers. The new business model enables customers to procure its WAN optimisation system on a monthly subscription-based ‘pay-asyou-sell’ basis. The new pricing model shifts costs from CapEx to OpEx and is said to deliver profitable recurring revenue streams immediately. The subscription cost covers all infrastructure requirements: Accelerators; licensing; management and maintenance, and is charged on a quarterly basis over a 2 – 5 year contract term. Expand claims to be the only WAN optimisation vendor offering this pricing structure. It enables service providers to: • Choose their own infrastructure – as much as is needed, when its needed • Choose their licensing, management and maintenance requirements • Pay only when their customers come on board • Pay bills on a quarterly subscription basis • Choose the contract term (2 – 5 years) • Gain immediate profitable recurring revenue streams Jim Metzler, analyst at Ashton, Metzler & Associates comments, “We often hear the phrase ‘virtualisation changes everything’. Usually it refers to how virtualisation fundamentally changes how IT organisations provide computer resources or support desktops. This announcement broadens the use of that phrase to include the fact that virtualisation also fundamentally changes how service providers, telcos and cloud providers will acquire WAN optimisation solutions.”

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On the shoulders of giants... Unleash the Vision of Single Sourcing with Dedicated eBilling Solutions

The MNC guide to telecoms single sourcing How can MNCs benefit from sourcing global telecoms from a single provider? And how can telecoms providers use this to their advantage? Single provider status allows telecoms companies to use management systems to improve their service and maximise margins, whilst at the same time unburdening their clients of telecom management responsibility. At the forefront of Telco eBilling & analysis solutions for over 20 years, CTI Group has a customer base that includes many of the Tier 1 & 2 service providers. Because we work with some of the biggest players in the game, it has given us the view from the higher ground of what is demanded from MNCs in an ever shrinking world. Because we would like to share this expertise with you, the company has produced a white paper outlining the huge benefits single sourcing has to offer both telecoms providers and their MNC customers.

For answers to the above questions and more, “The MNC Guide to Telecoms Single Sourcing” white paper is available for you, exclusively, at www.ctigroup.com.

www.ctigroup.com | +44 (0) 800 0925 835 | info@ctigroup.com


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Finland’s DNA implements Comptel Policy Control to combat ‘bill shock’ Finnish communications service provider, DNA Ltd has implemented Comptel Policy Control from Comptel Corporation. DNA offers voice call, data, mobile and digital TV services. In 2009, half of Finland's population used DNA's mobile, internet or cable services, and the operator now has a third of Finland’s mobile broadband market. The deployment enables customers to limit their spending on data services while roaming abroad, reducing the risk of unexpectedly large bills. EU rules say that, from July 1, all operators must be able to offer their customers a ‘cut-off limit' to specify in advance a maximum financial limit for their outstanding charges for regulated data roaming. To ensure this, DNA chose Comptel Roaming Cost Control, an application of Comptel Policy Control, to help monitor subscribers' balances in real time. It then triggers the necessary actions, such as a notification or suspension of the services.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Comptel Roaming Cost Control allows subscribers to use data services abroad without risking unexpectedly high bills, while reducing the risk for service providers of bad debt, non-payment and negative publicity resulting from subscribers' overuse of the roaming services. The solution is built around Comptel Policy Control, which enables users of mobile and fixed broadband services to manage their usage and encourages the uptake of these offerings through service personalisation. "With Comptel Roaming Cost Control, DNA can turn the new EU legislation, which might have been seen as a restriction on its business, into a positive investment," said Simo Sääskilahti, Comptel’s Senior Vice President, Products and Solutions, and Deputy CEO. The project is one of five policy control licences sold by Comptel in the last six months.

US Defense Information Systems Agency chooses Telcordia IP Assure Telcordia® IP Assure has been selected by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to address security, availability and regulatory compliance issues across diverse, large scale IP networks that connect US and international government agencies. IP Assure aims to rapidly identify where network problems exist, cut mean time to repair (MTTR) by orders of magnitude and address critical security needs.

President, Advanced Technology Solutions, Telcordia. “IP Assure provides complete IP network awareness that will improve network security, eliminate single points of failure and significantly reduce network configuration management costs.”

A DISA spokesman said: “Only [Telcordia] produced an advanced concept product to address the synthesis and debugging problems of the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) network. Many tools exist that can perform parts of configuration analysis, but software developed by Telcordia is the only software to perform this function from disparate network devices, compare the configurations to implementation policy, and also propose solutions to fix the identified errors.”

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HP has announced a broad set of telecom systems designed to help communication service providers (CSPs) transform network operations to reduce complexity, lower costs and deliver a better customer experience. The company has also disclosed that three CSPs have recently selected solutions from the HP Next Generation Operations Support Systems (HP NGOSS) portfolio. By improving the way services are ordered, provisioned and activated, and the way they are managed to meet customer expectations, CSPs can reduce costs and complexity, and ultimately, improve the customer experience. With the expanded portfolio, HP now provides CSPs with a single source for both fulfilment and assurance, enabling them to transform their OSS environments more quickly and cost-effectively. Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL), a provider of fixed voice and data services, has worked with HP and Huawei to consolidate operations into a central network operations centre and three regional centres. Huawei provided a turnkey solution using all HP products for fault management, trouble ticketing and performance management. The other customers are Wind, Italy’s second largest CSP, which has deployed HP Operations Manager and HP Network Node Manager to transform the customer experience, and Vivo, Brazil’s largest mobile operator. Vivo has deployed HP Unified Correlation Analyzer and upgraded HP TeMIP fault management.

“IP network equipment, policies and conditions change constantly, which leads to configuration errors that contribute to more than 60% of cyber attacks and downtime, and places critical importance on the need to ensure that networks are secure, compliant and available,” said Adam Drobot, CTO and

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US soldiers are supported by DISA which has placed an order for Telcordia’s IP Assure.

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The new solutions in the HP NGOSS portfolio are: HP Universal SLA Manager, HP Problem Management, HP Unified Topology Manager, and HP Performance Management. These solutions are complemented by enhancements to the core fulfilment and assurance portfolio.

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Lodewijk Cornelis, MACH’s CMO, dies on holiday It is with great sadness that we report the sudden death of Lodewijk Cornelis, MACH’s Chief Marketing Officer. Lodewijk leaves behind his wife and young child. A well-known and respected figure in the mobile communications industry and a loving husband and father, he died in a cycling accident while on holiday with his family.

“Our thoughts are with Lodewijk’s family at this sad time,” said Guy Dubois, President and CEO of MACH. “Lodewijk was a unique and special person who loved life to the full, both in the business environment and in his personal life. His limitless energy and shining spirit shone through in all that he did. His tremendous visionary aptitude was admired by all at MACH. I will personally miss him greatly.” Lodewijk had extensive experience of the telecom industry, starting out in MACH in 1995 as Sales Manager and rising to become Director of Sales & Marketing and Director of Strategy in 2005. He took a one-year sabbatical and then set up his own company in the Wi-Fi roaming arena. Lodewijk was Head of Sales & Marketing for Cibernet from January 2006 until the merger with MACH, where he returned to take on the role of Chief Marketing Officer. He also undertook humanitarian work for a year in South America and South East Asia. Lodewijk will be sadly missed by his family and all his friends at MACH, to whom everyone at VanillaPlus extends their condolences.

Ryan is the new COO at i-conX Interconnect billing vendor, i-conX solutions has promoted Ger Ryan as its new Chief Operations Officer (COO). Ger, who has worked at i-conX since 2005, previously held the position of Senior Business Analyst at the Dublinbased software house. He assumes the Ger Ryan COO role following the promotion of Brendan Rogan to CEO in February 2009. Ger will lead the customer service, software development and IT, and ASP infrastructure teams based in Dublin. Prior to joining i-conX, Ger held key positions within the interconnect billing domain, variously working for blue chip telcos, system vendors, and in consultancy. He designed and implemented a major information systems strategy for UK cable broadband provider, Telewest,

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before joining leading UK telecoms consultancy firm Cartesian in 2004. Here he designed and developed a new interconnect billing solution for international carrier Cable & Wireless, delivering a single harmonised system to the group.

Hossein Moiin joins NSN in new CTO role Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has appointed Hossein Moiin as its Chief Technology Officer. He will report to the company’s CEO, Rajeev Suri. Hossein is currently responsible for mobile technology and architecture at BT. Hossein Moiin

The new role of CTO was created by NSN following its reorganisation in November 2009 and the elimination of the COO role from January 2010. The CTO will be responsible for developing and advocating the company’s technology strategy, R&D and long-term views on network architecture. Hossein has worked in Europe, Asia, and the United States during his career. Prior to BT, he held positions with T-Mobile including Group Vice President for Technical Strategy and Chief Architect. Moiin was also Chief Technologist for the Network Service Provider Group at Sun Microsystems. Moiin has a PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of California and is married with two children. He holds both Iranian and Italian citizenship and is moving to Finland to be based out of the company’s headquarters in Espoo.

cVidya appoints Ron Halpern as Executive VP, Global Sales cVidya Networks, a global provider of revenue intelligence systems for telecom, media and entertainment service providers, has appointed Ron Halpern as Executive Vice President of Global Sales. Ron has over 20 years of experience in senior and executive sales management roles in the telecoms and software industries worldwide. Alon Aginsky, President and CEO of cVidya, said: “Ron Halpern has previously been responsible for generating significant sales and profit growth and has built and managed teams in start-up environments and established companies alike.” Prior to joining cVidya Ron held executive and senior management roles in companies such as Genband, Amdocs and Orckit Communications.

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Take Charge of Your Services!

Policy Control & Charging


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VanillaPlus Hot List: June/July 2010 The Hot List below shows the companies informing us of recent contract wins or product deployments. If your contract is not listed here email the details to us now marked "Hot List" <editorial@vanillaplus.com> Vendor(s) 4th Screen Advertising Acision Acision Airwide Aspiro Astellia Bluestreak Technology Cellebrite Cerillion Technologies Comverse Convergys Corp Easynet Envivio Evolving Systems Huawei InfoVista InfoVista Intec Ipanema Ixia Kcom NEC NetCracker NetEvidence NewBay Nokia Siemens Networks Nokia Siemens Networks Nokia Siemens Networks On Demand Group Ontology Systems Redknee Redknee Redknee Synchronica Synchronica Syniverse Technologies Telcordia Telcordia Telcordia Telepin Telmap Telmap Telsis Volubill Volubill

Client, Country

Product / Service (Duration & Value)

Deployed

Global Radio, UK Signs exclusive mobile advertising deal for advertising banners, audio ads & sponsorships Vimpelcom, Russia Extends 6-year relationship to provide range of enhanced mobile data services KPN Group, Belgium Product suite rollout to manage mobile data traffic flow and address network performance Cricket Communications, USA Upgrade to messaging architecture to include subscriber protection from spam Finn.no, Norway Micropayment agreement signed to process all telephone payments made for ads Unnamed Operators, Middle East Multiple deployments of probe-based monitoring and VIP Care customer centric products Bouygues Telecom, France MachBlue platform to power new Flash based IPTV interface Telefonica O2, Germany Handset memory transfer and back-up product available in 1,000 O2 retail outlets Columbus Communications, USA 5-year deal to supply convergent CRM & Billing to support operations in Curacao Vodacom, South Africa First national launch of visual voice-mail with messages delivered to iPhone inbox Premier Technologies, APAC Customer contact centre provider becomes first Australia-based Convergys reseller TfL, London, UK 10-year contract to modernise the city's transport CCTV infrastructure Portugal Telecom, Portugal Three Screens delivery platform selected to underpin new internet TV service Unnamed Operator, Brazil Dynamic SIM Allocation product to streamline SIM card supply chain logistics Safaricom, Kenya Deployment of next-generation advanced telecom computing architecture mobile softswitch Telkom, South Africa Operator uses InfoVista for optimal bandwidth requirement management for World Cup EnergyAustralia, Australia Dual product deployment to automate performance monitoring and service level assurance Batelco, Bahrain Products selected to support the operator's communications enhancement programme SGS, Switzerland Implementation of bandwidth consolidation and network management products Deutsche Telekom, Germany New partnership to test a 100Gbps network link, which will ultimately analyse line rate traffic Daisy Group, UK 3-year contract to provide inbound call handling and routing services M4AL, Albania Selected as sole-supplier to build new nationwide mobile transport network, over 4 years DiGi Telecoms, Malaysia Network Inventory Management system implentation to underpin 3G network roll-out SciVisum, UK Highlight tool installed to deliver real-time visibility of networks and applications Telstra, Australia Operator's new networking service supplied by LifeCache Social Networking Gateway Qtel, Qatar Single RAN and Flexi Multiradio Base Station offering to increase network capacity Vodafone Hutchison, Australia 7-year service management and core network equipment supply agreement signed Espoo, Finland Application of Quality of Service differentiation system SFR Neuf, France New TV subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) movie service launched Telenor Denmark, Denmark Implementation of OSS/CAD for Service Management TelBru, Brunei Upgrade to the latest release of InBill product Unnamed Operator, EMEA Data monetisation platform to enable tier 1 CSP to launch MVNO in EMEA Telfort, Netherlands IP Charging Gateway product enables operator to meet EU 'bill shock' regulations Unnamed Operator, Panama Mobile Gateway deployment to 1.6m subscribers at a US$4.56 perpetual licence fee per user Unnamed Operator, Argentina Mobile Gateway to deliver a push email and synchronisation service to 13m subscribers Safaricom, Kenya Range of roaming, messaging and network products to be deployed Telekom Slovenije, Slovenia NGOSS product rollout, including Telcordia Network Engineer and Granite Inventory DISA, USA Telcordia IP Assure to address regulatory compliance issues on government IP networks TSTT, Trinidad & Tobago Automated fulfilment system to improve inventory visibility and the order-to-cash cycle MATTEL, Mauritania Completes implementation of multiple mobile payment platforms MTS, Russia White-labelled mapping product to be offered to subscribers as MTS Navigator by end of Q3 Pelephone, Israel World's first personalised location companion product, Telmap5, launched Movistar, Spain Deploys new Telsis SMS Wizard, natural language text query & response system Movistar, Venezuela CHARGE-IT and CONTROL-IT policy management system implementations Network Norway, Norway CONTROL-IT product chosen by operator to comply with EU's new data roaming regulations

t ith en m W end fro RI T p s de si r, In aly ake An n B Da

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“CSPs need to capitalise on the huge increase in data services without increasing the network cost.” - Ramez Younan, Orga Systems

Orga Systems’ CEO urges operators to join the content-led eco-system In every market there is a finite number of customers. So sooner or later every operator has to switch from a focus on customer acquisition to a focus on optimising services and profitability. With this in mind, VanillaPlus has been talking to Ramez Younan, the CEO of Orga Systems. He holds degrees in Engineering, Management and Business Administration and, in his previous post, spent time developing Oracle’s telecoms strategy. Born in Egypt, he speaks four languages and now lives with his family in Germany. subscribers that need to be acquired beyond 4.6 billion out of 5.5 billion worldwide. To achieve these revenues and associated growth in margin, there are three areas that operators need to focus on.

Ramez Younan: In the 1990s it was very easy for operators to grow through local market penetration and then in the early 2000s they went into mergers and acquisitions so that they could again grow their subscriber base, across borders. In some cases they found economies of scale or got access to roaming revenues. But these trends are practically over, apart from some acquisitions in Africa. But that leaves now the number of

One is to capitalise on the huge increase in data services without increasing the network cost. Second is the ability to identify their customers, and to provide one-to-one rather than mass offerings. And most importantly and strategically, how can they lead and drive other industries to get on to the machine-to-machine platform, rather than wait for each industry to define its path for itself?

Orga Systems’ CEO, Ramez Younan, talks to Jeremy Cowan, the Editor of VanillaPlus. See the video now at www.vanillaplus. com

VanillaPlus: Ramez, where do you think the greatest opportunities for growth in communications services lie; in consumer-led content delivery or in enterprise-led fixed and mobile applications?

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VP: Real-time charging and policy control are often simply seen as a means of managing bandwidth, which can have negative implications for customer care. But Orga Systems describes these together as ‘a key enabler’. Can you expand on this? RY: In the past it was seen as a (source of) dissatisfaction for the customer because you’re decreasing the bandwidth for one customer and increasing for another. The reality is that, in a couple of years’ time, the network costs will not be able to pay for the revenues coming from the data. Here’s the challenge that the operators have to do something about; they cannot continuously increase their network costs. So, they will have to differentiate the type of service or SLA for specific customers at a specific time. That is inevitable. The way to do it is not just to reduce the speed for a specific customer and provide it to another business customer without the ability for that affected customer to increase their speed. Where Orga Systems comes in is that we provide an integrated solution where you’re able to enforce the quality and speed of service through the network to a specific customer based on the tariff. But also we give the ‘harddone-by’ customers, the ability to have online charging in real time, so if they wish to download a movie or YouTube clip, not at the expense of the high end customers, then they can top-up online immediately on the mobile. Then they would get immediate access to that bandwidth again. That integration between the network and IT is something unique that Orga Systems provides. VP: How can operators break out of the flat-rate pricing cycle, tying them to low revenues and rising costs, and what role can subscriber management play? RY: I think the operators have led themselves into this. Nobody really asked them for a flat rate. But I think it’s more of the way they see themselves as providers of a pipe, a link to the network. I think that’s why this pricing became the most efficient; one, because they might not be able to calculate how much usage a person has, also because they have silos between postpaid and pre-paid. So, to move away from that you have to first identify your customers, you have to know which customer uses which service and at what rate. Also operators have been planning their future on the historical data that we have, which is not very accurate because now we have a new generation of subscribers – not like you or me with grey hair – they have been born with the internet, the mobile and Xbox. Their interaction with the device is much, much higher.

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Therefore (operators) need to do three things: One is put all their subscribers on one platform


“The architecture built for 10-15 million subscribers was rich in functionality, but was not very robust.” - Ramez Younan, Orga Systems

where they can measure what these customers need; number two is to develop a one-to-one relationship with the customer based on online, real-time offerings like Amazon who see the customers’ preferences; third is to go to those companies at the end of the pipe like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook, whose business model relies on that pipe and forge a partnership with them. Say, “Guys, you’re draining my pipe. I need help otherwise I’m not able to provide these speeds that your innovations require day by day.” These are the things that are extremely important for operators, to come out of the pipe and start to be part of the eco-system with the content-led services. VP: Service providers in mature markets need to be able to upscale to handle billing for up to 100 million subscribers. How are they responding, and what are you doing to support them? RY: Back in the 1990s operators decided to split their customers by how they pay – post-paid and pre-paid – for all sorts of good reasons at the time. Since then they have developed two parallel siloed systems. But to be able to grow you have to know your customers, so they need to combine those two on one platform, from a cost perspective, but also from customer care and revenue potential. Combining those two poses that question of scalability, and that comes with a caveat. The systems that were able to run post-paid only were for a small population – 10-15 million subscribers. So the architecture built for that volume was not very robust – or is still not very robust in most cases. It may be rich in functionality but incapable of handling 100 million subscribers. Billing systems coming from the pre-paid side didn’t need the high functionality because operators didn’t need to give much service to the customers, but the scalability was paramount. Now, trying to combine those two, there are a

very limited number of systems that can provide you with both scalability and also functionality. That’s where a lot of customers are converging their subscribers on our platform because they get both worlds, scalability and functionality. VP: Another hurdle for CSPs is achieving the flexibility to manage smart metering, and for billing and charging systems to interplay with different industries. How are you responding?

VanillaPlus Jargon Buster CSP = Communication Service Provider SLA = Service Level Agreement

RY: At Orga Systems, from a product point of view, we are ready for any of those industries because our architecture is based on events, multiplied by the number of use cases, multiplied by the number of tariffs. It’s unlimited. Add to it our scalability; it can scale to tens and hundreds of millions. The key thing here is the ability to provide the right process and business model for the design of that system. This is where the challenge actually is, Jeremy. The telecom industry has experience already that other industries don’t have yet. Smart meters have been expensive in the past, and that was a good excuse for utility operators and CSPs to have that conversation over who does what. But now that the cost has come down, mobile operators are not identifying themselves as real outsourcers of (smart metering), but are perhaps only interested in traffic. So I don’t think it’s only smart metering, it’s what happens after that smart meter. When that piece of data comes out of that smart meter, who does it go to? Does it go to the mobile operator to process, or does it go to the utility operator who will build an entire infrastructure to bill and monitor it? That complexity of business model has to be handled by both mobile operators and utility operators. We sit with both of them in a Round Table and we try to facilitate that discussion. From all the discussions we’ve seen, I think they need an incentive to be pushed in that direction. That can only happen from government assistance by giving them financial credits or taxation incentives, so that they can both lead that innovation for the benefit of the consumer.

Watch the full interview online at: www.vanillaplus.com

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Saudi system integration teaches ‘great respect’ for problem solvers Sid Hoosein, a programme/project manager for Tata Consultancy Services, recently worked on implementing a major B/OSS overhaul at Saudi Telecom Company (STC). Here he talks to Dan Baker of the Technology Research Institute (TRI). When you peer up at the stars on a moonless night, do you gaze up with wonder at the heavenly chaos? Or do you immediately do a visual google of the skies to spot the Big Dipper?

Sadique "Sid" Hoosein held various positions at Telcordia Technologies between 1986 and 2001. Since then he has consulted with or held positions in Amdocs, Convergys, Telarix, Ventraq (formerly Acecomm) and others.

It's a shame isn't it? We look first for the constellations, not the stars. Centuries of socially-inherited training have taught us what's there to "see". Now, when it comes to blindly following the mind's well-trodden paths, telecom analysts are as guilty as everybody else, and this includes a tendency to see the business and operations support systems (B/OSS) market from a software vendor's perspective. In fact, software and hardware – by themselves – shouldn't properly be called "systems" at all. For only when these tools are combined with smart people and wise business processes does a true B/OSS system really exist.

There are many reasons why the SIs don't have a strong public presence, including client confidentiality, competitive secrecy, poor marketing, and the difficulty of explaining a complex B/OSS engagement in an article. Hence this interview with Sid, who recently spent 15 months as a programme/project manager for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) implementing a major B/OSS overhaul at Saudi Telecom Company (STC). Sid's message is clear: implementing a large scale B/OSS is far more than getting your GUIs and XML tables right. About Saudi Telecom Company Dan Baker, TRI: What sent you to the Middle East? And tell us about STC. Sid Hoosein: Saudi Telecom Co., the dominant operator in Saudi Arabia has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years. In some ways it is very backward, in others it’s very advanced. Their operations are highly automated, but they are inflexible and in need of a major overhaul. TCS hired me to live in Saudi Arabia and assist the local SI team as their Director of Business

And this is precisely where systems integrators (SIs) step in to perform their magic. Yet, when you look at telecom publications, conferences, and other media, SIs don't get much coverage. Which prompts the question: If SIs are so critical to B/OSS success, where are the detailed case

studies, articles, speeches, and trade show booths to back it all up?

“We would have loved having a steady goal to shoot for. Instead, each phase became a moving target.” -- Sid Hoosein, Systems integrator

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Interfaces. It turned out to be a highly interesting assignment. The country is highly urbanised and has a population of 27 million – only 6 million fewer than Canada. Much of the population is concentrated in a few cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah. The STC campus is in Riyadh and a large portion of the STC staff is based there. STC, with an annual revenue of US$12 billion and 21,000 employees has become a Tier 1 carrier, close to the size of KPN. The operator is practically the sole provider of landlines in the kingdom and it has the largest market share by far in wireless too, competing against Mobily and Zain. STC's goal was to become more customercentric, for which it's undergone some big reorganisations. As a result, it's had to reengineer many of its systems to fit the new structure and market environment. Systems integrator and B/OSS players TRI: Which B/OSS vendors were involved at STC? Hoosein: STC's end-to-end, order-to-cash system was built around ICMS, an integrated B/OSS system IBM implemented in the mid ’90s. The software is highly customised and has worked quite well for STC, but it was time to replace this with something more modern. TCS was the chosen systems integrator for the project. In customer care, STC opted for an Oracle Siebel CRM, and the billing piece was awarded to Convergys' Infinys Rating & Billing. Granite from Telcordia was chosen on the inventory side. The SI project included implementation of these three new software systems. Reorganisation and data migration issues TRI: What organisational challenges did you face? Hoosein: STC is organised into four business units (BUs): residential landline, wireless consumer, enterprise, and wholesale. The first challenge was to come up with an enterprisewide customer segmentation scheme. And moving in that direction entailed a big shake up over who actually ‘owned the customer’ and associated data. Historically, each business unit had its own systems with its customer codes, customer types, product and service codes and other data such as codes for enquiry, complaints and order types in the call centres. Implementing a company-wide CRM and billing system with a 360 degree view required a single customer data model, both for the call centre and the billing system.

Customer treatment policy also needed company-wide agreement. Since any STC customer can be both a landline customer and a wireless customer, credit policies from different business units could not differ for the same customer. Often, it was left to individuals in the BU’s marketing department to come up with the policies that varied from day to day. Phased implementation approach TRI: How did the actual implementation go? Hoosein: The term ‘implementation’ implies you have a straight line path from A to Z. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were several projects under way when the SI arrived and it was up to the SI to implement overlapping phases.

Dan Baker, Founder of Technology Research Institute (TRI) has joined VanillaPlus's Editorial Advisory Board. www.technologyresearch.com

The TCS project started with the contract awarded for overhauling the Personal (Wireless) Business Unit systems, as this is an important part of STC's business and a large chunk of the overall revenues. However, the award for Home and Enterprise (mostly landline) System came a year later. To complicate matters further, the network organisation had an ongoing project to implement the inventory system including Fiber to the Home (FTTH). The timeframes for the award of these projects were all different and stretched over a few years. The cut-over for the Personal BU itself was a challenge requiring deployment and testing in different regions, let alone cutting over any systems across different Business Units. Unfortunately, many of the business and technical decisions already made by the Personal Business were not suitable for the Home and Enterprise Business Units. Implementing the 360 degree view in the call centres that work across Business Units also turned out to be a big challenge, thanks to ongoing changes and differences in opinions as to what the 360 degree view looked like. We would have loved having a steady goal to shoot for. Instead, each phase became a moving target. Number Management System challenge TRI: Was there a particular area of the project that caused more pain than other areas? What were the dynamics involved? Hoosein: I'm not sure there was one particular area that caused more pain. Certainly, the Number Management System (NMS) was a choke point in the project. The NMS was first

Conceiving such a data model was relatively easy. The hard part was implementing it; there had to be agreement on customer ownership and segmentation across business units (BUs). Then you had the challenge of mapping the legacy

data into the new data model. In addition, the codes for different data attributes were often defined vaguely or undocumented, and only certain individuals had the information for data mapping. So, data migration became a technical nightmare.

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TELECOM

be replaced, involving major system changes

The SI project is people intensive. I was surprised at the army of people TCS brought in for the project and they included every job title you can imagine: Business Analysts, Solution Architects, Siebel and IRB product experts, strong Programme Management Office (PMO) staff, Business Process Reengineering (BPR) professionals, Data Migration professionals, Hardware Engineers and other specialised and skilled professionals. Except for the BPR professionals who were mainly Egyptian nationals, most of these people were from India. I was the only American.

B/OSS customisation TRI: What areas in the B/OSS required customisation of the plain vanilla software to meet STC's needs?

With all these people on the ground in the STC campus, personnel, programme and project management was enormously complex. On paper, the Project Plan filled thousands of lines of Microsoft Project items. In reality, what the PMO managed was chaos.

“They take tough implemented for wireless. The problem was that

the complexity of NMS needed on the landline problems and turn side was an order of magnitude greater than in wireless.

them over, for the

flipside of a The NMS is tied closely to network inventory, where number assignment was based on

problem is often customer location and the central office switch an opportunity.” that served the customer. But what TCS had developed for wireless had to be greatly

-- Sid Hoosein, enhanced for landline use. Eventually it was Systems decided that the NMS developed by TCS would integrator and rework.

Hoosein: Many customisations were required, actually. And much of it had to do with Saudi Arabia's unique culture and market dynamics. Thirty percent of the population is made up of expats or foreign workers from countries like India, China, Egypt and the Philippines. What's more, these workers have special telecommunications needs for international calling and other services including money transfer. Pre-paid is big with the expat population. Also STC has extensive processes around blacklisted customers, credit checks, discount, and dunning procedures. Another peculiar market dynamic is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hajj season brings an influx of two to three million pilgrims into Saudi Arabia. Serving the telecom needs of these pilgrims is very lucrative for STC, but has wide implications for the B/OSS. For example, you have unique connect and disconnect rules for the pilgrims. And that translates to special rules for customer care, order handling, provisioning, activation and deactivation. Sid Hoosein has an MBA from the University of Michigan, an MS in Operations Research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technologies in Mumbai, India. The views he expresses are his own opinions and don't necessarily reflect the views of TCS or Saudi Telecom. Contact Sid at: Hooseinsid@aol.com

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Another special requirement was around customer segmentation. For instance, privileged customers such as members of the royal family and other government officials require different customer treatments. People and programme management issues TRI: What about the people and programme management side of B/OSS implementation? What challenges did you see there? Hoosein: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stays true to centuries-old traditions. All foreigners must abide by the rules and the local customs. The clerics are powerful and can impose severe punishment on anyone who violates these rules, so living and working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge for all foreigners.

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

Once again, there were many unique constraints. For example, coordinating entering and leaving Saudi Arabia had to be done in step with the needs of the project. TCS used full-time personnel just to manage the visas of their employees. And often visas for key personnel were rejected. For instance, the Saudi Consulate with its rules and regulations for Indian citizens made resource management very difficult. During the Hajj season, it was impossible to bring in any new personnel. Then there were the language and other cultural issues. People used to the informal work style of Europe and North America faced a bit of a ‘culture shock’ because business meetings with Saudis often entailed elaborate rituals with special protocols. For example, to set up a meeting, an STC employee in the IT organisation had to send an official meeting notice to the STC employee in the business organisation. Working the internal politics was as daunting a task as it must be at any large carrier. The inter-workings of different groups were based on personal relationships amongst the Saudis and usually based on quid pro quo. I dare say, even a savvy politician like Obama would be challenged to get things done at a large carrier like this, because there are so many interest groups to please. TRI: What are your final thoughts? Hoosein: We spoke about many B/OSS implementation issues, but I feel I've only scratched the surface. I've gone away from this experience with great respect for systems integrators like TCS who have made major investments and commitments in a market that requires new skills. But after all, that's what problem solvers always do. They take tough problems and turn them over, for the flipside of a problem is often an opportunity.


LEFT

FIELD

OPINION

Policy … or policy Police? Another TM Forum Management World event in Nice is just behind us with, I’m glad to report, a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. One continuing trend that caught my attention is that many service providers remain fixated on throttling customer use of their bandwidth, instead of providing customers with the bandwidth they want, and charging for it. Not surprisingly then, lots of vendors were keen to explain just how useful their products are in applying those consumption control policies. Also not surprisingly (but disappointing nevertheless) is that these service providers were talking in terms of punishing ‘bandwidth hogs’ and of tightly controlling usage in line with what the customer was paying for – and not one byte more. Why the ‘gotcha’ attitude? Why is this disappointing? Surely it is only fair use after all; just pay-as-you-go, right? It is the ‘gotcha’ attitude that I find sad. Too many service providers are still not putting their customers first. After all, don’t we all have the potential to be bandwidth hogs? Today’s bandwidth hogs at least give the carriers a foretaste of the coming reality, and an incentive to plan for it. Tomorrow we will all be hogs by today’s standards. We will get that way by consuming lots and lots of services and paying for them.

available to all customers, regardless of usage plan, when the network was not busy. That way, customers might be enticed to download that movie; read that e-book; or play one more hour of a global multi-player game. And in so doing would pay for those content-driven services. Extra revenue Yes, extra revenue. Plus there is the possibility that customers might really like that extra speed and decide to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Hmmm, more extra revenue. It is true that actively monitoring overall traffic in the network and having policy managers configured either to apply the subscription constraints or to allow more liberal use will take more effort. And it is true that care will need to be taken to ensure that Platinum customers are never negatively impacted by those lesser souls benefiting from a quiet traffic period.

There was hope from a couple of vendors I interviewed at the show: Volubill and Comptel. (Also see full review of Management World, Nice on pages 41-43 for more on Policy Control. Ed) Both suggested that policy could be used to do more than police and constrain network use.

But wouldn’t it be a wonderful marketing campaign for any service provider who chooses to say “whenever possible, you’ll have access to all of the bandwidth I can muster, at no extra charge”? It certainly sounds much better to me than ‘the $25 per month 2 GB plan will replace the existing $29.99 unlimited plan” – and pay up if you need more, whether or not the network is busy.

Both offered the notion that service providers could actually make hugely more bandwidth

I’m hoping that the savvy vendors get a hearing from those throttle-happy providers.

The author, Barbara Lancaster, is president of consultants LTC International

“Customers might really like that extra speed and decide to upgrade to a more expensive plan.” - Barbara Lancaster, LTC International

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I N C O M E - B A S E D

B I L L I N G

EXPERT OPINION:

Income-based billing: Dealing with limited capacities by valuing the customer’s time For many in the telecommunications industry, the harsh reality remains that a decade after data started its inexorable march into the network, billing is still about little more than getting some money in the door. But, as George Huitema and Doug Zone ask, for how long can the telecoms industry ignore the lessons from energy and mass transit (among other verticals)? These lessons suggest that the real win isn’t just bringing in the revenue but influencing end-user behaviour so that you can maximise margins. Any commercial enterprise will say, “if you have unlimited capacity, you maximise the amount of that service that people consume.” But if you have finite resources and don’t commercialise them accordingly, people will use them right to the edge of their availability and the result – over-consumption – inevitably becomes a problem. The authors are George Huitema, Senior Strategist, TNO, (pictured top) and Doug Zone, Chief Technology Officer, MetraTech Corp

Privatisation and the advent of ubiquitous competition in voice services have led the telecoms industry to forget that, at its root, it shares the advantages and perils of any utility as well as corresponding business models. The crisis in capacity driven by the iPhone is not dissimilar to ‘brown outs‘ caused by affordable air conditioners. Unfortunately, while most utilities remain regulated monopolies – making capacity investment an easy and profitable remedy – the telecommunications industry is typically made up of lightly regulated duopolies with considerable commercial freedom – capital expenditure is not guaranteed a return. Dysfunctional models Purely revenue- or cost-based billing and settlement models are dysfunctional in an environment where there is a limited capacity such as Cloud, wireless broadband (3G, 4G, etc.), or energy. Income-based billing – recognising both revenue and cost management – which is largely forgotten in telecoms, is needed. The telecoms industry, which to date has steadfastly failed to get to grips with the problem of limited capacity, should care about this greatly.

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Subscription prices climb Network services on the other hand, which are key to the industry’s future as a shop front for the virtual world, deteriorate as the network gets close to capacity. This is more than a quality issue – it directly speaks to the economics of providing the service. As the number of bytes (or cloud services or kilowatts) delivered per minute falls, relative price goes up. Though the actual price of subscribing to get access to the network remains constant, the cost goes up as you approach the edge and network speeds slow – even on ‘all you can eat’ plans with one monthly fee. Why? Simply put, time costs money. Every minute a consumer waits on the network, he could be doing something else. Given that once a monthly subscription is paid a user perceives the next download as essentially free, the only economic price of using the network is the opportunity cost of time. If demand is not controlled by explicit ‘by the minute’ pricing the mechanics of a service will implicitly manage demand, regardless of the service provider’s intentions. Though cost perceived by the end user gets higher and higher (in time required rather than money), the service provider gets no additional return as the real price stays the same. Threat to telecoms The telecommunications world must grasp the potential threat this situation poses: when this happens – and increasingly, it is happening – eventually the end user will churn as he seeks a

Billing strategies over the past 10 years have evolved with the advent of the network as a sales channel for bandwidth-consuming services. Though these strategies are incomebased – with an objective to maximise margins

(sales price less the cost of goods sold) – revenue-based billing has sufficed as the number of units sold if anything reduced unit costs (i.e. via volume purchasing agreements).


supplier who is less expensive. The original supplier’s strategy to maximise revenues by maximising the number of subscribed users will at this point become self-defeating because, when capacity nears, churn will become the result of ‘success’. To make matters worse, churn will hit for those users that have the highest perceived opportunity cost of time – those that lose the most by waiting around – businesses and high income consumers. Maximising revenues thus becomes a pyrrhic victory. What can the telecoms industry do? One way of addressing the dilemma would be to set the subscription price high enough to moderate demand. But this only achieves one thing – it scares off subscribers who now cannot afford the service. It does not change the price, which remains essentially free once the subscription is paid. Another way is to place ‘quotas’ on the service – making the service free up to a fair use limit and then essentially cutting users off with punishingly high tariffs thereafter. Economic theory shows that from a consumer’s point of view this is sub-optimal. It equally impacts users that really need the extra capacity and those who don’t but will use it if it is available – the former being the most valuable customers. Of course, one approach might be to charge per unit: in the case of 4G ‘by the byte’, the Cloud ‘by CPU utilised’, energy by the kilowatt, etc. The argument would run, “if people consume too much, I’ll raise the price.” That’s a workable policy in theory but when tested in the real world (in California with energy services for instance) it proved to be a disaster because, while on average energy service provision was good, at peak times it was awful and extensive ‘brown-outs’ resulted. Why? The average price is sufficient to have users save at average times, but was too low at peak times. This was largely because the meters used were only capable of collecting end of month information; they noted how much network resources were consumed on average, but not when. Managing demand doesn’t work or can’t be achieved on the average. So, obviously the demand side is not being managed optimally. This has direct implications for the supply side. As customers begin to churn, the only alternative is to invest in the network – to increase capacity. But the economics of demand will continue to drive up usage to the point where it is no longer ‘free’ – to the point where network contention and the opportunity cost of time take over. Only when

there is over-capacity on dimensions – at all times, across all geographies, for all classes of service – will the need for new capital expenditure cease. So, by not managing demand through effective pricing – the telecoms industry is not investing on its own terms. For monopolies and duopolies this is truly ironic. The network’s ‘sweet spot’ To manage demand appropriately, the network’s availability ‘sweet spot’ – where contention is minimised – and consumption need to match each other. How can this be achieved? Simply by pricing on the dimension that matters most to consumers – time. Charging consumers by units consumed and by when they are consumed. It is natural to ask, “isn’t this approach going to make my customers miserable?” Experience and economic theory says no. At peak time, premium or real-time business customers will happily pay more to ensure that they get good service with low latencies – thereby saving on time – their most valuable asset. Average leisure or business batch users – those with low opportunity cost of time and who would download huge files without caring if it took 10 minutes or so – would be better off as they could meet their needs off-peak at a saving.

“Isn’t this approach going to make my customers miserable?” Experience and economic theory says no.

Income-based billing’s objective is to manage demand so as to manage supply – to manage prices so as to manage costs. The premise is that billing is more than revenue maximisation – it is a key demand management tool – it is used to maximise income. With income-based billing, service providers bill for continual services on a continual basis, as they do in cloud and energy. It sounds simple, but with telecoms data services this doesn’t happen. Why? Because conventional billing processes are not configured to handle the volumes for continual services. Rather, they are designed around a traditional, all-you-can-eat or event-by-event business model, which was built on the premise that no resource is finite. In the days when voice was predominant and little bandwidth was required, this status quo was not problematic but with voice and (expanding) data sharing the same bandwidth, it’s becoming a real problem. The reality is that if you have finite capacity, at some point you have to do income-based billing as practiced in energy with smart meters and now with the cloud to achieve higher revenues and lower costs. And to maintain, let alone grow, your customer base. The imperative for dynamic billing in the telecoms industry continues to grow daily. VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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EVENT

REVIEW:

LT E

WORLD

SUMMIT

Stop doing LTE trials and launch your networks! Those attending the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam arrived under the threat of an ash cloud, says Mark Dye, but many left optimistic that the technology might deliver the cost savings and capacity improvements they’ve been longing for. For a while now the talk has been about how operators can reduce costs while being able to serve the ever-expanding growth of mobile broadband data traffic. This year more than 1,000 attendees from over 75 countries began to hear some answers.

Tommy Ljunggren, TeliaSonera: Launch your networks

In the opening keynote at Amsterdam’s LTE World Summit, Tommy Ljunggren, SVP and Head of System Development at Mobility Services, from Nordic operator, TeliaSonera, lost little time in delivering his verdict on the technology. “My words to all the operators in the room. Stop doing trials and launch your networks. That’s my message to you,” he said. “You have to bet right now on the right combination of frequencies that you believe will be the most commonly used around the world, because roaming on 4G is a very important feature,” he added. “You should not try to destroy the set up with the FTD and the TDD channels. Try to stick to the 3GPP standard set up.”

The author, Mark Dye, is a freelance telecoms writer

CP Murali, Aricent: Carefully timed R&D investment

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Ljunggren also revealed that he considers 4G trials to be largely unnecessary following his own experience with the technology. “The most important thing and the thing that struck me was not the download speed but the latency and the uplink speed, because that really makes the difference from the 3G experience,” he said. “The delay is five times less than 3G right now and the uplink speed is better than my ADSL line at home, which is quite amazing at this early stage.” Still repaying debt Of course, as Tarcisio Ribeiro, Vice President and General Manager Europe, Tellabs, pointed out, operators still need to be careful how they invest. They are continuing to repay debt incurred over 3G while still trying to find a profitable business model – something they’ll also need to do with LTE.

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

“They would like to have migration that is as seamless as possible but there will be challenges and I think operators will be deploying LTE based on their own circumstances,” he said. “Some face more competition and need to move faster while others may wait.” “Much of the challenge with LTE lies in carefully timing R&D investments to stay ahead of competition and being ready when the market sees volume purchases by carriers,” said CP Murali, Senior Vice President at Aricent. This followed the announcement of Aricent’s partnership with NetLogic aimed at enabling advanced LTE capabilities on the latter’s XLS family of MIPS64-based multi-core, multi-threaded processors. “Every carrier you speak to will tell you LTE is integral to their broadband strategy,” added Neil Coleman, Director Product Marketing, Actix. “They know that’s the end game and are just working out how quickly they need to move there. In an ideal world they would try to get as much out of the UMTS network as possible, and stretch out that massive investment and get LTE in as cheaply and cost effectively as possible.” “We need one common set of infrastructure that drives one common set of services, and we need quality of service across the entire network infrastructure, not just spectrum and the uplink and downlink, but across every element of the network, so we can drive new applications and voice over IP in an IMSpowered way,” said Ken Wirth, President LTE and 4G networks at Alcatel-Lucent. Can’t live without flat rate Wirth also noted that consumers can’t live with or without flat tariffs. “If you don’t give consumers flat rate they won’t use the services, but with it they abuse it,” he added.


He also pointed out that there needed to be a move away from charging on a per bit basis, with consumers unable to judge data consumption, and flat rate tariffs are deployed everywhere. “So what we need is a willingness to pay that maps to the infrastructure and operator assets,” he added. “With the work we’re doing in the selforganising network space, what we’ve seen is the industry trying to learn from the mistakes of UMTS and the key realisation over the past six months for us is that it’s not about high capacity or massive data rates,” added Coleman. “So operators are saying we have to deliver this capacity and we know it’s coming, but we have to do it at this price point which is substantially below what we’re paying for UMTS,” he said. “That’s all about making the IP core as cost-effective as possible, and spectrum efficiency. It’s all about those selforganising networks and having fewer things to maintain. It’s not like UMTS on steroids, they’re trying to do a new approach to it. It’s getting a lot closer to traditional Wi-Fi with an all-IP network.” LTE Awards Those responsible for the best in innovation, technological developments and launches were rewarded at the inaugural LTE Awards held at the event on the Tuesday night. With TeliaSonera having been the first operator to commercially launch LTE in two countries back in December last year, they were rightly acknowledged with the award for Significant

Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by an Operator. Huawei also picked up two gongs, one Significant Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by a Vendor, and the other for Best Contribution to Research & Development for LTE, with the company dedicating the largest portion of its mobile research and development resources to the technology. Huawei has also been awarded more than 60 LTE contracts worldwide this year, and these include nine commercial LTE contracts.

“If you don’t give consumers flat rate they won’t use the services, but with it they abuse it.” -- Ken Wirth, Alcatel-Lucent

Other winners included JDSU (Best Network/Device Testing Product for LTE), Ericsson Research (Best Contribution to LTE Standards) and picoChip for the Best Enabling Product/Technology for LTE - its first full hardware and software development platform for LTE femtocells. There was also an award for Best Green LTE Product or Initiative which was picked up by Winafrique Technologies for their RAPS initiative, while Antti Toskala of Nokia Siemens Networks grabbed the coveted Award for Individual Contribution to LTE Development. As VanillaPlus left the event there was genuine excitement in many quarters about the real-time opportunities LTE presents for various verticals. But, as one operator quietly said to me, “As a mobile operator we’ve got to be able to make it pay, and we’re going to have to invest again before we see any of that aren’t we ...”

Tarcisio Ribeiro, Tellabs: Operators still repaying 3G debt

Taxi!

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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L T E

W O R L D

S U M M I T

Alcatel-Lucent blows the trumpet for LTE One of the most vocal players at the recent LTE World Summit was Alcatel-Lucent. Through its NG Connect programme, it has gathered together 35 partners in gaming, media, devices and in other areas, and is already developing proof of concept designs such as an LTE connected car which was on display at the event (see VanillaPlus February 2010, ppS8-S10). Ken Wirth, President LTE and 4G networks at Alcatel-Lucent, says the idea was borne out of the situation in Europe following the billions of Euros spent on spectrum auctions where service providers were left in a really difficult situation from a profit and loss standpoint. “NG connect is all about demonstrating the services, applications and innovations that LTE enables,” he adds. “So, as they’re looking at the technology and the solution they’re also looking at the NG Connect programme to understand what services they are going to launch to consumers and enterprise customers as they deploy that network. This means revenue and margin flowing in through new services.”

“The other exciting thing about LTE is it’s the first global wireless standard.” Aside from the connected car, this technology manifests itself in a number of other ways. - Ken Wirth, Alcatel-Lucent Connected signage

“We also build other applications such as digital signage, so that when you walk in a shopping mall or plaza or campus environment you can work out through an electronic interactive sign where you are, you can figure out what you want to go do, purchase tickets through the sign so that when you get to the theatre your tickets are there and you’re ready to go,” adds Wirth. “It’s bringing that kind of connectivity to our everyday lives.” Wirth says that LTE will revolutionise how consumers and enterprise customers work with technology. With the whole world seemingly focused on green technologies, he uses the example of wind turbines popping up in valleys, offshore and on the coast and how LTE will provide coverage for them. A green technology “Those wind turbines are very expensive and power companies want those wind turbines turning all the time so they generate power and profit,” says Wirth. “Well, they also break. So, when engineers get sent out today they might 26 24

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

get there and be flummoxed by what they see and not quite sure what to do. Right now [the engineer] might have to go back and talk to someone and read up on it.” LTE will enable the engineer to instantly pull down schematics of the turbine on his wireless device, establish a 3-4 way multicast video call with experts back at headquarters in highdefinition video, while pointing the camera so that they can see what’s wrong. This will enable parts to be ordered in real time, reducing downtime to perhaps a day rather than two weeks, according to Wirth. “So there’s a tremendous amount of power that LTE connectivity has in the capability, the bandwidth and the apps it enables,” he adds. “It really is going to change all our lives.” First global mobile standard Of course, the other thing that’s exciting about LTE is that it’s the first global wireless standard. This, says Wirth, means those producing devices know what they need to make and can forget any worries around whether it’s GSM or wideband CDMA, and what kind of volumes there are going to be. “They just look at cell phone users today and multiply that by five or six, because if you think about how LTE will enable devices to connect to the network, those devices may not be part of you,” adds Wirth. “You may have a phone or data card and LTE will enable connectivity to the home or car, and you can just imagine the other devices that will spring from those.” Indeed, Wirth says that manufacturers are really racing to build devices to support the infrastructure that LTE is going to enable. “The devices are going to be the driving factor of LTE ubiquity,” he adds. “The services providers will build out the infrastructure and it’s going to be the devices that seem to be always the limiting factor.”


P O L I C Y

C O N T R O L

V I D E O

R E V I E W

Are broadband policy control and charging creating personalised services? To find out how to optimise your services and charging, have you tried watching the conversation between Gareth Senior, CTO of Comptel Corporation, and Jeremy Cowan, Editor of VanillaPlus via www.vanillaplus.com? Here, Georgina Firth describes their video discussions on dynamic policy software at Management World 2010 in sunny Nice, France. To get the most out of the mobile data upsurge, from the burgeoning broadband landscape, operators need to consider managing policy control and resources better – with particular emphasis on bandwidth. Managing mobile data traffic profitably is a perpetual issue for communications service providers, and the explosion of mobile broadband has exacerbated the challenge. With the growing demand for connectivity anywhere, anyhow, the pressure is on to deliver without compromising on customer expectation. Gareth Senior says that this is no longer just a network issue. In fact, he goes one step further to suggest that the current network-based solutions are unlikely to be able to deliver growing demand for convergence of bandwidth across multiple access points such as PDAs, laptops, office VPNs and home-based connections. He proffers that providers can encourage spending, by offering subscriber enhancements in personalised services, by implementing intelligent software across the network. More effective charging With insight and understanding of individual customer’s data requirements, and how their expectations measure up to service provision, Gareth says that operators can start to enhance the experience and take control of more effective charging. But how can this be achieved? Broadband consumers of today want improved connectivity without having to worry about their chosen device, access point (be it fixed or mobile), or exceeding their bandwidth cap. While it is indeed necessary for network devices to restrict bandwidth for everybody, the current ‘one size fits all’ approach is becoming a hindrance to individual users. Therefore, integrating intensified service personalisation is a fundamental element to addressing the problem. Monetising services in response to demand Perhaps one of the most interesting assertions is Gareth’s view on how dynamic policy control can

VanillaPlus reports on how dynamic policy control can help operators to opportune bandwidth, aid service personalisation and monetise traffic amid rising data service costs and falling revenues.

monetise services in response to customer demand. He claims that, by intellectualising policy control, operators will be able to increase the overall user experience – anywhere, anytime and on any device. His conversation on video with VanillaPlus also touches on the role of the cloud. Linking the network in with the cloud can help to ensure a better quality of service, enhancing profitability yet further. The overall theme of the conversation focuses on how the use of dynamic software can help to remove the generic restrictions on broadband usage for the customer on a wholesale basis. Gareth says that not only does this enhance the user experience, it can also help monetise data traffic per individual. Moreover, bridging the gap between mediation, charging and fulfilment on the OSS platform will help providers to be able to cope more effectively with future developments in the industry. To find out more about dynamic policy control, and how it can help reclaim control over personalised service provision and charging, visit www.vanillaplus.com and click the video link on the Home Page.

The author, Georgina Firth, is an independent telecoms writer

“His conversation on video with VanillaPlus also touches on the role of the cloud.”

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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S U B S C R I B E R

D A T A

M A N A G E M E N T

EXPERT OPINION:

Subscriber data management: Making the most of every customer Multiple system operators and communication service providers have several things in common; arguably, the most important factor is the desire to be more than ‘bit-pipes’ or mere mediums over which companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple make money and generate brand loyalty. Operators want to avoid being relegated to utility status, as they co-operate and compete with increasingly influential species of internet and over-the-top players considered to have the ‘cool’ factor that attracts consumers, advertisers and 3rd party content.

The author, Jonathan Downey, is Director Product Marketing at Openet

To thrive, operators must change from a network-centric to a subscriber-centric focus, using the knowledge of their customers to create deeper insight to serve them better and smooth the real-time subscriber experience. To do this, they will need to bring together previously latent or under-used assets; that is, the important subscriber-related information. By unlocking these data silos, preferences can be inferred, behaviours and patterns can be intelligently deciphered and better customer segmentation models built. With IP-based convergence blurring the line for customers across services, operators have a unique opportunity to reinforce their role as key enablers of a better subscriber experience. They can use their knowledge of their customers’ services, usage and preferences to facilitate realtime, subscriber-aware service delivery.

Subscriber-specific information has the potential to elevate the customer experience to a whole new level, by influencing service delivery in real time. By federating subscriber profile information such as billing plans, service entitlements, spending limits and parental controls, operators can create a more dynamic and interactive service delivery environment.

Getting closer to your customer SDM is both a solution architecture and the technologies required to assemble important subscriber information. To provide a holistic

Operators are able to recommend, in real time, additional content, devices or services that others with similar interests enjoyed, to be purchased and dispatched immediately.

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

The time has come for increased subscriber visibility and network transparency across any and all platforms. Enter subscriber data management (SDM).

This capability provides an opportunity to both improve the subscriber experience and provide the opportunity to sell more services. This can take some services beyond their traditional usage; allowing operators to configure and sell subscriber packages based on criteria such as network access, time of day, location, device type and bandwidth tiers. Examples of how these capabilities might be deployed include: • Broadband customers who have reached their monthly fair usage limit, can purchase additional quota to carry them over to their next billing period • A Pay-Per-View experience can be enriched by allowing customers watching on-demand content the option, for example, to purchase a download of the soundtrack from the movie through their remote control • Customers who don’t have a subscription to a TV channel can pay for temporary access to a popular series.

How to unite all this data? Operators have long recognised that their customers and customer information are their most valuable assets. However, managing these assets poses significant challenges, including managing multiple data repositories across products and applications, replicating subscriber information to address new business opportunities and making individual subscriber information available to dynamically personalise services for real-time delivery.

26

solution to the data management needs of an enterprise, SDM must be capable of supporting both online access to subscriber data as required by service delivery platforms, and access to high quality data for diverse analytical and business intelligence (BI) applications.


However, the value of an operator’s data extends well beyond service delivery. There is a wealth of data that exists, or can be derived, that is inaccessible, locked away or simply under-used. As decision making becomes more data-driven, teams from across the organisation can benefit from getting access to data from across networks, services and subscribers. Where subscriber data management is treated as a strategic initiative, it enables operators to put in place a solution architecture to address a myriad of data-related challenges. It provides the foundation for real-time BI applications, whose accuracy fundamentally relies on the collection of network usage data, ideally enriched with subscriber-specific reference data. This foundation greatly simplifies how data is pulled together, driving down data management costs and providing a solid, repeatable foundation for BI applications such as: • Audience Measurement to provide accurate and complete viewership metrics for advertising sales and content provider negotiations • Revenue Assurance to identify revenue losses caused by provisioning errors and fraud • Promotion and Loyalty programmes to identify opportunities to reduce churn and implement initiatives to increase value-added service penetration • Network Congestion Analysis to discover and understand issues causing network bottlenecks. Importantly, where information is private or sensitive, or where subscribers have explicitly opted-out, personally identifiable information is removed to make subscriber information anonymous. Making the most of your data If operators are to leverage the data in their possession for both real-time service delivery and business insight, they must break it free from device- and platform-specific silos. This presents a significant challenge in transporting subsets of data from application-specific databases to the transactional and analytical applications, requiring expertise in collecting, synchronising, enriching and updating information in a dynamic fashion to make sure updates reflect the current subscriber state and usage activity. Adopting a holistic SDM solution architecture provides both a blueprint and the means to unlock data previously trapped in multiple databases and management systems across the organisation. It makes it possible to achieve a

single, comprehensive version of the truth with a consistent view of customers and services. This data can be managed and used as an overlay to existing systems, one that does not disrupt or impair the legacy infrastructure. This preserves legacy systems by creating a mediation layer through which selective subscriber data can be extracted, aggregated and shared within service provider environments, as well as those with trusted third parties. With this perspective, service providers can use insight gleaned from network activity to understand customer behaviour, improve existing offerings and ensure smooth service delivery across devices and networks. Operators are then able to identify and respond to changing behaviours and create more segmented and targeted services, advertisements and data plans.

Conclusion As decision making becomes more data driven, teams from across the organisation are looking to access their organisation’s data to make better decisions and create more interactive and dynamic services. The primary goal of an SDM initiative is to unlock and deliver latent data for users and systems, with the goal of delivering differentiated and personalised services for customers. It facilitates both the online access to subscriber data to service delivery platforms and access to high quality data for diverse analytical and business intelligence applications. SDM brings together important subscriber information from across a range of networks, applications and databases, serving as a centralised repository for that data, without requiring each application to deal with the complexity of underlying subscriber databases. By embracing subscriber data management, operators can bring a level of personalisation and insight not possible with other competitors and partners in the value chain. This information allows operators to reinforce their roles as the enablers of IP-based services which offer a richer, more subscriber-aware experience for their customers.

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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SUBSCRIBER

The author, Steve Costello, is a freelance telecoms writer

D ATA

MANAGEMENT

Will LTE drive operator use of subscriber data management? Operators are facing a number of internal and external pressures which are making the effective management of subscriber data a business imperative, says Steve Costello. Accurate subscriber data can enable customers to be targeted with personalised services, driving increased revenue and reducing churn, while subscriber data management (SDM) technology can also be used to reduce the time taken to introduce new services and improve the use of data across disparate network elements.

Richard Bodin, Blueslice Networks: LTE is a real discontinuity

“The thing that [Google, Skype and others] have in common is that they have a very good handle on subscriber data.” -- Richard Bodin, Blueslice

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systems, and they’ve got policy systems. They are basically looking at lots of places where they have subscriber data, but no way to actually bring it all together. There is no easy way to tie things together from a service point of view.”

The issue for service providers is not that they lack customer data, but that this information is generally stored in different silos, making it difficult to gain an accurate overview of which services subscribers are actually using, in what manner, and when. In many cases, various system elements rely on different subscriber identifiers, meaning that requests for information about a single customer need to be formulated differently across multiple databases.

An accurate subscriber view Shira Levine, Directing Analyst for Next Gen OSS and Policy at Infonetics Research, recently noted that “the marketing and customer care arms of telecom operators everywhere are frustrated by the lack of a consolidated view of the subscriber, because it limits their ability to cross-sell, up-sell, create value-added services and offer single sign-on to their customers”. With increased competition from rivals looking to extend their relationships with customers — for example, fixed operators moving into mobile, and mobile operators offering broadband services — this could mean that business is lost to rivals who are able to effectively offer shared customers a more accurately defined service bundle.

Bodin notes: “Operators already have the HLR, the voicemail system, they’ve got SMS

This subscriber profiling can also be used to drive increased usage and loyalty among less

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

Networks

Due to the convergence of mobile, fixed, broadcast and pay-television services, traditional service providers are facing increased competition from new rivals, many of which are coming from the internet domain, including Google, Skype and their peers. As Richard Bodin, Director of Product Line Management at Blueslice Networks (recently acquired by Tekelec – see News, page 5) notes, “when you look at some of these internet-based operations, the thing that they have in common is that they have a very good handle on subscriber data”.


between the various infrastructure nodes may be prohibitive, and with large amounts of customer information stored in a single place, the dangers of an outage, however small, are magnified. In most networks, not every network node needs to be able to access every piece of subscriber information, and not all information needs to be updated in real-time — for example, subscriber data may be best made available in batches based on location, while billing information does not need to be updated frequently. This makes the use of federated data more appealing — as long as this local information is still seamlessly available to other applications through the SDM platform.

active members of the user base. David Knox, Global Product Marketing Manager for Charging at Acision, noted: “We are seeing a lot of operators wanting to find ways to more effectively roll out campaigns that target and identify the customers that are likely to churn and subscribers that are dormant, to target those customers with specific marketing campaigns and loyalty promotions to give them an incentive to start using again.” Mike Manzo, Chief Marketing Officer of Openet, argues that one of the big challenges is to move operators away from looking at SDM as a tool to address a specific task or set of tasks, and instead look to how it can be deployed to serve different needs across multiple business units. “Often, operators are running and building a point solution as opposed to thinking more holistically, when the reality is there are about a dozen applications that different groups in the organisation are building which need access to subscriber information,” he explains. “If they all go out and build a point solution they are going to replicate cost, which makes their infrastructure more expensive, and they run the risk that data ends up being different at each source, which makes service delivery inconsistent,” adds Manzo. Not an advantage Generally, operators are looking at adopting subscriber data management solutions which mix data consolidation and data federation, rather than opting for technologies which are based on a wholly consolidated or wholly distributed architecture. While in terms of simplicity, on paper a single consolidated database has advantages, in practical terms this is often not the case. With service providers operating a distributed network, the bandwidth demands and latency considerations of sending data back and forth

There are, however, still some cases where consolidation is desirable. One example is at Vodafone Hutchison Australia, which was created by the merger of two previously separate operators, 3 Australia and Vodafone Australia, and therefore led to the single business having two distinct infrastructure deployments. As part of a wide-ranging deal with Nokia Siemens Networks, the operator it is set to “evolve towards a single database for all of its subscriber information”, stating that “simplifying our core networks and streamlining our overall network management is key to delivering a superior customer experience while achieving greater operational efficiencies”. Where there is also some agreement is that SDM solutions need to be architected so that data collection and data processing tasks are handled independently, in order to provide the maximum flexibility and to future-proof the investment. “You want to be able to adapt the business rules that the processing engine uses to handle the data processing independently from the network collection itself, such that when you work on one or make changes on one, you don’t necessarily affect the other,” said Openet’s Mike Manzo.

David Knox, Acision: More effective campaign roll-out

“Simplifying our core networks and streamlining our network management is key to delivering a superior customer experience (and) greater operational efficiencies.” -- Vodafone Hutchison Australia

Mike Manzo, Openet: Adapt the business rules

LTE — market discontinuity According to Blueslice Networks’ Richard Bodin, the deployment of SDM by operators is likely to be bolstered by the introduction of LTE (long-term evolution to 4G) networks, which require a new subscriber database, called LTE HSS. The need for a new database differs from the introduction of 3G networks, which enabled an evolution from existing HLR deployments, leading Bodin to describe LTE as “a real discontinuity”. “Because LTE needs something new, operators want to deploy something that is future-proof and will provide them with a wider subscriber data management. LTE is a real discontinuity, and I think it is going to drive forward SDM because a new database is needed,” he said. VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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R E V E N U E

A S S U R A N C E

EXPERT OPINION:

Operators want to enhance their powers of analysis The demand for revenue assurance and fraud management tools has grown significantly in recent years, and operators’ needs are always evolving. To learn more about the growing need for business analytics, VanillaPlus spoke to Alon Aginsky, the President, CEO & Founder of cVidya Networks which last year acquired ECtel and has further growth plans in the coming months. VanillaPlus: What impact has the global financial crisis had on fraud and revenue assurance in communication services?

Alon Aginsky is the President, CEO & Founder of cVidya Networks, with 21 years of management and marketing experience in telecoms, software development and network management. Alon is a ‘serial entrepreneur’.

Alon Aginsky: The CFO of one of the world’s largest telecom operators told me a year ago, as tough as the financial situation is, he’s much more concerned about fraud attempts and revenue leakage. The harder the financial crisis gets, the more fraudsters there are out there trying to make a buck. Operators are now more concerned about protecting their networks, their customers, and the services they offer. The dealer network that they have is also more vulnerable. The other aspect is that operators are facing shrinking margins on voice services and every penny counts. They can’t spend much money on building new services, or transforming completely from one generation of technology to another – everything has to do with the business case. Fraud management and revenue assurance falls perfectly into this timeframe, where we are (in most cases) helping the operator to build the business case for new services. The RoI that telecom operators get from revenue assurance and fraud solutions usually is so high that they can fund other growth areas in their regular business with these projects. So, I think that the economic climate encourages operators to invest more in the analytics of their existing business and invest more in improving the back office fraud management and RA systems, and increasing their efficiency in handling all of their back office BSS and OSS components. VP: How are revenue assurance software vendors able to help CSPs overcome these challenges?

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A few years ago maybe nobody would have looked at this number of customers who were not being charged because they had so much profit from other types of data services. But these days the amount of money paid to RIM can be substantial. Over one year it was millions of dollars. Vendors such as cVidya can look into those types of costs, analyse in near real time these transactions, and mitigate the financial risk. VP: Evidently, CSPs are spending a lot more time analysing their profit margins these days – and the challenges to them. Are there any other examples of this today that weren’t seen a few years years ago? AA: Profit margins have always been important. In traditional voice services margins have been low for several years because of competition. Additional services have had to offer higher margins that the operators could sustain and grow. One area that has been a strong profit generator on the voice side has been roaming. That’s still a high profit engine for operators. But in national services – fixed and mobile – the profit margins have in some cases evaporated, especially with the introduction of VoIP. The number one issue that is missing for operators is visibility. It’s the ability to understand what you have: What is your pattern of usage in your voice network; how you can group customers by geography, or by

AA: I can give you the example of one of our

customers in the interconnect business. One of their services is a BlackBerry™ service. They found out through our revenue assurance solution that a large amount of BlackBerry users ceased using this service because of the financial climate. But RIM (the owners of BlackBerry) were charging them recurring fees although those customers were not paying the operator any longer.


amount spent; and what specific pricing plans you want to offer to those groups. The days of ‘one size fits all’ are long gone, so cVidya is helping operators through our Business View® product. This gives the ability to analyse existing usage of voice and data services and then to offer the segment a more tailored, profitable price plan. We have a strong success story with a European tier 1 mobile group who have been using our Business View product for some time. They are enjoying higher margins in voice since using it, because of the segmentation and personalisation for different groups. VP: Another fast growing area – particularly in developing telecom markets – is the provision of mobile payment and money transfers. What are the revenue assurance needs in this arena and how well are the operators’ needs being met? That’s a market that’s picking up quicker now, but it’s definitely not there yet. If you have banks and mobile operators that need to receive and send small amounts of money across borders, we can reconcile a specific transaction, so that neither party is putting too much ‘skin in the game’, they’re not losing any money in this transaction. By using our technology and techniques in fraud detection – looking for patterns, or identifying blacklisted subscribers or transaction holders – we’re helping the banks, operators and retailers to avoid dealing with them. So the challenges are around detecting it, putting in some controls (KPIs and alarms), and thirdly reconciling settlements between the parties so that they are all working off a single data repository. VP: You’ve talked about external fraud, but for a long time the elephant in the room for operators experiencing revenue losses was internal fraud. Is this now adequately recognised, confronted and tackled? AA: It’s an excellent point; it’s an open secret that’s been around for years. The operators didn’t admit the magnitude of the problem that they have. And they didn’t want to discuss it in case it leaked into the media and put them in an awkward position about their own employees. But with so much fraud in other sectors like banks and insurance

companies, telcos see that the scale of the problem is such that with our tools and processes you can fight it. We see that especially around billing-related areas where a CSR could assign his family and friends into the lowest price plan available. We see roaming calls being deleted, or SIM cards that aren’t registered and all calls are assigned to a bucket called “testing”, or in subsidies for iPhones that are only given to specific business customers. We see it also in premium content services delivered free to people that aren’t even permitted to receive it.

“We see roaming calls being deleted, or SIM cards that aren’t registered.” - Alon Aginsky, cVidya Networks

All of that is done internally, by employees – sometimes temporary ones. It doesn’t mean anything about the culture of the company, it could be contractors or third party vendors. But if you don’t have controls, KPIs, and realtime visibility of the data, as an operator you put yourself at risk of losing a lot of money. VP: We’ve already reported extensively on the merger of cVidya Networks and ECtel (see vanillaplus.com and VanillaPlus, April/May 2010, page 5). But what does the merger enable cVidya to do now that it couldn’t before? AA: That’s a good question, because I think size does matter in this market. I think that the benefits are the ability to be in the face of 145 CFOs, CEOs, and CIOs, the ability to cover the market, the ability to compete better in all geographies, the ability to finance what you want to do – for instance financing another acquisition that we’re planning. It’s also enabled us to reach high up into every operator in the world and in the financial industry. Some of the largest banks in the world are now approaching us to work on our next transaction. And it’s the ability today to look beyond the existing revenue assurance and fraud management business into the next generation of telecom analytics which is where we think the growth is coming. VP: Can you put a timeframe on this planned acquisition or tell us anything about the target areas? AA: I can’t give you the timeframe because we’re not in a rush to do it. We want to do the right deal, and with the right target. We are looking into growth markets and technologies that can bring our existing 145 customers real financial value.

VanillaPlus Jargon Buster BSS = Business Support Systems CSP = Communication Service Provider CSR = Customer Service Representative KPI = Key Performance Indicators OSS = Operations Support Systems RoI = Return on Investment VoIP = Voice over Internet Protocol

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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REVENUE

ASSURANCE

Plugging the leaks Anandan Jayaraman, Connectiva Systems: Data consistency is vital

With margins incredibly tight for communications service providers, preventing revenue leakage has become a key issue. Steve Rogerson looks at where the leaks are occurring and how they can be stopped. With the growth of communication services, network operators are not only having a headache integrating them into existing systems but need to do so in such a way as to prevent revenue leakage. On top of that, the spread of mobile services to new regions is also causing billing headaches as operators try to extract the correct amounts of money owed. And then there is the thorny issue of making sure all the roaming charges owed are correctly identified and paid (see articles on pages 46-49) .

Elias Chachak, cVidya Networks: Beware silent subscribers

Some are solving this by ripping out their existing data and billing management systems, and installing new kit designed from the outset to handle the multiple revenue streams. Others are working more piecemeal and bringing in experts and specialist software to identify the main leakage points and then trying to plug the holes. Balancing act The problems can start the second a potential customer walks into a high street shop to buy a mobile phone. Many operators now run credit checks on such customers but there is a delicate balancing act to play between stopping bad debtors joining the network and not turning away new customers who could end up being a long-term source of revenue. Once, this was not too big a worry as there were relatively few bad debtors because people liked to keep hold of their phone. But the recent financial crisis has increased the problem to one that is more serious.

Adrian Harris, Neural Technologies: Missing data is an indicator

“The phone used to be the last thing that people didn’t pay,” said Tim Barber, Telecoms Marketing Director at Experian. “It was important to their network. They would not pay the mortgage rather than not pay their phone bill. But in the past 18 months there has been a rising problem with bad debt.” He said that one operator in southern Europe has half of its customers more than 30 days in arrears and a fifth are more than 90 days in arrears. Because the problem was not previously that serious, operators did not have the systems in place to deal with it effectively.

The author is Steve Rogerson, a freelance IT & telecoms writer

The quandary they have is that if they cut these people off then they are losing a potential source of future revenue. If they then sell the debt to a debt collector they are only likely to realise a small percentage of what they are owed, and it might not be worth it.

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Identify risky customers There is specialist software that can help in this by identifying which customers are most likely to pay without any interference by the operator,


those who will need a gentle nudge such as a text message, and those who are likely to default unless more stringent methods are applied. The other aspect of this are customers who deliberately try to consume services without paying for them. These can account typically for between five and six percent of revenue but can be well into double figures if preventative action is not taken. “It makes sense to try to lower the number into the two per cent range,” said Eric Nelson, Managing Principal at Synaptitude Consulting. “The investment to get it even lower often just doesn’t pay off as it costs more to implement the technology than what is being lost.” The range of fraudulent activities is wide, including those who give false names and addresses when applying for phones, or even using stolen identities, but software can pinpoint some of these at the time of application. “Inconsistent or missing data is often an indicator,” said Adrian Harris, Senior Consultant at Neural Technologies. “Age, profession and salary could be inconsistent, for example. There are patterns in these that have been associated with fraud. Even someone’s name could be an indicator as fraudsters go for names that sound comfortable.” The goal with software here is to look for a number of indicators that build up a picture of a potential fraudster. By just going for one or two indicators you could end up with a system that rejects too many good people, but needing a match for lots of indicators may let too many fraudsters onto the network. “The answer may be to let more people on but watch those who look suspicious more closely once they are on the network,” said Harris. Dealer fraud too And it is not just the customer that needs watching but the dealer as well, as there have been cases of dealers cheating on the way they do customer upgrades to gain more commission. For example, a dealer may get commission every time a customer upgrades, but some customers do not upgrade each time a better option comes along. So a customer may want to upgrade to the latest model or plan but the dealer could put that in a series of upgrades to earn more commission. “You also get silent subscribers,” said Elias Chachak, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Business Development at cVidya Networks. “The dealer gets commission but there is no use on the phone. They could be friends or neighbours or people using false IDs. Some dealers also work for a number of operators and can use the churn system to move customers and pick up commissions.” Internal fraud is also an issue where employees will use their knowledge of the system to top up credits for friends and relatives. They may even

take relatives off the billing system so they receive services without having to pay for them. The other major area of concern is matching the different infrastructures between carriers for working out charging for roaming and other shared services. There can even be problems with leased lines with the timing of the billing not matching the time of the actual service. “I don’t think this is normally fraud here but problems with provisioning and processing,” said Chachak. “But in some countries there is fraud between operators. They are doing it deliberately.”

Eric Nelson, Synaptitude Consulting: Target is two percent

The amount of losses for operators because of both inconsistencies and fraudulent behaviour can range from three percent of revenue to as high as a quarter of revenues. “This can have a huge impact on the bottom line,” said Anandan Jayaraman, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Connectiva Systems. “That is why there have been significant investments in solutions to this.” Problems can also arise within the different systems in one operator as the data about calls made are transferred from the switch to the mediation systems to the billing platform. “Not all calls may be recorded properly because of data transfer issues,” said Jayaraman. “There can be a lack of consistency in how calls are rounded up or down. There can be issues with having the incorrect rate plan. There are a lot of plans and not enough time to check them. This is one of the major sources of leakage.”

David Heaps, Intec: Reporting software or manual checks

Part of the reason is that the operators are using legacy systems onto which new services have been bolted. “A surprising number of our customers still have home grown mediation solutions or old legacy systems,” said David Heaps, Chief Product and Strategy Officer for Intec. “There will be things that these just can’t handle. If you are running a modern system, it shouldn’t be a problem keeping it up to date.” To check how well a system is handling the services and billing, companies can run reporting software. “These (systems) will predict how much revenue you should be getting compared with what you are getting,” said Heaps. “Or you can do manual checks on a subset of the data and extrapolate from there.” Brian Pawlus, director of product solutions at Oracle, added: “The typical telco environment is fragmented and integrating all the systems can cause a lot of problems. The more systems you have, the more opportunities there are for problems.”

Brian Pawlus, Oracle: Unified platform needed

“One operator in southern Europe has half of its customers more than 30 days in arrears.” -- Tim Barber, Experian

He said the answer was to rip them all out and install a unified platform across all the services. “That would make it a lot easier for the operator to control the processes and reduce errors,” he concluded. VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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D

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Upcoming Events Telecoms Customer Loyalty and Churn 5 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 8 July, 2010 Le Meridien, Nice, France www.iir-telecoms.com/LoyaltyVAPL

The Strategic Value of Content Partnerships VanillaPlus Thought Leadership Webinar 7 July, 2010 www.vanillaplus.com 14.00hrs (London), 15.00hrs (Paris), 17.00hrs (Dubai), 09.00hrs (New York), 21.00hrs (Singapore)

Telecoms World Congress 7-8 July, 2010 Okura Hotel, Amsterdam www.terrapinn.com/2010/twc/

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FREE WEBINAR: Managing customer-driven change VanillaPlus Thought Leadership Series Thursday 22 July, 2010 www.vanillaplus.com 14.00hrs (London), 15.00hrs (Paris), 17.00hrs (Dubai), 09.00hrs (New York), 21.00hrs (Singapore) 6th European EXPP Summit 11-12 October, 2010 Munich, Germany www.expp-summit.com

VanillaPlus Video Talking Heads Reach a global audience with your interview streamed from www.vanillaplus.com

For more information contact: cherisse@vanillaplus.com Tel: +44 (0) 1732 897646


VanillaPlus Thought Leadership Webinars: The Strategic Value of Content Partnerships Date: Time: Venue: Speakers:

Wednesday 7 July 2010 14.00 London, 15.00 Paris, 09.00 New York, 17.00 Dubai Online – see www.vanillaplus.com/diary for details Balaji Srinivasan, Product Development Manager, Intec Monica Ricci, Product Director for Cross-Portfolio Marketing, Intec Analyst: Mac Taylor, The Moriana Group Moderator: Jeremy Cowan, Editor, VanillaPlus

Register NOW for your FREE place at this webinar Online registration at www.vanillaplus.com Or call Charlie Bisnar on + 44 (0) 1732 844017 Or e-mail charlie@vanillaplus.com

Balaji Srinivasan

Monica Ricci

Mac Taylor

Jeremy Cowan

The Apple iPhone is arguably the ‘must-have’ handset for mobile operators and is valued, not just because users love it, or because of its technical excellence, but also because of the huge variety of content and applications available through the iTunes App Store. Apple’s view of its partnerships with developers has been pivotal to the global success of the iPhone. The lesson for operators is that partners must be a key component of the strategic mix, because no technology, however brilliant, can go far without the impetus of compelling content. The question for operators is therefore: how to empower, enthuse, incentivise and retain the community of creative content and application developers?

FREE to attend!

Attend this webinar and find out more about: • • • •

Content partnerships: how they are the key to a successful content strategy Practical measures: for operators to implement, to build and sustain successful content partnerships Incentives: how operators can incentivise partners, through flexible and efficient revenue distribution and settlement Partner self-care: why it is needed, and how it can be used to benefit both operators and their content partners

FREE TO ATTEND – REGISTER NOW AT WWW.VANILLAPLUS.COM About Intec Intec supplies solutions to over 60 of the world’s top 100 telecoms operators, with a vision to become the world’s most trusted supplier of BSS (Business Support Systems) solutions. Founded in 1997, Intec is listed on the London Stock Exchange (ITL.L).

To find out about hosting a webinar, contact: Cherisse Draper on + 44 (0) 1732 897646 or cherisse@vanillaplus.com or visit www.vanillaplus.com


REVIEW: BILLING & OSS WORLD, USA

“One app ... was live within three hours, proving that the OneAPI initiative works.”

Billing goes on the offensive in USA The annual Billing & OSS World (B/OSS) event took place in Washington, DC from 9-11 June. As Caroline Bloomer reports, a total of 60 speakers took the stage during the three-day conference. It was spread across four tracks: putting the customer first; supporting the business; billing goes on the offensive; and ‘partner sessions’ in which suppliers gave talks and presented case studies.

The author is Caroline Bloomer, Founder of communications company, Laurinus Creative.

One API One of the keynote speakers was Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO of the Canadian operator, Telus. Telus collaborated with Rogers and Bell, two other major operators in Canada, to pioneer the GSMA’s OneAPI initiative. This aims to define a common API that allows mobile (and other network) operators to expose useful network

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

information and capabilities to web application developers. The goal is to reduce the effort and time needed to create applications or content that is portable across mobile operators. One app that was tested but not adopted was live within three hours, proving that the OneAPI initiative works. The Canadian OneAPI Pilot provides a single gateway for application developers to use the OneAPI with all three operators in a commercial pilot that runs until July. APIs for Messaging, Location and Payment are available. PayPal, Aepona and Neustar are partners in the Canadian implementation. Other presentations covered a range of topics

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A Policy Summit offered two strands, one on US broadband policy and the second, led by Patrick Kelly, research director for Analysys Mason’s Telecoms Software group, on applying policy control. This took an in-depth look at policy management and some of the solutions available to operators to manage the network, using customer application of service controls based on customer preferences and charging limits.


including customer care, customer experience management, business assurance and next generation billing and charging. And almost 60 developers of software for telecoms operators took the opportunity to show their wares at the exhibition alongside the conference. Horizontal billing MetraTech publicised its MeetingZone collaboration portal that adds ease-of-use and self-service functionality for integrated conferencing and collaboration. The latest release of MetraNet 6.1 offers dynamic business modelling, reportedly enabling more rapid and synchronised configuration via Business Modelling Entities that cover cloud, smart grid, financial services, media & entertainment, and telecom. MetraNet 6.1 also has improved customer and self-care, enabling customers to interact more easily with their invoices statements and account structure. Both help telecom operators to customise their service more quickly – important with large enterprise accounts – without compromising performance or scalability. Scott Swartz, Founder, President and CEO of MetraTech, was one of the speakers during the conference. “Successful companies like MeetingZone put the customer first,” said Swartz. “We believe that every company should be able to provide customers with powerful, yet simple and easy-to-use billing and customer care. But flexibility and simplicity are often at odds in the world of technology. Our work with MeetingZone is a clear example of how flexibility with simplicity can be accomplished with an increased level of operational efficiency.”

on each service. Other processes ripe for business assurance attention, says the company, are customer management, credit control, collections, handset and dealer incentives management. Bringing these under control helps to ensure cost-effective operation and sustained profitability. Transparent pricing Redknee’s solution for real-time, two-way communication between operators and their customers reportedly enables operators to meet regulatory requirements associated with data roaming, prevent bill shock and drive data revenues. It also aims to help operators improve their customer relationships. Customers benefit from visibility of their tariff usage, transparent pricing plans and charges and the flexibility to change tariff plans or payment modes in real time. Operators gain visibility of their subscribers’ behaviour patterns, spending and communication, enabling them to deliver a contextually relevant and ‘personal’ service to end users – and to create opportunities for operators to up-sell and cross-sell services and increase revenue. Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) presented one of the ‘editor’s choice’ sessions at the conference on how to respond to new US postal regulation and use automated techniques to minimise returned mail and improve cashflow. On its stand, PBBI was exhibiting the newest release of its EngageOne Interactive and DOC1 multi-channel communication software, which is claimed to improve productivity, control and performance in customer communications.

Video presentation LHS was exhibiting at the event for the first time since its acquisition by Ericsson. LHS demonstrated the latest release of its BSCS iX end-to-end charging, billing and customer care system and its stand also offered visitors a video presentation of the new Ericsson-branded Charging and Billing suite. In addition, John Dye, Director of Systems Integration with Ericsson Service, Inc in the USA, was one of the conference speakers.

Service delivery automation The President and CEO of TIERONE, Paul Vedam, presented a paper on automating the delivery of data services, which was also the theme of the company’s exhibition stand. He explained that although automation benefits most carriers, few systems and processes were available to automate data service delivery. Companies, therefore, generally depend on manual efforts and actions for their business services, with automation applied only to consumer services and not to enterprise data.

Revenue assurance specialist, WeDo Technologies, used the exhibition to highlight its RAID revenue assurance platform, whose users now have 700 million subscribers under management. WeDo Technologies also promoted a wider assurance approach encompassing the whole business. One example is margin assurance, which aims to maximise margins on products and services and minimise operational and capital costs.

TIERONE’s NETPortal system deals with both the network and the services running on it to enable automated data service delivery. It discovers and interprets network and service topologies so that accurate information supports the automated service design, activation and monitoring. The system includes automation of complex data services and the delivery and management of Ethernet services with customer focus, speed and accuracy.

It is particularly important for CSPs that rely on third party providers to deliver new services, typically content provision and mobile commerce applications. It involves a detailed analysis of costs incurred in the provision of products and services, including sales commissions, third party payments and network operating costs. These factors directly impact the margins earned

VanillaPlus hosted an exclusive Webinar Case Study on June 22, entitled “Giving the Customer Control of their Services”, and featuring MetraTech’s CEO and MeetingZone’s President for North America. To watch this Free Webinar go to www.vanillaplus.com

Paul Vedam, TIERONE: Few systems and processes are available to automate data service delivery

Sergio Steiger, WeDo Technologies: 700 million subscribers under revenue management

Humera Malik, Redknee: Customers benefit from viewing their tariff usage

VanillaPlus Jargon Buster API = Application Programme Interface CSP = Communication Service Provider

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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ENABLING CUSTOMERS: VIDEO REVIEW

CUTTING TIME TO MARKET: Flexibility in existing frameworks is just waiting to be tapped One of the biggest hurdles for service providers today is how to push an abundance of new opportunities to market and bill for them effectively. In a video interview with Dewi Thomas of MDS VanillaPlus explores some of the options that can help them stay ahead. Unlock and boost revenue Companies leaning towards IT to be a catalyst of change might consider realigning their existing structures and their management. According to Dewi, a revisit and renew strategy could enhance that which is already in place, and taking this analytical approach, as a first step, could help to unlock and boost revenue.

To find out how aligning business processes with IT can shorten time to market for new services, and raise customer satisfaction, see the video at www.vanillaplus.com

The concept of finding and unlocking the potential within existing frameworks suggests that operators may be able to deliver valuable benefits, dramatically reduce the time to roll out new initiatives and, therefore, increase customer service. Georgina Firth reports.

The author, Georgina Firth, is an independent telecoms writer

Simply replicating existing processes will not drive the impact of change that many telecom operators seek. - Dewi Thomas, Martin Dawes Systems

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Jeremy Cowan, Editor of VanillaPlus, met up with Dewi Thomas, Managing Director of Martin Dawes Systems, at Management World 2010 in Nice, France, to find out how aligning business processes with IT can radically shorten the time to market, and up the ante on customer satisfaction. You can see the full discussion at www.vanillaplus.com Telecoms companies today are facing fiercer challenges than ever. A surge of device, application, infrastructure management and BSS developments has flooded the communications market in the last couple of years and, while these progressions can be largely considered beneficial to the industry, they have presented providers with a more dynamic, aggressive and competitive arena. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, the financial downturn has toughened the contest even further by forcing many IT project deployments on to the back burner. With customer expectations on the increase, keeping up is becoming an escalating concern for operators.

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

Dewi says that simply replicating existing processes will not drive the impact of change that many telecom operators seek. To date, such developments have often meant an overhaul of the system, either in whole or in part. But going straight for the jugular, by ripping out and replacing the customer care, service and billing infrastructure, is an expensive and lengthy process. In many cases this approach can take up to five or six years of trial and implementation before realising the business benefits. Dewi advises that, before embarking on such resource-burning projects, providers would be wise to revisit and review their existing infrastructure â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with a view to enhancement. Supporting the customer experience means business process improvement, yet all too often the focus has traditionally been fixed on the IT department. One way forward might be for operators to address a better marriage between their business processes and IT strategy. This methodology would include the consideration of opportunities presented by the cloud, as well as encouraging more collaboration between vendors, operators and integrators, rather than continuing to keep these elements in isolation. This lighter touch to boosting performance, as Dewi calls it, can reveal opportunities that may aid a telecom operatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s business strategy and offer the potential to significantly reduce the time to market. To learn more about how to intelligently align your business processes with IT, go to www.vanillaplus.com and click on the video link.


PREVIEW: CONTENT PARTNERSHIPS WEBINAR, 7 JULY

The strategic value of content partnerships Attend this Free VanillaPlus Thought Leadership webinar to hear more about: • Content partnerships: How they are the key to a successful content strategy • Practical measures: For operators to implement, to build and sustain successful content partnerships • Incentives: How operators can incentivise partners, through flexible and efficient revenue distribution and settlement • Partner self-care: Why it is needed, and how it can be used to benefit both operators and their content partners Although not the first smartphone, the iPhone is valued, not just because users love it, or because of its technical excellence, but also because of the huge variety of content and applications available through the iTunes App Store. That content, and those apps, are available because Apple has created an environment that encourages content developers to apply their creativity for the platform. In other words, Apple’s strategic view of its partnerships with developers has been pivotal to the global success of the iPhone. The future success of Apple’s iPad is also expected to depend on the breadth of content applications that will be developed specifically for it. Content and partners The lesson for operators is that partners must be a key component of the strategic mix, because no technology, however brilliant, can go far without the impetus of compelling content. The drivers for revenue will continue to be an intriguing and rapidly evolving eco-system of the frivolous and the practical, the individual and the corporate, but the creativity of a wellspring of content providers and developers must underpin the success of any platform. Get this right and a virtuous circle can develop, where the best creative talent is drawn to the platform, which in turn generates more subscriber interest. The strategic question for operators is therefore: How to empower, enthuse, incentivise and retain the community of creative content and application developers? There are many parts to the answer, but some key factors will be:

• Creating a financial incentive and payment structure that encourages partners to become involved • Devising day-to-day payment and business processes, including dispute resolution, that are fair, equitable and efficient and which can scale for growth • Automating content transactions from end to end; from purchase to delivery, payment and settlement, enabling full traceability of revenue that in turn ensures accurate and timely settlement, including adjustment refunds management • Providing partner self-care, including marketing intelligence. In this webinar, VanillaPlus will explore these factors in more depth and highlight practical issues that can, if well implemented, ensure that the marketing buzz translates into a revenue-generating, win-win content strategy. Where: Online, register FREE at www.vanillaplus.com

When: Weds 7 July, 2010 -09.00 (New York); 14.00 (London, Edinburgh); 15.00 (Paris, Berlin); 17.00 (Dubai); 21.00 (Singapore). Who: The Speakers are Monica Ricci, Product Director for Cross-Portfolio Marketing, Intec, and Balaji Srinivasan, Product Development Manager, Intec Settlements team. Analyst: Mac Taylor, CEO, The Moriana Group. Moderator: Jeremy Cowan, Editor & Founder of VanillaPlus.

The Speakers Monica Ricci is Intec’s Product Director for Cross-Portfolio Marketing, focused on synergies and value propositions across all elements of Intec’s BSS (business support system) portfolio. Monica has 20 years of experience in the communications industry, 15 of which have been working with BSS vendors delivering billing solutions and consulting with service provider customers to evolve their billing-related processes for wireline, wireless and next-generation services. With a BS in Physics and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Monica’s current focus is on understanding the drivers for new telecommunications business models, incorporating both customers and the growing assortment of partners in the operator value chain.

Balaji Srinivasan is a Product Development Manager in the Intec Settlements team, having been an original member of the InterconnecT team since Intec’s inception in 1997. With several years’ experience in the settlement business, Balaji is currently responsible for deploying Intec’s Content Partner Management / ICT system and is a prime contributor to Intec’s initiatives and strategy within the content market. He also works closely with Intec’s R&D team in Cape Town to help define product direction and future market requirements.

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EVENT PREVIEWS

Telecoms Customer Loyalty and Churn

This conference provides operators with a unique networking and knowledge gathering opportunity. As the only dedicated telecoms loyalty event in the market place, and with over 75% operator attendance year on year, there is no better place to meet leading experts in the field and benchmark customer

In 2010, as the global economy begins to show signs of recovery, the emphasis is evolving from leveraging customer expenditure as a retention strategy to optimising service, value add and technology offerings. This year’s programme, will give you the opportunity to hear how Vodafone Ireland are developing targeted one-to-one campaigns to optimise customer loyalty, how Telekom Austria are strengthening their customer base relationship through effective loyalty programme management and how Pannon, TEO and Vodafone Turkey are identifying their most valuable customers in order to optimise ROI.

FREE WEBINAR: The Strategic Value of Content Partnerships VanillaPlus Thought Leadership Webinar

Attend this free webinar and find out more about: • Content partnerships: how they are the key to a successful content strategy • Practical measures: for operators to implement, to build and sustain successful content partnerships • Incentives: how operators can incentivise partners, through flexible and efficient revenue distribution and settlement • Partner self-care: why it is needed, and how it can be used to benefit both operators and their content partners

5 – 8 July, 2010 Le Meridien, Nice, France www.iir-telecoms.com/LoyaltyVAPL

14.00hrs (London), 15.00hrs (Paris), 17.00hrs (Dubai), 09.00hrs (New York), 21.00hrs (Singapore) 7 July, 2010 www.vanillaplus.com

Telecoms World Congress 7-8 July, 2010 Okura Hotel, Amsterdam http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/twc/ Now in its 5th year, Telecom World Congress 2010 is where the world’s largest telecoms operators and their partners come together to discuss challenges and opportunities in 2010 and beyond. What's new in 2010 • Identify new revenue opportunities • Learn how to achieve revenue growth by investing in emerging markets, and by creating new revenue streams.

FREE WEBINAR: Managing customer-driven change 14.00hrs (London), 15.00hrs (Paris), 17.00hrs (Dubai), 09.00hrs (New York), 21.00hrs (Singapore) Thursday 22 July, 2010 (www.vanillaplus.com )

6th European EXPP Summit Initiatives and projects for automated invoice processing 11-12 October, 2010 Hilton Munich Park Hotel, Munich, Germany www.expp-summit.com More and more companies are changing over to automated, electronic invoicing processes. In comparison to paper-based methods, electronic processes offer huge savings potential within the financial supply chain. The European Commission, for instance, is expecting to save billions a result of its e-Invoicing, e-ID, e-Signatures and e-Procurement projects. The European EXPP Summit is one of the leading congresses on the subject of e-Invoicing and e-Billing. It is the main meeting place for all e-Invoicing experts from around Europe,

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The webinar will be moderated by Jeremy Cowan, Editor & Founder of VanillaPlus and hosted by Intec. Independent analysis of content partnerships in the communications sector will be provided by Mac Taylor, Founder & CEO of The Moriana Group. For more information go to: www.vanillaplus.com

• Save costs through network outsourcing and network sharing • Discover the business models that can save your business millions in the next decade. • Meet the industry’s most recognised and influential leaders • Network and do business with the leaders of the world’s biggest and fastest growing operators. Gain crucial insights into how they are driving their businesses forward. This year’s attendees will include: • 250+ senior executives from across the industry and the region • 40+ speakers addressing the big issues

MetraTech will host this webinar, the latest in the VanillaPlus Thought Leadership Series, which will be moderated by Jeremy Cowan, Editor & Founder of VanillaPlus. Independent analysis of the telecoms market and solutions will be provided by Dan Baker, CEO of Technology Research Institute (TRI). For more information go to: www.vanillaplus.com

offering a platform to gather and share information on the latest trends and developments. • Over 350 e-Invoicing, e-Billing and e-Document specialists and end users from more than 30 countries expected to attend • Around 30 system and service providers in the exhibition area will be presenting e-Billing, Electronic Invoicing and Electronic Statement Presentment solutions.


MANAGEMENT WORLD, NICE: REVIEW

TM Forum stirs interest in cloud, smart grid and defence, and delivers on ‘bread and butter’ Management World in Nice attracted a record 3,000 visitors this year. But what challenges were they seeking answers for at EMEA’s leading OSS and BSS event? Jeremy Cowan reports on everyday problems, new solutions and a bit of blue sky thinking. Martin Creaner is President of the TM Forum, organisers of Management World 2010, so who better to ask first for a view of what went on in Nice this year? “Among the key issues have been the level of adoption of TMF standards like eTOM (electronic Telecom Operations Map, or its Business Process Framework) and SID (its Information Framework), which has just exploded over the last 12 months,” he said. “Vendors are now using them partially or wholly; we’ve introduced conformance testing and been inundated with requests. Now there’s no more discussion of whether these tests are needed.” The TMF is also expanding its activities into the cloud, cable, and defence. “We had a session in the conference on strategies for buying, enabling and selling in the cloud,” added Martin Creaner, “and it was standing room only. We had to turn people away because of fire regulations.”

visitors this year were here because of it. Our strategy in the Forum is not just OSS but BSSbased, too.” With SmartGrid “popping up everywhere” as he put it, and without a smart business philosophy on top of smart metering, the Forum’s President believes that vendors will be able to sell provisioning and monitoring systems into whole new industries. Subscribers demand more Talking to operators and vendors at the event, it’s clear that the industry is shifting up a gear from what Bill Diotte, CEO of BroadHop described as

Other popular areas that he pointed to included policy management, revenue management, and the SmartGrid. “In revenue management there used to be just Amdocs and a few others with a foot in several camps. But I think about 20-25% of

Bill Diotte: It’s now about what you can do, not what you can’t

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MANAGEMENT WORLD, NICE: REVIEW

John Aalbers: Other operators are grasping the opportunity quite quickly

Dave Labuda: If transactions act like naughty 10 year-olds we sort them out

“We hear from operators that the Marketing Department does something brilliant and IT falls over.” - Dave Labuda, MATRIXX Software

“Policy 1.0”. In 2003 everyone still referred to policy management as ‘Service Control’. “It was a way of telling customers what they could and couldn’t do. It was bandwidth control, just for ‘bill shock’ management.

Change is coming “But you can’t help thinking that there’s a train coming down the tracks,” said VanillaPlus, “and these operators are still wondering if they should get off the tracks and onto the platform.”

“But service providers are under pressure from subscribers demanding more, third party providers pushing apps into the pipe, and regulators pressuring them to provide better services,” says Diotte. “Policy 2.0 needs to have an interactive relationship with subscribers. Instead of users getting frustrated with the limitations of service, service providers can give up- or downgrade options, allowing users to choose how to use the network.”

“Perhaps some of them are paralysed, to use your analogy, by the magnitude or speed of the train,” Aalbers replied. “Unfortunately, sometimes there has to be a crisis before there’s a reaction to it. I think it’s true that it’s the larger operators that are struggling more with the change. But it’s only a small number of operators; the others are grasping it quite quickly.”

There’s an app for that BroadHop has developed a new front end for this; its Smartphone Application Framework allows iPhone and Android mobile subscribers to select their quality of service level in real time. It can give you an alert if you move into a congested zone, or if a particular app is not available. It can also enable a voluntary downgrade to accrue ‘Network Points’ to redeem later when you really do need high quality network access. Another application called Policy Builder, part of BroadHop’s Quantum Network Suite allows network service providers to speed up application and service development. The benefits include being able to create and deploy new policies via an intuitive GUI (without proprietary scripting or coding), de-coupling app development from the network infrastructure, and a scalable virtual architecture to work with applications widely distributed across large numbers of servers. “Operators like Reliance, Maxis, and Saudi Telecom Company needed us to change the architecture,” said Diotte. “It’s now a question of what you can do, not what you can’t.” If policy control was once thought of as primarily a method of throttling bandwidth, is the industry now more alive to it as a positive business tool, with the potential to create personalised services that make more money for operators? VanillaPlus put that to John Aalbers, CEO of Volubill. “I think, more and more that’s starting to be recognised. Fewer people buy it because they’ve got to have a PCRF. In a session with six or seven operators there was a recognition of the need to get away from flat-rate charging,” he said. “Probably 70% of them see deeper market segmentation as the obvious way to do it, and policy management as a significant part of that. The other 30% still remain to be convinced that you can get customers to move off flat-rate pricing.”

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The team used OSS/CAD to discover and model dependencies among products, processes, systems, networks and customers. Once they had a model, OSS/CAD showed them the knock-on effects of product migration, letting them play through ‘what-if’ scenarios to determine the optimal order of migration steps to their strategic target. John Wittgreffe, Corporate ICT Chief Researcher at BT Innovate and Design, commented: "This win shows the ingenuity of the team and the importance of tools such as OSS/CAD to tackle complex problems in a new and exciting way. Our solution revealed benefits to the planning stage including 30-80% cost reduction, improved data cleansing, a trusted ‘one truth’ model, and importantly shorter planning times which bring forward the benefits of any migration exercise. This comfortably surpassed all the other manualand tool-based methods attempted." Mergers and new players Change has also come to Tekelec, which completed the purchase of Camiant and Blueslice Networks a few days before the show (See News, page 5). Mike Heffner, Director of Monitoring and Services Product Management, said: “There’s excitement in what we can do with the combined assets, with policy and subscriber management, simplification of architectures, validating service levels for subscriber provisioning, and handling utilisation constraints.” Do they, too, see the need for a more positive outlook for policy management? “You’re right,” he says. “Near term use cases are around survivability, but beyond that we’re looking at its positive aspects, to offer

In the bigger operators, says Aalbers, people are more likely to be speaking just for a particular department. They may just see the challenge as a network issue but not have an end-to-end view of the business. But the CFOs understand the marginal profitability of adding every subscriber.

Talking of tier 1 operators, BT carried off the TM Forum’s Innovation Award this year for its entry, Semantic Toolset to Optimise Business Transformations. Faced with managing major data transformation projects BT had turned to Ontology Systems. The latter uses semantics to unify OSS/BSS and infrastructure, and in this case in planning migrations from legacy to next generation products and services – in particular, understanding the mass of data around products, systems, networks, customers, and processes which may be held in a large number of legacy systems.


differentiated services and to (enable end users to) buy levels of service. Using subscriber data management (SDM) to offer personalised content will be another area that service providers can make money in.” Readers can expect a new product announcement from Tekelec in the next month, in performance management and policy. Meanwhile, he concedes there is some technological overlap between Tekelec and its new acquisitions. “(Tekelec) were planning Diameter routing, and don’t have to work on that now,” and the same seems to be true of SDM. Established in 2009 by Dave Labuda, co-founder of Portal Software (which he sold to Oracle in 2007), MATRIXX Software is a relative newcomer to the field of charging and policy control. MATRIXX aims to create a next generation architecture and transaction processing model, with four goals: high speed performance; durability and high availability; unlimited pricing support; and low cost per transaction. “In real-time charging, performance has to scale to handle peak loads while keeping latency low so that subscribers can connect without delay,” says Labuda. “Today’s online charging systems are sensitive to pricing and charging complexities, making it impossible for them to handle the load in real-time.” To compensate, service providers just throw more hardware at the problem causing massive increases in operational costs. As Labuda said in VanillaPlus (April/May 2010, pages S12-13), “What operators really need is a real-time charging solution that can process tens of thousands of transactions per second on a minimal set of off-the-shelf hardware.” Then, by interacting with the policy management system, the platform can send real-time alerts telling subscribers they’ve reached pre-defined spending limits and offering them tailor-made service extensions. It will come as no surprise that MATRIXX believes it has the answer. Talking to VanillaPlus in Nice, Labuda said: “We hear from operators that the Marketing Department does something brilliant and IT falls over. Why do Rating Engines get bogged down when rating gets complex? Why does the Policy Evaluation Engine get bogged down? Whether they’re rules- or data-based, they ‘think’ like humans. “We studied them, and concluded that the approach to managing transactions – which is based on 45 year-old architecture at IBM – the locking and blocking approach doesn’t scale unless you want a huge number of computers. Our database has no locks, it uses a high priority detect and repair model. Transactions run at speed and if they act like a naughty 10 year-old and block, we pull them apart and sort them out. And collisions are rare,” adds Labuda. “We can represent any kind of rating on Earth using our multi-dimensional system of linear equations. It’s a thousand times faster.

“We’ve now completed the first customer trial very successfully, and are in the middle of others. We’ll do a commercial release in October which will probably be seen first in Europe and the Middle East, where operators are keenly aware of the need to differentiate. We are empowering the business to micro-target subscribers. Now Marketing can try new stuff (on the network) and they won’t break it!” says MATRIXX’s CEO. Processes, not just systems Using software acquired two years ago when it bought Resolve Systems, GenerationE Technologies aims to improve telco efficiencies through process optimisation. In BSS/OSS, efficiency is too often constrained by the underlying vendor systems and as a result can be fractured across process areas. For example, coordinating remediation steps and diagnostic tests across different engineering teams requires significant manual work outside of the tools that support the tools for network monitoring, testing, and workforce management. When services are simple (e.g. a fixed phone line) these pockets of inefficiency are small, and manual interactions across systems and between groups do not pose a significant threat to operations. However, as CEO Casey Kindiger says, “When services are complex the pockets of inefficiency become substantial constraints on business efficiency.” GenerationE claims that its potential for OSS process automation offers a breakthrough in potential efficiency, allowing CSPs and other organisations to compete in an increasingly complex business environment. The system, called Resolve RBA, delivers this level of automation, saving CSPs up to thousands of hours in IT time, and substantial cost savings as well. A new version, RBA 3.0, will be launched at the end of September. Another company enjoying new-found opportunities is NetCracker, whose branding was everywhere at the show, reflecting the significant change within its Japan-based parent company, NEC which has now rolled all its telecoms operations and management systems into the NetCracker brand, under the guidance of President & CEO, Andrew Feinberg. The massively expanded portfolio now includes customer and service management, a wide range of service platforms, network management (where NetCracker made its name), plus professional and managed services. NetCracker brings us back to where we began this report, as it is expanding its offerings to nontelecom enterprises that are facing growing demands for more automated and operationally efficient networks. These include utilities that are planning and deploying smart grid programmes, high speed connectivity providers, storage and data centre providers, and government organisations. It’s already possible to see how the Nice event in 2011 might look.

Some of the 3,000 delegates debating OSS and BSS issues

Casey Kindiger: Pockets of inefficiency become major constraints on business efficiency

“There’s a train coming down the tracks, and they’re still wondering if they should get off the tracks and onto the platform.”

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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ROAMING

Segmentation is the key to greater roaming profits VanillaPlus was the first publication invited to attend MACH Insights in Rome in June. An annual gathering for 100 of MACH’s customers and partners, it was described by one of the hosts as “instant customer feedback, and a safe, open environment in which to discuss ideas”. Jeremy Cowan spoke to MACH’s Chief Commercial Officer, Morten Brogger, Senior Roaming Business Specialist, Diederik Hoekema, and Bahrain operator, Batelco’s Product Marketing Manager, Ali A Wahid AlFelaij, about building roaming profits. The most common trend in roaming right now is the dramatic transformation of the whole roaming business over the last few years. So says MACH’s Morten Brogger: “Three years ago I worked with an operator. Roaming was something that basically managed itself, it kept growing and everyone was happy. At the management meetings we barely spent five minutes over the two years I was there discussing roaming, despite the fact that it was a very significant part of that company’s revenue and earnings. “This has changed over the last year, and I call it

a change from wholesale to retail. A couple of years ago, initiated by all the bigger groups, they said ‘If you’re going to get all our volumes we’re going to need discounts’. The global financial crisis reinforced that dramatically.” This has transformed the structure of the roaming business. The discounts are so deep that the profit has moved to the ‘retail’ side, as Brogger calls it, to the network that owns the customer that is roaming. Build roaming usage In an environment like that, he says, if you really want to grow your roaming profit, you need to start stimulating roaming usage. Brogger is a master of understatement when he adds, “This was not a very rehearsed discipline within the marketing departments around the world.” So, questions about roaming are now being asked by small, medium and large operators. “Last week I talked to one of the largest operators in the world, asking us how to stimulate roaming usage. He said, "I've tried my own tests and they don't really work.”

Marketing departments have not really used roaming as a tool to strengthen the business, he contends. “My experience, from five years on the other side of the table, is that a telco business is extremely simple. First you spend a lot of money on

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infrastructure and solutions, then it’s all about three things: Customer acquisition; ARPU increase; and churn reduction. That's it. And roaming has never really been used in that equation," adds Brogger. Enterprise business In the enterprise sector, each big customer has different patterns. Some of the larger customers may need five price plans. MACH has just made a test case with a big contract that was up for renewal, getting together with them to analyse data and come up with a specific price plan. For example, they identified a group of engineers that travels a lot to China, and wondered how they can have a price plan that covers this. The executives might have to have a world plan, and there are other groups that travel a lot to CIS countries. How do you tailor a plan for them so that you win or keep their business when the average implementation time is six months, when as Brogger puts it, “the biggest queue in any operator is always the queue outside the billing department?” Once in a while the marketing people scream and shout, ‘we’re going to lose market share’ if we don’t get this product. “But trust me,” he says, “these products are always domestic, because that’s where the volume is.” Brogger asks rhetorically, “How do you manage several hundred roaming price plans in your billing system?” The company’s solution is called Re-Pricing, and they claim an average go-tomarket time of 6 weeks. ARPU profitability Among ex-patriate communities there will always be some who travel home frequently. You need to be able to identify this segment, and particularly the ARPU element within it. How do you identify them, tailor-make some roaming elements, and make sure that you have an above-average market share?

“Now we have a dialogue where the operator is forced to think like this,” he says. “And if you can use (this system) to attract new customers you can use it to reduce churn.” If you can take care of them on roaming, maybe you can give them a little bit less discount on the domestic side, which is very costly to the bottom line. Segmentation is the key to profitability; avoid the shotgun approach. One operator told MACH that they had offered a discount on all calls back home during the cricket World Cup in South Africa. But MACH questioned whether people who travel to watch these matches are pricesensitive. Data roaming is a huge growth area, but a significant percentage of everyone who roams never uses data because they are afraid of getting a massive bill. We all know roughly what voice costs, but with data you have no feeling for it. Consequently, one of the ideas that has received positive comments is ‘Pre-paid Data for Post-paid Customers’. Users can roam for €20 of data a month. When you use that up you get an SMS asking if you’d like to roam for another €20. And it’s just as applicable to corporate user groups as to consumers. Roaming service quality “Operators are also focusing much more these days on quality and the kind of services they can offer,” says Diederik Hoekema. “When I worked at an operator six years ago the aim was to get as many roaming partners as we could. You didn’t make a business case for any roaming agreement.” Today, the focus of operators is changing to offer a seamless roaming experience, so that the subscriber can always use the same services as in his home network, with the same quality of experience.

Morten Brogger, MACH: How to stimulate roaming usage

Diederik Hoekema, MACH: Focus on seamless roaming experience

“Stimulating roaming usage was not a rehearsed discipline within marketing departments.” - Morten Brogger, MACH

Customer snapshot: Batelco, Bahrain Batelco was one of the first operators to use the Link2One roaming hub. “We’ve deployed several services such as voice and GPRS, and hopefully we’ll add more services,” says Batelco’s Ali A Wahid AlFelaij. “We’re the incumbent operator in Bahrain so our use of the hub is different from the new operators who want to have instant reach to other telcos. Our reason was to add extra services to our portfolio.” Batelco began using the hub in this way in December 2009 and it has helped them to launch services much faster with many different operators, especially in North America where he says it’s hard to contact them because of the time difference.

Ali A Wahid AlFelaij, Batelco: Using hub to add extra services

MACH in profile MACH is a global provider of hub-based mobile communications exchange systems. Founded in 1987, more than 50% of the world’s roaming calls are processed through MACH systems, and the company reports that over 60% of all NRTRDE files are processed and verified in its hub. Headquartered in Luxembourg, MACH has offices in 12 countries and employs more than 1,000 people worldwide.

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D A T A

R O A M I N G

EXPERT OPINION:

Summer’s coming – but is your data roaming service ready? Holiday season is upon us again, a time to put your feet up, says David Knox, relax and take a well earned break away. But for operators, this is also the time when the pressure is really on to make sure that their charging models are up to scratch, ensuring that their customers do not experience ‘bill shock’ when they return home and that their systems are prepared to cope with the demands of users accessing data services in far-flung corners of the globe.

The author, David Knox, is Global Product Marketing Manager, Acision

It is no surprise that mobile users are making greater use than ever before of their mobile phones and smartphones while abroad. Mobile data coverage has improved even in the remotest areas and consumer behaviour patterns have also changed, making staying connected while abroad just as important as it is when at home. The mobile phone is no longer solely ‘for emergencies’ or to check in with friends and family at home: for many people, it serves as an entertainment system, travel guide, concierge and companion all rolled into one. Holidaymakers will use it to listen to music, play games and watch videos while stuck in an airport or lounging on the beach. They will make use of apps and online review sites to choose where to eat and stay, as well as to book connecting flights or train tickets. They will, of course, also use their device to stay in touch with loved ones, making calls, sending MMS and SMS, as well as accessing social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep everyone up to date on their adventures. Bill shock still likely All of these demands mean a significant increase in data traffic, and despite the EU roaming legislation introduced last year, it seems that the likelihood is fairly high of a significant number of customers experiencing ‘bill shock’ when they get back from their trip abroad. Mobile subscribers certainly have a long way to go in terms of getting to grips with roaming.

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Huge revenue opportunities If the legislation has got it right, this is a massive opportunity for operators: if they are able to alleviate customers’ fears while responding to their needs, the revenue opportunities for further growth in data usage abroad are hugely significant. The Acision research also revealed that 42% of consumers would love to use their mobiles more abroad if they could set a cap on their spending, giving them the control and freedom to use their mobiles, without the worry of running up a costly bill. Consumers also said they would feel more at ease if their operator offered roaming bundles, with 67% saying that they would purchase a bundle to call and text home while on holiday. But it’s not just calls and texting that consumers are interested in while on holiday – 11% would also like to buy a data package to access the internet for a variety of things, including email and social media. Further to that, 22% would like to access social networking sites, 18% would like to watch TV, and 11% would like to download TV programmes or movies. Progress already made Significant progress has already been made towards meeting these requirements. The first key stage of the EU roaming legislation was rolled out in July 2009 and saw the implementation of caps on the cost of messaging, web browsing and making voice calls while within the EU zone, as well as the introduction of per second billing after the first 30 seconds of a voice call. As a result, average

Research conducted by Acision last year found a staggering lack of awareness of roaming charges, with nearly two thirds of consumers completely unaware of the costs associated

with using their mobile phone abroad, and only 10% feeling that they were being charged a fair price for roaming.


roaming charges for users in the EU have already been cut by around 50%, with further reductions planned. A key function of these new rules was to ensure far greater transparency for mobile users on the actual costs of using their phones overseas. However, it is yet to be seen whether the legislation has achieved this particular goal. This summer will be one of the first real tests of whether the initial caps placed on costs will be able to harness the real potential of roaming for both consumers and operators. From July 2010, we are expecting to see the next phase of the legislation rolled out, where it will be mandatory to offer real-time spending limits and a cut-off facility to subscribers using data roaming services. The operator must assign a default spending limit of €50 per month for data services, and enforce this limit in real time. However, rather than simply being cut off when they hit their limit, they should receive a notification when they have reached 80% of the limit, with the option to extend their limit before being cut off.

“42% of consumers would use their mobiles more abroad if they could set a cap on their spending.” (Source: Research for Acision)

Of course, to effectively implement these new roaming models requires charging systems that give both operators and consumers access to accurate, real-time account information, as well as the flexibility to support roaming service bundles, real-time spend limits, user notifications and self-care based recharge. Personalised charging, multiservice bundles and ‘design your own’ tariff plans are becoming ever more popular, as consumers look for better value and more flexibility over the way they are charged for services. The EU legislation only adds to the pressure on operators looking to achieve competitive advantage as well as compliance. The success of the legislation relies heavily on achieving a very fine balance between consumers’ increasing need to be always connected via their mobile device, and their wish to stay in control of the amount they pay for this. Operators need to deploy an appropriate technology platform to help them meet these requirements and better serve consumers’ needs. The legislation not only means a fairer deal for consumers but with the right technology solution, operators can encourage their subscribers to use their mobiles more frequently while abroad, providing them with valuable revenue opportunities. VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

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D ATA

ROAMING

Operators are on the case as new EU rules take the sting out of roaming Driven by the rapid take-up of smartphones in the consumer market and the availability of low-cost 3G dongles, mobile data services have moved from being the preserve of enterprise users into the mass market. But, as Steve Costello reports, there still remains an important opportunity for mobile data which has yet to be successfully addressed: roaming.

The author, Steve Costello, is a freelance telecoms writer

Artur Michalczyk, MACH: Visited networks don’t know what services subscribers are using

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Real-time billing needs In order to provide customers with warnings when approaching pre-set spend limits, and to ensure the €50 cut off is enforced, operators need to be able to accurately monitor service usage in real time. This requires the ability for the visited network to swiftly pass accurate usage data to the home operator, in order for timely notifications to be sent when a customer approaches their spending limits.

Artur Michalczyk, Chief Operating Officer for Data Clearing at MACH, notes: “This lack of transparency is actually a big inhibitor. Even though it is transparent in one way, because the user knows how much they will pay per megabyte, this does not correspond with the user experience.”

Simo Isomaki, Vice President of Dynamic OSS Solutions at Comptel Corporation, said that this presents a change of mindset for operators. “When you are serving your home subscribers, you don’t necessarily need to treat the usage data in real time. You can run your post-paid billing cycle on a once per day basis, there is flexibility for operators to assess the charges made to customers. But when you look at a roaming scenario, it is of upmost importance that you treat roamers in a way that is absolutely accurate, in-session, so that they know the usage charges that are being accumulated.”

EU regulations control costs In order to address the potential problem of ‘bill shock’, the European Union has introduced regulations that control how mobile operators deal with subscribers using roaming data services, including a €50 cap on spending unless a customer specifically optsout, and clear availability of data pricing information. In this instance, the EU is leading the way, and its actions are likely to be monitored by regulators in Asia and North America as they review their own strategies for managing roaming data services. Meeting the EU’s deadline has presented its own challenges for operators. David Knox, Global Product Marketing Manager at Acision, said: “We’ve spoken to some operators that have solutions in place, and then others that are not so well advanced, who have been granted a couple of months of leeway by the regulator. I think some of them are a little behind the curve, but I would say that pretty much all the major operators are on top of it.”

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

Acision’s David Knox indicated that this need for real-time data billing services is likely to be echoed when serving home subscribers, as operators move away from unmetered packages to segmented mobile data tariffs. “I think the same capabilities will be necessary on home networks, for home subscribers, because people will again want that visibility of what they are spending without having to keep an eye on it themselves,” he said. Simo Isomaki also highlighted the commonalities between the needs of roaming data subscribers and home customers: “I think that if a service provider takes roamers as a stand-alone silo, that leads to a very, very big cost exercise. And it’s not even necessary to

David Knox, Acision: People want to show their friends at home what they are up to

The biggest barrier for the adoption of mobile data services by roamers has been cost, a fact underlined by frequent press reports of massive bills received by unwitting subscribers for data use when overseas. With customers often signed up for bundled data packages in their home market, meaning that services can be used without concern over costs, the per-megabyte model used when roaming is both unfamiliar and unclear.


do that, because you can build a solution that is generic enough to be applied to your inbound roamers but also to your own subscribers, across fixed and mobile networks, for example, when an operator is a convergent player. I think that that is a very, very valuable thing to be understood — if the service provider thinks of roaming as a standalone, they’ll spend a lot of money on that.” MACH’s Artur Michalczyk also noted another shortcoming with data roaming services: “The visited networks are not service aware, they do not know what kind of traffic the subscribers are using.” This means that operators are unable to tier mobile roaming data charges, with higher-value services costing more than basic web browsing, because of the inability to accurately discern the activities of individual customers. Driving service use The backdrop of concern over the potential for ‘bill shock’ has led to consumers largely abandoning roaming data services, leaving them for corporate users, where the employer picks up the bill. The introduction of usage caps will provide customers with some degree of confidence to use services while knowing what the maximum spend levels will be, while the introduction of real-time billing and notification capabilities will provide operators with the chance to up-sell additional data allowances.

value consumers who move frequently between neighbouring countries, for example with a special ‘day rate’ available for occasional users. “You can still create a variable set of segments, and provide targeted services, and I’ve seen some great results from when these were launched,” she said. Acision’s David Knox believes that despite the currently lukewarm reception, data roaming is something that will appeal to consumers: “People like to go away and still be able to put status updates on Facebook, or upload pictures if they are away somewhere nice — they want to show their friends back at home what they are up to.”

Humera Malik, Redknee: Zain created segmented roaming packages targeting high and low value users

“It is of upmost importance that roamers ... know the usage charges that are being accumulated.” - Simo Isomaki, Comptel

Humera Malik, Director of Product Management at Redknee, warned that while bill shock needs to be removed, this alone is not enough. “Operators also need to be aware that if they are not able to provide me something as an alternative, if they are not able to provide me with an alert or incentive to upgrade at that time, leaving me stranded without service is not a good experience either. If operators are providing subscriber-centric controls which are relevant, that’s what is going to help provide the right business models for them.” She also quoted the example of Redknee’s work with Zain, the Middle East and African operator group. Zain has created a number of segmented roaming packages targeting users from high value enterprise customers, down to lower VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

49


C L O C K I N G

O F F !

Almost appearance by Gibb and Jones signals OSS/BSS ‘horizontalisation’ This year’s Management World conference in Nice, threw up several surprises, not least that this OSS/BSS market isn’t just a telecoms thing any more, writes George Malim.

The author is freelance writer, George Malim.

“It’s a ‘horizontalisation’ not a ‘detelecomisation’.” - Keith Willetts, TM Forum

Robin Gibb was sad to miss the conference

A new tone was set for me at the TM Forum’s Management World conference last month. I had plenty of departure lounge time to marshal my thoughts before the event, as volcanic ash led me on a tour of UK airports that culminated in a grossly expensive final seat on a British Airways flight to Nice. That marshalling of thoughts, particularly in relation to the customer care interface of Easyjet (CRM) and the blatant lying about flight availability by a number of online travel providers (order management, service fulfilment, billing), brought a recognition that everything everywhere has OSS/BSS (I see Orange/T-Mobile didn’t take my suggestions from last issue) and much of it isn’t good. That theme was amplified at the show with vendors saying they are entering new markets outside their traditional carrier heartland. MetraTech, a company I had always associated almost exclusively with telecoms billing, now reports that more than 50% of its revenues are generated from outside telecoms and counts City of Chicago Airport, London’s new bicycle hire scheme and Microsoft Online SaaS among its customers. Others have also been operating outside telecoms for some time. Highdeal, the rating and settlement specialist acquired by SAP at the time of last year’s show, has continued its push into other markets under new ownership and now targets the transport and logisitics, financial services and media entertainment sectors, in addition to telecoms, with its SAP Convergent Charging offering.

has so many thoughts about telecoms operations that he has to invent new words to describe them. “It’s a ‘horizontalisation’ not a ‘detelecomisation’,” he added. Even so, that perhaps explains why several unexpected celebrities were converging on Nice on the eve of the Forum. The Monaco Grand Prix had finished and the Cannes Film Festival was yet to start, so the Forum is the sole reason I can think of for heading to Nice on a Monday night in mid-May. Nevertheless, singer Grace Jones was heading out on the same flight as me, and Olivier Suard, marketing director of Comptel, travelled out with Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees. That suggests a far greater horizontalisation in the attraction of the Forum than I, or I suspect Willetts, had envisaged. I do, however, have to point out that I saw neither Ms Jones nor Mr Gibb roaming the halls of the Acropolis Centre. Perhaps next year.

‘It’s all delivery of digital services’ The TM Forum itself is keen to get in on the act having turned away from its previous strategy of targeting specific verticals. “When you boil it all down, it’s all delivery of digital services. What the flavour is matters less to the Forum than the fundamentals of billing and settlement,” said Keith Willetts, co-founder and chairman of the board of directors at TM Forum, a man who

50

VANILLAPLUS JUNE/JULY 2010

Another low profile appearance by Grace Jones.


t ith en m W end fro RI T p s de si r, In aly ake An n B Da

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Dan Baker

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Vanillaplus June-July 2010  

Vanillaplus Magazine - Insight and analysis for global Communication Service Providers

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