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Making the most of the core: Oracle

Doug Suriano, CTO of Tekelec, part of Oracle Communications, talks to Telecoms.com at MWC2014 about innovative data plans operators can offer to customers.

He also talks about Diameter singalling as a natural extension of SS7 as operators move more into the LTE domain.

Telecoms.com

Nexterday North 2017 Re-Invents the Core of the Digital and Communications Industry

Comptel Corporation, now a Nokia company, today unveiled the scope of its third annual Nexterday North “anti-seminar,” taking place 19-21 September 2017 in Helsinki, Finland. Click here for more.


Cellular News

Sprint Launches C3PO andndash; Open Source NFV/SDNandndash;Based Mobile Core Reference Solution

Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced the availability of C3PO (Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization – CUPS: Control andamp; User Plane Separation), an open source NFV/SDN-based mobile core reference solution designed to significantly improve performance of the network core by providing a clean, streamlined, high-performance data plane for the packet core. Click here for more.


Cellular News

Core services manager, VIPnet, Croatia: “Hybrid fibre coaxial networks hit tremendous speeds“

Hrvoje Jerković, core services manager, for VIPnet, Croatia

Hrvoje Jerković, core services manager, for VIPnet, Croatia is speaking in the Traffic Management track on Day Three of the Broadband World Forum 2012, taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak with him about VIPnet’s launch of LTE and its planned upgrade to a DOCSIS3 fixed-line cable network.

What were the major developments and milestones for you over the past year?

This year Vipnet continued to develop and set the trends in the Croatian mobile industry, launching a commercial LTE network that has strengthened Vipnet’s market leader position of mobile broadband in Croatia. LTE will be basis for many new business scenarios for Vipnet in the future.

Exponential growth of mobile data traffic led us towards developing multiple network layers. LTE was a natural evolution after the implementation of HSPA+. With HSPA+ our customers can now achieve speeds up to 42Mbps until the full national coverage of LTE takes its role. Simultaneously in August 2011, Vipnet acquired B.net, the largest Croatian cable operator that offers fixed telephony, broadband internet access and television services in order to provide fully convergent fixed line and mobile voice/data/video solutions to our customers.

Is fibre-to-the-premises really necessary or is fibre-to-the-home enough to handle upcoming data demands?

Most of us can agree that fiber is the future but to what extent it should be used is primarily a business decision. On the one hand, it is obvious to go to the premises if there is a real business need. But, as most of the premises already have existing infrastructure, you have to make a decision as to whether there is a real business need and a business case. Fibre is fragile, and you need to pull it through ducts, which makes implementation costs higher. General FTTx cost breakdown shows us that construction takes the biggest part with more than 50 per cent of total costs. At this point in time, the best strategy is to go with FTTP if there is an existing infrastructure for it or a real business need. Otherwise, FTTH is just fine.

Hybrid fibre coaxial networks are achieving tremendous speeds.  In May of 2012 Vipnet demonstrated 4.3Gbps speed over HFC Eurodocsis 3.0 standard, setting a world record at that time. The main advantage of this technology is the combination of multiple frequency blocks, by which the unit transfer rates per block are multiplied, thereby, achieving extraordinary results. EuroDOCSIS3.0 technology is an upgrade to the existing Vipnet or B.net fixed-line network, which significantly accelerates implementation because it does not require any installation work inside of homes or buildings. All of this is showing that there is still huge potential in hybrid networks.

Net neutrality is of concern politically right now. To what extent is it of concern to you internally?

As a member of Telekom Austria Group, Vipnet is fully committed to provide open access for all its customers to all legal content, applications and services available on the public internet. Even without any additional regulation, a competitive environment strongly pushes operators to give customers access to content, applications and services with the best possible QoS. We’re confident network operators must be able to continue to ensure the prevention of unwanted traffic, such as spam and malware and allow for the effective and time-sensitive delivery of traffic that requires priority (e.g. emergency services, health monitoring, HD videoconferencing). If one operator excluded access to certain content or degraded the QoS to an unacceptable degree, customers would simply switch as soon as possible to another access provider.

Where do you stand on bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?

The question is whether traffic management could be used against the best interests of customers. Assuming that network management measures are sufficiently transparent for customers to make a well-informed buying decision, competitive forces in the access markets will immediately penalise those “abusing” traffic management. It is, however, highly questionable if traffic management alone will be enough to serve all future capacity needs.

One of the problems is that application developers look at the mobile data network the same way as they look on fixed line, so they don’t limit their applications in any way to offload signaling traffic. And why should they? Operators are offering affordable data prices and applications are utilising it. On the other hand, the average smartphone user has tens of applications installed that frequently sync themselves with servers and the only problem as far as the customer is concerned is that battery life is reduced.

In the end, competition will prevent operators from relying too much on traffic management. Customers will always choose the network operator that provides the highest speeds with the fewest usage restrictions and operators have a strong incentive to offer exactly that – fast and unrestricted internet access – in order to prevent customers from churning to another provider.

What will you be doing to ensure wider coverage to those areas that are currently underserved by fast broadband?

LTE and HSPA+ are considered to be fast broadband technologies. Vipnet is the only  operator  in Croatia to have introduced DC-HSPA. It’s present on 60 per cent of Vipnet’s 3G sites and can deliver 42Mbps.  Our 3G coverage deployment was focused on very high frequency (2100MHz), comparing to GSM (900MHz), therefore 99 per cent population coverage has not yet been achieved. Introduction of UMTS900 (3G on 900MHz band) changes this trend and its deployment will speed up improvements of 3G coverage substantially.

Regarding LTE, this spring Vipnet launched the commercial LTE in Croatia on 1800MHz,. Current network deployment is focused on the biggest cities, but coverage will expand  in the next years. LTE coverage deployment in rural areas are dependent on the 800MHz digital dividend frequency band being freed-up following the migration of TV broadcasts from the analogue to digital domain. The Croatian telecom regulator started activities on this migration years ago and completed this in 2011—the 13th country in the world to make this an important step. Unfortunately, neighboring countries have not followed the same trend, which will delay the introduction of LTE800 for several years until we get the opportunity to deploy such a network for the Croatian coast and similar areas.

What are the key challenges you expect to face over the next 12 months?

Convergent services and offers are likely to be one of the key challenges in the next year. Extending LTE to a national level and even more complex traffic management will spice things up. On the other hand several factors will influence business, such as tariffs, OTT players and the competitive market in general. On one hand we have a hi-tech automated, optimised network, and on the other hand we have customers so one of our main focuses will be keeping those things together and as close as possible. The recent achievements of our customer experience management team shows us that customers and hi-tech networks can be utilised not only to serve customer needs, but to lead operator’s development in a direction that customers are expecting.

Why is your attendance at this event so important for you and your company and what aspect are you looking forward to most?

This event offers a good opportunity to meet people from business. It is focusing on area that everyone perceives as huge potential in upcoming years. It’s a great opportunity to see how other operators are handling challenges of the upcoming years, and also, what vendors have to offer to support operators broadband business. We are really looking forward to get some new ideas and approaches regarding future business. Usually brainstorming with the people from the telco area can produce some fresh views and predict new trends.

Broadband World Forum 2012 is taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Click here now to register your interest.

telecoms.com – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Wireless Packet Core Revenue Expands Over 17 Percent Year-on-Year

The overall Wireless Packet Core market grew more than 17 percent during the third quarter of 2013 versus the year-ago period, Click here for more.


cellular-news

Tampnet selects Ericsson for LTE and virtualized core network

Tampnet has selected Ericsson to upgrade the operator’s existing 2G network in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here for more.


Cellular News

Improving the customer experience through core number management

The availability of numbers as a resource is coming under threat

Mobile phone numbers are key assets that have been taken for granted and undervalued by the mobile industry for years.  They are consumed in their thousands every day.  They are acquired, upgraded, re-assigned and switched from one operator to the next.  They are used to lure new subscribers in with tempting deals and thrown away without a second thought.

The growth of mobile, attrition rates and pre-paid SIMs has contributed to the highest consumption of numbers the industry has ever seen.  As a result, the availability of numbers as a resource is coming under threat.

For many operators across EMEA, numbers are actually running out.  Numbers are now heavily regulated and operators must prove a real need before they are given new ones.  If numbers are lost or unaccounted for, then it’s the operators’ responsibility to find them, clean them and reassign them to a new customer.  Therefore, it can be a daunting task for operators to manage the lifecycle of each number without losing track.

The customer lifecycle

Subscribers expect their phone to work with no exceptions.  So from a number management perspective, operators accurately need to see, track and manage what a customer does with their number throughout their lifecycle in real time.

To retain and acquire new customers, operators must have the capabilities in place to cope with the influx of new number requirements.   However, today’s customer journey is posing core operational and logistical issues that are consuming valuable resources.

Simple daily operations such as ensuring the subscriber’s number is assigned to the right device at the right time can pose significant challenges.  It can be difficult to determine the status of the numbers an operator owns at any point in time.  Many operators need to manually search their records to find numbers, looking through disparate billing systems and information silos to find a number that urgently need to be reported or reassigned.  Operators are forced to waste critical resources and it is likely the situation will only get worse over time.

Looking beyond Europe

Operators in the Middle East don’t provide subsidized handsets.  These operators compete through pre-paid SIM card deals instead.  As a result, subscribers jump from one operator to the next, consuming countless pre-paid SIM cards and phone numbers.  When they run out of minutes on their pre-paid SIM card, the subscriber is likely to buy a new one with the operator offering the best deal.

Operators in Africa, on the other hand, report that the huge growth of mobile has come with subscribers owning multiple SIM cards at the same time.  Many subscribers purchase one SIM card for international calls and one for local calls.  In some cases, the subscriber will purchase a SIM card for each circle of contacts.  All these SIM cards come with their own mobile number.  This becomes a number management nightmare determining the numbers that are in use and the numbers that can be repurposed.

When we look at how many numbers are being consumed globally every day, we begin to realize that the surge in the growth of mobile creates a contradiction that is bittersweet.  On one hand, operators can easily acquire new subscribers.  On the other hand, they have the headache of managing the thousands of numbers consumed by subscribers every day.

The customer experience

Unfortunately, subscribers are often surprised when their phones don’t work. Here are some of the examples of where the customer experience can fail:

  • The pre-paid SIM card, which they’ve kept for emergencies with 20 Euros credit on it, doesn’t work and says it’s been deactivated.
  • They get home from buying their new smart phone and their SIM says it’s deactivated because the operator has already assigned it to someone else.
  • They upgrade their service using a new dynamic SIM and no one can contact them, as their number hasn’t been ported to their new SIM card.

In order to resolve these issues, the mobile number, SIM card and any other service resources must all be located within seconds.  Without effective number management, operators increase the risk of numerous points of failure along the customer journey. With the average customer acquisition cost in Europe at around 100 Euros, failure just isn’t an option.

Unlocking revenues

New revenues also can be realized quickly by reselling vanity numbers – often called “Golden Numbers”.  In many cases, a vanity number will be deactivated but left in the system until a customer asks for it.  Instead, operators can proactively allocate them as a new revenue opportunity, customer acquisition or relationship tool.  These numbers are in limited supply and it is crucial to release them quickly once they are not in use so they can be resold.  Vanity numbers that are never reclaimed are lost revenue.

Getting the basics right for growth

To be able to scale, acquire and retain customers, and launch new innovative services, operators need to ensure the basics are properly in place first.  This means whether a subscriber decides to change a SIM card, service or even their operator, they must be seamlessly supported through efficient number management. Operators need to be able to provide intelligence on the status of any one number at any one time through reporting and analytics.  Integration with third parties is crucial to be able to grow, and systems need to be automated and easily integrated into billing systems to accurately forecast customer demand.

With effective number management, operators will have strong foundations in place to provide new services to customers and create a cutting edge by providing the best possible customer experience.

Steve Summer is VP Sales EMEA, Neustar Inc.

telecoms.com – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Polish operators open core to combat OTT threat

OTT services are seen a a big headache for carriers

Polish carriers Orange, T-Mobile and Polkomtel have banded together with local developers and academic institutions to create an ecosystem designed to address the growing competition posed by Over The Top (OTT) providers.

The operators have deployed an open service layer within their core networks to accelerate deployment of innovative and low cost communication services with a healthy balance between cooperation and competition.

“Our true competition comes not from the other operators within Poland, but from the OTT players. If subscribers on two separate networks want to chat or share video on their phones but their operators don’t offer the service they’ll use gTalk, Viber, Facebook or similar. To combat this we must cooperate: on open technologies, platforms and communities,” said Grzegorz Sikora, Intelligent Network Expert, T-Mobile.

Telecoms software firm OpenCloud delivered the open standards-based service layer to the carriers and claims the model has given those involved a sharper competitive edge to attract developers.

According to Jeff Gordon, CEO of OpenCloud, device-side apps such as those found in the popular application stores, generate little incremental revenue for mobile operators. Yet, the success of these apps demonstrates the power of innovation from the independent developer community and mobile operators are able to benefit from the same model but in a different way.

“To counter the threat from OTT players, and boost their revenues, operators need innovation within the network and not just in device apps. However, delivering innovation in the core network has, historically, been an expensive and slow process,” Gordon said.

In a poll currently being run by telecoms.com OTT is posing the biggest industry headache for the operator community.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.
telecoms.com – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Swisscom selects Ericsson for cloud infrastructure and NFV of core network

Ericsson has been selected as supplier by Swisscom to transform its core network in Switzerland through the deployment of a telco cloud infrastructure and virtual network functions of its mobile core. Click here for more.


Cellular News

Latin America’s first virtualized core network live with Digicel

Ericsson has deployed a complete network functions virtualization (NFV) solution to the core network of Caribbean operator Digicel. Click here for more.


Cellular News