Global network super vendors have traditionally used their size and reach to deliver economies of scale to global operators that agile, independent and innovative competitors have struggled to compete with. This is especially true in BSS. Quite often, the latest technological advancements in BSS have been overlooked by operators as global vendors offer basic functionality for free as part of broader worldwide roll outs. These large organizations baffle operators with tales of potential integration and interoperability issues tied to technology swap out and convince them they’re getting a lot for nothing at all.
This has led to widespread vendor lock in that is stifling global innovation. For many years most operators have struggled with being locked into complicated and clunky legacy systems by large vendors. The issue has been complicated by the Network Equipment Providers (NEP) themselves and their broad-brush approach to proprietary, non-interoperable and cumbersome OSS/BSS technology.
Escaping the legacy
But technologies like NFV/SDN represent the future in terms of mobile network innovation. Virtualisation in particular is bringing a huge change to BSS by allowing faster time to market for new products, and leveraging an agility and flexibility not previously available due to lower risk. Virtualisation represents a significant opportunity for mobile operators to untangle themselves from a long period of vendor lock-in and embrace OSS/BSS innovation.
The ability to virtualize key network functions means it has never been easier to integrate and trial new BSS technologies and capabilities. By disproving all the talk of ‘risk’ from the global vendors, the scene is set for best of breed specialist vendors to make their mark and take the industry forward.
The introduction of SDN and NFV means independent vendors can easily offer agile and flexible OSS/BSS systems that enable a raft of new lucrative use cases like sponsored data, shared data plans and VoLTE. But most importantly, benefits of virtualized BSS can be realised without a big bang rip and replace of existing systems: New services can be enabled using an NFV/SDN solution as an adjunct deployment, in parallel with the existing legacy network.
Reaching its full potential
However, in order for operators to gain a competitive edge in this exciting time, virtualization alone is not enough. To reap the benefits discussed, independent BSS vendors need a rich library of use cases that are developed, tried and tested.
Virtualization decouples network services from the physical hardware, removing the need to create a full hardware-based environment for each service introduction and simplifying the deployment process. This will enable operators to drive much faster time to market for new services such as VoLTE, shared data plans and sponsored data compared to existing legacy BSS infrastructure. Roll-outs will no longer rely on the availability of a team of engineers– with an estimated six-month delivery time. The implementation of new use cases will be possible within days enabling operators to quickly see if the service will be a success and offer a return on investment. This will leave operators able to focus on creating new revenue streams without having to deal with issues around integration, deployment and infrastructure management.
Achieving global traction
NFV will enable smaller independent BSS and OSS specialists to deliver additional value that global network super vendors are unable to. This includes enabling additional use cases such as sponsored data, shared data plans and VoLTE QoS management. The standard NEP ‘one size fits all’ approach will not deliver this additional value, regardless of whether cloud infrastructure is embraced or not.
This is an exciting time for best of breed specialist vendors to make their mark on the industry.
Shane O’Flynn is General Vice President of Product and Solution Management for Openet.
Filed Under: Infrastructure