BSS days live 2020: highlights so far
With 83 percent of smartphone users saying that communications technology has helped them cope with lockdown restrictions, the importance of the ICT industry has only been underlined in recent months. However, despite the pandemic proving the true value of the telecommunications sector, it still created some challenges. Data traffic is up 40 percent – driven largely by an increase in video steaming and instant messaging – while roaming revenue is down 80 percent. This, coupled with 5G rollouts and a changing competitor landscape, has had a significant impact on service providers’ Business Support Systems (BSS). As a result, it’s never been more important for experts to come together and discuss the future of BSS.
The virtual BSS Days Live webinar series provides a platform for this collaboration. In the first session of the series, Jan Karlsson, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Service Ericsson, stressed the importance of cultivating a sense of “togetherness” in the ICT industry as we enter a new era. Here are some insights from the first two sessions.
Monetizing the realities of 5G
With a rising demand for mobile data and an increase in network complexity, the ability to offer cost-efficient solutions while protecting the end customer experience and simplifying customer interactions is vital for success. Now, service providers must also find ways to unlock new revenue streams, which must be done through either offering new services or gaining more market share. In this regard, BSS is part of the problem, but it’s also a part of the solution. It mustn’t constrain service providers’ role in the value chain, and it needs to be configurable for new types of business models where monetization is not limited to buckets of data.
Build for consumers, expand for enterprises
The growing demand for mobile data services can be met, as can the demand for new types of 5G services. The journey to 5G enables a more resource-efficient network with higher capacity, higher performance and lower latency, which is already unlocking exciting new use cases. As we’ve seen from recent 5G rollouts, early adopter service providers are focusing on the consumer market, for example, by offering AR and VR services and creating bundles with headsets. In the US, we’ve also seen a lot innovation in the form of enhanced sport experiences, with arena audiences sharing high quality videos via social media and even contributing to the live broadcast via their personal 5G smartphones.
However, Jan Karlsson explained that service providers with established enterprise business are in a much stronger position to truly realize the 5G opportunity, for example, service providers with an existing IoT business or dedicated networks. The demand for seamless mobility is very real, and service providers are the ones who can provide that end-to-end data and network security.
The opportunity that 5G unlocks goes way beyond the consumer market – and the window to engage is now open. By 2030, 5G-enabled enterprise business beyond mobile broadband is estimated to be worth USD 700 billion, and surveys indicate that 71 percent of enterprises believe 5G networks will have a big impact on their business. In addition to this, 70 percent of enterprises say they’re willing to engage with service providers beyond traditional telecom services.
However, at the moment, service providers are only engaged with enterprises in one fifth of 5G for business projects, and only 20 percent of enterprises trust service providers to help them deliver and unlock the value of 5G. Jan argues that the level of mistrust has to be addressed and that establishing a new level of openness is key to success. He also shared some important recommendations for addressing the enterprise market:
- Start with expanding the connectivity offering with managed SD-WAN, fixed wireless access, IoT and dedicated networks
- Be open to collaborate with new industry partners to protect your role as a service provider in the value chain
- Take a use case driven approach to explore how together, we can accelerate enterprises’ digital transformation and learn how to leverage each other’s strengths
Digital transformation for service providers and the competitive landscape
Digital transformation is a key prerequisite for service providers who truly wish to unlock the full potential of 5G. By migrating to a standalone 5G Core, service providers can radically improve network slicing capabilities and make the network more programmable for new use cases and innovation. But there can’t be a 5G innovation platform without BSS, and the radicalization of BSS is an important part of digital transformation. Legacy product catalogs and billing systems should not stand in the way and stop service providers from tapping into the opportunities that 5G presents.
Our partners at TM Forum explained how they’re creating the blueprint for this transformative effort and mapping out what’s required to become a service provider of the future. In order to succeed, service providers need to enter new application ecosystems that include a bigger network of vendors, service providers and hyperscale cloud providers to create an outstanding level of value for enterprises.
If we look at the digital transformations taking place today, they’re mainly siloed transformations, which is not enough to unlock the full potential of 5G. In order to go beyond connectivity, TM Forum urged webinar participants to get serious about embracing new business models, technologies and ways of working – such as continuous integration, continuous deployment – to allow service providers to move at the same pace as the market and continuously innovate.
To create this blueprint, it’s also important to take the competitive landscape into account. Nik Willetts, CEO TM Forum, explained that a common mistake among service providers is to assume they will continue to dominate the market in terms of mobile connectivity, and that these services don’t need protecting. Now, hyperscale cloud providers are taking a seat at the table – and service providers need to look beyond their traditional competitors. However, this presents a unique opportunity to partner with them. This is becoming a highly competitive landscape, and to conquer it, service providers must be well placed to add value. To go beyond providing basic connectivity needs and play a more meaningful role they have to make the transition from connectivity and evolve into a true digital service provider. This requires an operating model transformation – where connectivity is one set of many capabilities and technologies. As a result of this, we have to radically rethink IT and operations, and move towards cloud-native software production driven by intelligent operations and built on a flexible platform architecture.
How charging is evolving in the 5G-enabled world
In the second event in the series, our panel of experts came together to discuss early findings from 5G rollouts and the key success factors for 5G charging.
Annika Åhlberg, Strategic Product Manager, Ericsson BSS, explained how 5G Core is changing telecom charging systems: “The immediate impact of the introduction of 5G Core on BSS is due to the architectural change from 3G and 4G to 5G. In 3G, there were two separate flows – one for offline charging and one for online charging. While with 5G Core architecture we have a single flow for the converged charging system.”
Many of our customers are ready to become part of this service-based architecture, and there’s been a lot of good traction in terms of BSS involvement in 5G Core engagements. When it comes to monetizing 5G Charging, Annika identified network slicing as one of the most relevant technological capabilities, as it gives service providers the ability to deliver extremely high-speed slices to support use cases like encrypted video conferences, connected vehicles, VR gaming and healthcare monitoring.
Key success factors for 5G charging
Interest in 5G charging has increased among the service providers over the last year, and our market-leading product is ready to support them.
Jesper Andersson, Senior Solution Architect for Ericsson Digital Services, outlined some of the success factors for 5G Charging:
- Understand the use cases – this may sound basic, but its importance should not be overlooked. In 5G Core, the charging solution handles all of the charging in the network, both online and offline. 5G is often said to be use-case driven and as a result, we need to make sure the use cases and the traffic patterns are completely understood.
- Understand the architecture and the infrastructure – The 5G Charging function (CHF) is mandatory in 5G Core and required to monetize 5G. The deployment can vary from service provider to service provider which makes it important to understand and analyze the requirements from case to case.
- Statement of compliances – Jesper also stressed the importance of adherence to the latest 3GPP specification. Ericsson has chosen a very active role in this standardization and is one of the driving forces in the 3GPP standardization work – making early comparisons with the latest 3GPP specifications which will benefit our customers.
At the end of the session we also covered our roadmap for Ericsson Charging and discussed the strategic enablers of success for digital BSS. If you’d like more information about our Ericsson Charging solution, contact your Ericsson account manager today.
The BSS Days Live are open for all Ericsson BSS customers with sessions coming up in October and November. The next invitations will be sent out at the beginning of October and beginning of November.
If you missed the first sessions just contact your Ericsson partner and we will provide you the opportunity to listen in on-demand.
Want to know more?
Download the MIT Technology Review Insights report: The 5G operator
Download the Ericsson ebrief: What is the 5G charging function?
Read more about Telecom BSS.
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