Why standards are crucial for BSS transformation

Communication Service Providers (CSP´s) often struggled to choose between “quick fix” changes in their BSS to meet short-term business needs and investing in sustainable long-term transformation of the business and the software that runs it. But with a more demanding future than ever the CSP´s expectations to launch and monetize new services faster demands strong adoption of standards in BSS to achieve the required concept-to-cash cycles. Here at Ericsson the future is now.

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BSS is an area of the telecoms industry that used to rely heavily in software customizations and tightly coupled integrations. Market saturation, technical and business legacy created during years of rapid growth and fast-changing customer expectations have placed continuous pressure on operating costs and operational agility. Legacy processes and technologies are a systemic part of the problem – this is such a big problem that Gartner predicts that by 2025 the technical debt will consume more than 40% of operators´ IT budgets. A rapid and radical shift to an open, modern, loosely coupled BSS architecture is key to enable new operating and business models. It will not only keep supporting existing customers and business lines but also allow tapping revenue opportunities coming from the 5G ecosystem. These opportunities range from consumer market high-speed access and new services to enterprise businesses across many industries and B2B2X partnerships. 

 

What make standards so important? 

The BSS digital transformation history in several operators around the world left a common view around the market: a stepwise evolution with best-of-breed products makes more sense than a big, full stack update. This, along with the constantly increasing demands to launch new products faster, reduce operational costs, rely on a new partners ecosystem and leverage cloud infra-structure benefits greatly raised the importance of adopting standards. For example: 

  • When both 5G Core network nodes and charging in BSS side support 3GPP SBI (Service Based Interface) the introduction and monetization of new 5G services can be done a lot faster. Parameters introduced by the new technology are already accounted for in latest 3GPP specification and can be automatically recognized when traversing from core network to rating. Same is valid for “older” protocols such as Diameter Gy or Sy since 3GPP is well established in the network integration domain. 
  • A BSS that supports ETSI-MANO means that the applications run as network functions in a standard NFV (network function virtualization) environment and can be deployed, orchestrated and managed along with other network functions running in the same environment and sharing the same underlying cloud infra-structure. ETSI standards have also been adopted extensively for quite some time. 
  • Last but not least, BSS northbound integrations have always been a big pain for CSPs but TMF Open APIs are maturing and becoming the de-facto standard. Integration with different CRMsmultiple channels and other partners directly affects the user experience, so adopting TMF Open APIs decreases implementation and operational complexity. Simply said, they make it easier to create, build, share and operate complex innovative B2B2X services and open new markets in the management and monetization of APIs. 

A good comparison is the network supply chain, which is heavily and formally standardized, enabling the relatively straightforward swapping out of components. Another is standardization of the internet, which requires a centralized body to not only develop extensible standards, but also provide the test suite that confirms compliance, such as HTML5. The BSS ecosystem in telecoms approaching that style of standardization will be critical to delivering the required speeds and innovation while avoiding integration costs. 

 

The future is here 

Monolithic, rigid, highly customized systems that take too long to procure, are too expensive to implement and which cannot be reused will be replaced with agile, data and AI-driven solutions that are responsive to changes in market and product needs. These solutions are characterized by a modern standards-based architecture that is lightweight, decoupled and cloud-based. They will comprise software components that can be easily discovered and procured from multiple vendors, and easily integrated and deployed. That´s why here at Ericsson we built a modular BSS portfolio to offer best-of-breed products along with a pre-integrated end-to-end stack for CSPs that need a modernized BSS ecosystem.  

Driven by the need to reduce costs, quicken time-to-market and find new consumer and enterprise revenue streams, CSPs are urgently looking for a new approach to business processes and software to enable these goals. Central to this success will be the transformation of operators’ legacy operational and business support (OSS/BSS) systems, moving away from traditional, monolithic and customized software silos. That´s what BSS standards are changing in today´s world. 

 

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