Big Bang BSS migration success sees Airtel shift to unified architecture
With operations in 17 countries across Asia and Africa, Airtel is a leading communications service provider (CSP) that serves more than 500 million customers, of which 458 million are mobile subscribers. In India, Airtel is a consistent technology leader, serving over 350 million subscribers. It the first to launch 4G services in India in April 2012, and the first provider in India to trial 5G over a live commercial network in January 2021. Airtel recently launched 5G services in eight Indian cities and plans to cover most of the country in 2023. In addition to mobile services, Airtel offers fixed broadband and digital TV services and an integrated suite of communications services for over 3500 enterprises. With 2G, 3G and 4G running together, along with the recent launch of 5G, Airtel runs one of the most complex networks of its size and scale in the world.
Building a high-quality network and enhancing customer experience have always been a top priority for Airtel – the CSP has a relentless focus on increasing process efficiencies, elevating the customer experience and offering best-in-class services at minimal cost to its customers. With these goals in mind, Ericsson deployed our integrated real-time charging and policy solution Ericsson Charging, and consolidated all other online charging systems (OCS). Ericsson Charging is now Airtel India’s sole solution, serving more than 350 million customers across all network technologies in their 22 Indian markets. The solution provides Airtel with a scalable and converged policy and charging solution, that benefits from the pre-integration of the Ericsson Charging and Ericsson Policy Control portfolio, in addition to Ericsson Mediation.
The scale and complexity of the project was extraordinary
The project was the first of its kind: a large-scale BSS transformation project in the Airtel network, that was executed by migrating 70 million subscribers at once in a “big bang” approach. The BSS migration covered integration and connectivity across multiple geographical locations – involving a massive 70 million pre-paid, post-paid and M2M subscribers from three important Airtel markets. The reason Ericsson and Airtel adopted the “big bang” approach is because Airtel wanted to replace the existing system as early as possible to optimize total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits. The existing solution was costly to maintain, hampered process efficiency for new product launches and resulted in complex lifecycle management.
With such a large number of subscribers, multiple challenges and risks come into play. New systems often take a long time to deploy, and the risk of cost escalation is high. Moreover, if not handled correctly, migration impacts the delivery of services, degrades customer experience and, ultimately, has a negative impact on business. To mitigate risks, CSPs often plan subscriber migration in multiple phases, with no more than 100 to 150 thousand subscribers migrated in one go. However, in Airtel’s case, Ericsson migrated all 70 million subscribers distributed across multiple geographies. This migration was achieved without any customer experience degradation.
Overcoming challenges demanded extreme collaboration
This begs the question: “How did Ericsson and Airtel manage such flawless execution when 70 million customers were involved? “
The entire project faced an extra challenge – it was executed during the peak pandemic period. As government lockdowns restricted freedom of movement, the project team had to deliver 99 percent of the work remotely. To ensure flawless execution without any issues and delays, strong collaboration was paramount, with Ericsson and Airtel project teams working side-by-side throughout. The teams adopted a transparent communication approach to ensure there weren’t any gaps in the flow of project related information between the virtual teams, which empowered all team members to make decisions and resolve issues quickly.
The transformation project also benefited from meticulous planning and a rigorous pre-execution groundwork that included trials. By leveraging an industrialized approach and test automation, the project team accelerated execution speed. The team also developed a reusable migration tool that utilizes and enhances existing Ericsson assets and tools for managing automation and testing, which enabled a speedy and quality-focused delivery within six months. This approach not only helped achieve key project milestones in time, but it also ensured increased cost efficiency for Airtel.
Now Airtel is ready for what tomorrow brings!
With a reliable, resilient, scalable, stable, and flexible online charging solution in place, Airtel is better positioned for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges:
- The new solution ensures Airtel’s readiness for 5G and IoT by introducing 5G specific functions, Ro for VOLTE, ESy for policy and offer driven charging enabling the CSP to monetize 5G and target new market segments
- Ericsson Charging provides the ability to create new advanced product offerings - including support for new 5G use cases
This approach will further enhance customer experience by enabling Airtel customers to access new features, including real-time access to account information, charges, and advanced offers.
Rashim Kapoor, SVP Core Network Airtel India, describes the new operations as “more harmonized and simplified”. He further maintains that the single vendor approach taken helps improve time to market, saying “When you have a single vendor you obviously have advantage of better time to market because your number of configurations are less.”
Read more about Telecom BSS
Explore Ericsson Charging
Explore Ericsson Mediation
Explore Ericsson Policy Control
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