Saudi Telecom's Service Delivery Platform creates new ways to provide value-added services and to partner with new players.
In Saudi Arabia, revenue per subscriber is among the highest anywhere in the world. However, traditional operators are seeing intense competition from new players and over-the-top services.
Market leader STC has found a smart solution to retain control over its users and its revenues. By implementing a Service Delivery Platform, it has created new ways to provide value-added services, both direct to consumers and by partnering with new players. This maximizes the potential for the operator to capitalize on its network assets and mobile broadband infrastructure.
Abdullah Al Kanhal, Service Development Director, STC explains the importance of getting ahead of the competition in this field: "It's an easy thing to compete on price in the telecom industry. The challenge for operators is how to differentiate in this very challenging, aggressive market. So value-added services play a major role to differentiate one operator from another."
On the consumer side, the solution enables STC to implement a virtual storefront – a common self-service portal, accessible by methods including web, WAP and phone – allowing users to optimize their services without having to visit the physical store. The portal receives around 6 million visitors every day.
The other side of the solution interfaces with third-party content and service providers. It enables STC to expose selected network assets to these parties on a case-by-case basis. This allows the operator to monetize this type of traffic, providing a smarter alternative to trying to directly compete with over-the-top services. The operator has already rolled out 6,000 new services using its Service Delivery Platform.
Mohammed S Aldhwaiyan, Director of Mobile Services, STC sets out the benefits of the solution as a whole: "The implementation of the Service Delivery Platform helps us with fast time-to-market, introducing new services and new models for subscribers. It is helping us to enhance the user experience, reducing customer complaints by more than 70 percent."
Mohammad Chabayta, KAM for STC, Ericsson details the offer that Ericsson provides: "The Service Delivery Platform is the nerve center of the service layer. Ericsson has the end-to-end responsibility, not just within the solution. We maintain, operate and manage through our managed services offering, and we cover the lifecycle management and the transformation."
Single service layer
The solution provides a horizontal architecture in the service layer, avoiding the vertical silos that are often created by legacy systems. Abdullah Al Kanhal details the benefits of this: "Having a single layer to interface with the different platforms in our network, where we offer all of our value-added services through that layer, gives us the privilege of showing this beauty to our customers. This also applies for our partners, the third parties who are providing the content, the applications and the VAS. It becomes even easier for them to just interface with the service layer."
The solution is being implemented in a stepwise approach over several years. This allows it to support STC's strategic business evolution, as well as retaining the flexibility required for reactive improvements derived from changing market conditions. STC forecasts that after full transformation the value of the solution will exceed SAR 500 million per year.
Mohammed S Aldhwaiyan believes that this solution is a vital enabler for STC to stay ahead of the competition and he values Ericsson's contribution: "We see Ericsson as a long-term partner, helping STC in transforming and implementing the ecosystems. If operators want to differentiate in cross-sales and up-sales of services, they should invest in Service Delivery Platforms."