Warid Telecom is one of the first few networks in the world leapfrogging directly from 2G to 4G LTE technology, opening new partnering opportunities with third-party providers to offer customers enhanced data-based content over their mobile devices. But with new opportunities come new challenges. The company realized that their existing legacy systems were not helping them achieve the agility – the speed, efficiency and accuracy – that they needed. This was decidedly true of their existing mediation system.
Simpler is better
Warid’s legacy mediation system was highly customized, with little flexibility. This required a number of complex change requests for every service introduction, making service launches cumbersome, timeconsuming and expensive.
Reporting was delayed, inconsistent and inaccurate, causing problems throughout the organization. Marketing could not realistically evaluate the profitability and success of new campaigns. Finance risked revenue losses due to inaccurate data reconciliation regarding third-party content providers. C-level executives did not like making decisions based on late, inaccurate business reports. Plus,with the increasing rate of change in today’s telecommunications climate, the situation was escalating.
Warid turned to Ericsson for a solution. The company was already using Ericsson as the sole supplier for Pakistan’s first large-scale commercial deployment and launch of 4G LTE, the latest development in a long-term relationship between the two firms. As is often the case, the primary business driver was simplification. The mediation of data clearly had to be consolidated, streamlined and improved for the company’s revenue flows. The decision was made to implement Ericsson Multi Mediation, with the initial deployment focused on prepaid mobile accounts.
The project centered around two types of billing flows: one for charging and the other for network switching. For the charging flow, involving Ericsson Charging System, a total IT mediation system was envisioned to support the multi-organizational need for business intelligence above and beyond the typical mediation function that collects, collates and prepares data for consumption by downstream systems. For the more traditional flow from the switching network, the solution was implemented as a straightforward collector/router mediation function.
The solution was planned and jointly designed by Warid IT and the Ericsson Global Services organization to be fully flexible and adaptable, supporting existing and new services. The time from contract to live deployment was only three months.
The design team took an interesting implementation approach that allows Ericsson Multi Mediation to mediate all Ericsson Charging System data records (DRs) in near real-time using innovative "parent-child" relationships. "In traditional networks, the mediation system just ‘translates’ DRs," explained Bilal Nazir, Senior Manager, Warid BSS Development, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. "That means for each input DR, there is one output DR in a different format. But with Ericsson Multi Mediation, there are many output DR types that are stored in different tables in our ‘big data’ distributed database." Using this hierarchical multi-formatted approach, Warid is positioned to get maximum value out of the stored information through all relevant systems. "Our solution is a clear case of IT mediation," Nazir concluded. The set-up provides Warid IT and other downstream systems and organizations with a flexible data set that provides a vast amount of useful information.
Even with these demanding requirements, the solution allows service introduction to be seamless with little to no development, directly and significantly improving time to market. "Just recently, we needed to add new shared accounts information coming from the charging system, due to a change request from a customer," explained Nazir. "With a traditional system, that would have taken at least two or three weeks of development time. With Ericsson Multi Mediation, it took only three days."
Better, faster information
The solution has also proved to be highly flexible and scalable. Its powerful mediation business logic layer easily handles the complexity of charging system DRs, and is capable of processing the operator’s large traffic volume, which can generate up to 150 million DRs every day.
Being a fully convergent solution,Multi Mediation goes far beyond sending these DRs to the billing system. It also makes the information available in near-real time to a number of other systems such as customer care, marketing, revenue assurance, fraud and others. Both the quality and quantity of information has drastically improved, with a number of related benefits.
"Before, it was not possible to determine how profitable and successful an offer was," said Nazir. "Now, it’s both easy and commonplace." Warid IT and Revenue Assurance are the main systems that receive mediated information, which is then sent to or requested by other systems. For example, IT sends aggregated information to the Business Intelligence (BI) system to generate reports on a business level. Previously BI reports were possible only at a technical level, and that took two days to accomplish. With the Ericsson solution, both technical and business reports are generated within four hours.
Customer Care uses the data to verify customer usage of prepaid services. Using several key Revenue Assurance KPIs, Ericsson Multi Mediation helps determine that all revenue generated is properly accounted for, giving the company complete visibility into any rating, charging or reconciliation inconsistencies.
"For each DR, we can see which value-added service is being used, such as Location Based Service (LBS), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Internet Service and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), and generate immediate reports," Nazir explained. Thanks to Ericsson Multi Mediation, the company has now identified 19 specific value-added services, many more than previously, allowing them to more accurately determine the profitability and success of an offer against actual services used.
Migrating to the future
The Ericsson Multi Mediation implementation has a significantly smaller system hardware footprint than the previous mediation solution, which has helped lower capital requirements (CAPEX). Simplified operation and maintenance has also reduced ongoing operational costs (OPEX). Warid Telecom unequivocally states that all of its business goals have been met.
Ericsson Multi Mediation handles the company’s LTE packet core switch flow, and the migration of other flows is underway. Said Nazir, "Moving forward, Ericsson Multi Mediation will provide information that the billing system can use to rate and bill postpaid subscribers, and that will also be sent to IT for reporting. We will also obtain information about customer behavior, such as which data services they are using, and when, which will be great for customer care, reporting and, especially, for reconciliation. Ericsson Multi Mediation has definitely added value to our business. It has made many things simpler, and has made us more flexible and adaptable. We’re much more ready for the future now, more agile for sure!"