22 Oct 2012

"Convergence: features and benefits for African telecoms” is discussed with Mikhail Khomarov, VP of R&D of CBOSS

Today’s guest blog post is written by Mikhail Khomarov, the Vice President of CBOSS. They are proud sponsors of AfricaCom. 

CBOSS is one of the world leaders in the development of innovative convergent IT solutions for end-to-end automation of telecommunications companies, delivering a competitive edge to telecoms across the globe. The CBOSS products range is based on innovative standardized convergent IT solutions acknowledged by many operators and service providers in 24 countries of the world, including African telecom companies.  

What is convergence? What benefits will a telecom operator acquire by using convergent solution? Mikhail Khomarov, VP of R&D CBOSS answers these and other questions.

What exactly do you mean under the convergence of BSS solutions? 
Convergence as we define it - is a principle of unification and standardization of solutions to complex problems. Complex BSS systems could be assembled from many components from different vendors, or they can be complex and with that manufactured by single vendor on the basis of a unified concept.

Convergence is a base concept of the CBOSS BSS solution and it consists of several elements, which we call multi-dimensional convergence:

- Account types: prepaid, postpaid and mixed (hybrid)
- Services: solution ensures that provisioning/removal of all types of services is done based on unified rules and not depending of the type of service networks/infrastructure
- Payments: any supported payment type could be used to cover any services regardless of networks/infrastructure
- Platform: all convergent solution components run on a unified hardware platform from one vendor
- Support: our customers enjoy one point responsibility, namely technical support for the entire solution, all its components and integrations between them, including hardware, system and application software – is provided by our company, so that our customers don’t have to guess whom to talk to about any particular issue.

CBOSS convergent solution is an integrated and unified set of software and hardware components, used for automation of the telecom operator business processes, and provides real time billing, customer care, data charging (including PCRF), mediation, interconnect with dealers and partners, network control, analytical reporting, CRM, and some other components.

Why do you think convergent solutions will be demanded by African telecom operators? 
In a few words – convergence reduces IT costs while boosting usability and quality of the solution, and through that – subscriber satisfaction and operator ability to reduce time-to-market for new products and marketing initiatives. Market research shows that unified convergent solution can increase operator EBITDA by up to 4–5% a year.

African telecom market is very dynamic, shows rapid growth of subscribers, the necessity to cover new territories and tremendous demand for communication services, which makes the region attractive for many telecom operators.  At the same time, the market is already highly competitive and operators entering it have to make better offers to subscribers and, on top of that, must have lower costs. All these demands could be addressed by convergent BSS solutions.

The standard benefits of convergence – account type, payments, fix-mobile convergence, are well known and covered in the media. Let me briefly touch upon a less mentioned, but yet important aspect of a convergent solution from a single vendor – cost savings in the integration layer(s).

Convergence dictates that all components of a solution are integrated with each other. If the solution is assembled from several components from multiple vendors, it always runs the risk that some components will not work because of integration problems. In this case the operator has to, thoroughly test implementation of each component, code and/or configure the integration layer, thus spending money and resources.

In CBOSS convergent solution components are factory pre-integrated, the manufacturer is responsible for smooth inter-operation of components, testing, configuration, and implementation of the entire solution. This way the manufacturer distributes the cost of integrating components between many clients reducing the price per customer. And I did not even scratch the surface here, because we can talk about uniformity of BSS UIs, how it affects operator employee productivity, and if what is the cost of achieving such uniformity.

What operators will mostly benefit from use of convergent solutions?
Convergence is very efficient for start-ups and emerging operators. Moreover, a convergent solution has a shorter launching period due to pre-integration of its components and due to the fact that it’s rolled out by a single vendor.

Mature operators would appreciate CBOSS High End solution scalability, where solution scales to tens of millions of subscribers simply by hardware upgrades, and high availability, which allows component upgrades and even hardware replacement without any interruption to the subscriber service.

Replication of the same standard convergent solution is also very beneficial for operators of a telecommunication group, as it will allow reduction of the total cost of implementation, ownership and promotes sharing of operational experience and best business practices among the telecom operators of the group.

What methods, do you think, should be applied by African operators for making their businesses more efficient?In the process of selecting BSS solutions, telecom operators should consider subscriber facing surfaces of the solution, as well as conformity to the operator and industry requirements. Operators should strive to use more customer-oriented and standardized solutions and products, and we are ready to help them make the most effective selections.

I can illustrate it by a case of our customer in the Central Africa. They required a new method of collecting payments from subscribers, as the number of payment methods was limited in the country. We suggested a solution enabling organization of network of subscribers, and dealers, who collected the money on their accounts. Then dealers inform their subscribers of the balance top up by USSD or SMS notifications.

Application of this method has given convenient payment method to subscribers and higher consumption of services to the operator, as subscribers can promptly top up balances for the ongoing use of mobile services.

Another way of raising business efficiency ih marketing campaigns and provide mobile service discounts, depending on bases to use solutions enabling reduction of costs by optimizing usage of the existing infrastructure – as an example I can mention a successful project implemented by CBOSS for a subsidiary of a global telecommunications group. In this project we helped the operator to launch station load, location of subscriber and time of the day, thus helping them to optimize network utilization without additional investments into infrastructure.

The key feature of this product is the discount calculation and call rating practically in real time with change of actual load on base station used for the subscriber’s connection. The solution automatically regulates the demand-to-discount ratio; the higher demand is, the less the discount, thus reducing the traffic through the station, and vice versa. This principle can be used when the operator wants to reduce load on stations in the downtown and increase it on stations in sleeping suburbs.

What does CBOSS expect from participation in AfricaCom 2012?
We expect to meet interesting people, who are looking for robust yet economical BSS systems. We would like to inform them about CBOSS convergent, integrated, end-to-end solutions and show our experience and knowledge in implementing such solutions for our customers.

We would also like to welcome visitors to our stand B11 and of course, to the keynote speech “Convergence: buzzword or moneymaker?” by CBOSS. Don’t forget our famous dance show performing at our stand B11!

Visit the AfricaCom website for more information: www.comworldseries.com/africa