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Traffic and Topology – The Telco Trends Changing OSS

In this sneak-peak preview  of Chapter 4 of The Guide to Modern OSS, we consider how CSPs are being forced to change their networks as users and OTT service providers change their expectations of data services.

CSPs being focused on customer experience is a good thing, but that experience has to be delivered by the network in an efficient way to ensure the service is profitable. More than ever, the customer’s expectations are changing, the network is changing, and services are changing.

From a network planning and operations perspective, there’s two major, related, trends driving change at a network-wide level: Customers are using the network in a fundamentally different way, and the network architecture is evolving to support those customers’ changing habits and needs.

These two trends, and how they converge, are resulting in a step-change in the flexibility of network operations and the economics of service delivery.

More Everything

You are probably familiar with the statistics and forecasts that show massive increases in demand for data and bandwidth, from both mobile and fixed-line customers.

For instance.

Cisco’s Global Mobile Data Forecast in 2015 suggested that the data carried globally in 2014, for mobile services alone, was 30 times greater than the traffic of the entire Internet in 2000.

That demand from customers in itself drives change: CSPs are having to deliver an increase in network capacity, and handle that traffic in more intelligent ways.

Growth in capacity is a familiar challenge: The introduction of DSL and cable broadband, the rollout of mobile 3G services, all resulted in massive investment in networks. But today the economics are different, CSPs do not have the almost unlimited funding they had 10-15 years ago, but there is still an expectation that the latest generations of fixed-line and mobile technology – particularly mobile technology –  will result in a major improvement in bandwidth and service quality.

Capacity and Coverage

Whether 3G, 4G or (coming soon!) 5G – rollout of mobile networks is one of the biggest areas of expense for CSPs today. Long after most countries issued or sold the rights to the radio spectrum used for 4G/LTE, delivering that service to the majority of customers continues to be a challenge.

The primary technical challenge in the network is achieving coverage and capacity.

The challenge is doing so in as efficient as way as possible, achieving the biggest return on investment, avoiding under/over build. The former leaving missing out on revenue generating services, the latter being a simple waste of money.

Networks are not just being expanded with more capacity.

Networks are being re-architected to accommodate the flow of data between customers, between OTT service providers or content providers and their customers, and between data centres.

OSS to the Rescue – Again

With this change comes a great opportunity for OSS!

The change in customer traffic and network architecture demands rigorous analysis, capacity planning, optimised network design and management of change.

Large CSPs will need to invest millions, probably billions, in the long-term, to change their network to meet traffic demands for the next decade. Establishing the right strategy to meet business objectives is the responsibility of network architects and planners supported by the right OSS applications.

Traditional planning tools like GIS and inventory will play an important role, but more crucially there is a need for network-specific analytics that can model and predict traffic as it flows around the more dynamic and flexible network topology (a requirements we’ll see much more of in this chapter).

Forecasting and Capacity Management will play a big part in the strategic network planning, with Service Optimisation being necessary to determine how best to use the network efficiently on a day to day basis.

Modern networks and modern services are as much built on servers, databases and applications as they are on routers, packets and paths. So, in addition to being more analytical, OSS must also branch out in to modelling data centres and IT resources with as much sophistication as they have modelled routers and switches in the past.

Evolving or Mutating OSS

That’s a significant change to the very DNA of many OSS applications.

In the short term there will be a temptation to use enterprise IT tools to manage the data-centres, while traditional OSS focuses on the connectivity between data-centres and customers. Inevitably such an approach will lead to disjoint decision making and processes.

OSS took a big leap forward when inventory and service fulfilment applications were able manage the complete stack of physical, logical and service resources enabling delivery of new optical services, DSL broadband, and mobile networks.

To meet today’s demands for carrier-class OSS systems able to monetize virtualization, content, data analytics and IT resources will most likely require mutation, not evolution – A hybrid of reliable OSS system architecture with the usability, agility and speed of modern IT tools.

UPDATE – January 2019 – The new, extended Guide to Modern OSS 2019 Edition is now available. Click here to download.

Coming Soon Badge 320wThe full Chapters Four, published soon, adds more detail about specific technology and service trends, including NFV, SDN and Small Cell. If you’d like to receive early PDF copies of the latest update to The Guide to Modern OSS, simply sign-up below.

A big thank-you to DonRiver and ARTIN for their support of this project. If you’d like your company to get involved with the next chapters of The Guide, send me an email to learn about the benefits of becoming a Supporting Sponsor.