Operators Must Ensure Business IT Systems Fit the Bill, Says Mason

Operators that delay implementing new operational and billing support systems (OSS/BSS) do so at their peril, and risk being relegated to wholesale providers of minutes and megabytes, says Tech Consultants Mason Communications.

“OSS and BSS are critical to the commercial success of service providers, but the risks involved in implementing systems often result in operators delaying the decision for as long as possible,” says Steve Lewis, Senior Consultant at Mason. “While the core and access networks are undergoing radical change, OSS/BSS modernisation is being delayed. However, legacy systems that are designed for per-minute-based services and are simply not sufficient for the next generation, will cost operators more in the long run should they continue to ignore them.”

Lewis argues that some operators are struggling to take stock of the rapid transformation currently taking place in the market.

The shift to IP networks for both fixed and mobile service providers and the opportunities and threats that service convergence brings are rapidly changing the structure of the market.

Barriers to entry are rapidly being eroded by new technologies.

“You only have to look at the new business models emerging which already threaten existing operators. For example, Blyk, a highly targeted mobile service aimed at 16 to 24-year olds is largely funded by advertising revenues rather than the users themselves. Mobile operators are moving into broadband markets, fixed operators are launching TV services, and media companies are using the strength of their brand to offer complete media and communications packages.”

According to Lewis there is a very real threat to established service providers from these new entrants. For one thing new entrants, in their various forms, do not have to contend with legacy OSS/BSS.

“New entrants tend to build OSS/BSS systems to support the business within the competitive environment at launch. They do not have the risks to existing revenues from technology transformation. They also have much lower cost bases and are not limited by the lengthy product launch cycles that legacy OSS/BSS systems impose on traditional operators.”

Lewis warns operators that they must rise to this new competitive environment or be relegated to wholesale providers of minutes and megabytes.

“OSS/BSS transformation takes time, up to two years even with the right skills and strategic commitment, but it should not be delayed just because it is difficult,” he concludes.