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New Research Uncovers Convergence Disconnect

Subscriber management, controlling identity across multiple access networks, and delivering sophisticated data services, number among the biggest convergence challenges facing service providers - according to a wide-ranging global report launched today. The independent research, sponsored by Apertio, questioned over 70 global communication service providers on convergence issues.

The Data Consolidation report highlights a glaring disconnect between the demands of the market and CSPs ability to effectively address these issues and remain competitive. Indeed, the entrance of a new breed of MVNO, ISP, VoIP and Internet Provider competition was highlighted as the biggest challenge to delivering against corporate objectives over the next 12-24 months.

According to the research, this new competitive environment is providing the catalyst for CSPs to attach more importance to the effective management of their subscribers' data. This is highlighted as an important differentiator in the battle against customer churn and rapid new generation service delivery. Seventy-six percent of respondents agree subscriber data management is the greatest convergence issue for their organisation over the coming 12-24 months.

Confirming the launch of more sophisticated services as one of today's major challenges, (second only to the increasing competition from Internet players), the survey confirmed effective subscriber management and data centralisation as vital tools to addressing this issue:

- 80 percent of operators aim to launch new services within six months, less than a quarter currently do so, and none claim the ability to launch a new service within three months
- 76 percent believed subscriber data is the most important convergence issue for their organisation
- 60 percent of CSPs have plans to consolidate subscriber information from across the business into a single repository over the next 12-24 monthsBut, according to André Girard, Analyst in VDC's Telecom and Datacom Practice, operators cannot be complacent. CSPs must begin to build out consolidation strategies today: "Missing this goal creates a very real threat and provides a significant window of opportunity for these new brands to wrest market share away from incumbent leaders. Twenty-four months is a long-time in today's dynamic market so traditional Telco's must respond more rapidly and prioritise consolidation strategies to remain competitive."

When asked to focus on convergence issues around service provision across multiple access networks, the respondents highlighted issues of identity, access and authentication as the overriding challenge. Issues of assurance and security were considered important, but the key to converged service delivery is managing the experience across IP sessions. Data consolidation is imperative in achieving this, as data silos are simply 'log jams' that serve to block the flow of customer access and operator response to customer needs. Evidently, challenges surrounding the quality of service or the device have been superseded by the demand for managing users' experience throughout their journey.

Commenting on the results, Andrew Wyatt, chief product operations officer at Apertio, said: "The survey shows that telecoms providers are acutely aware of the need to improve the management of customer data. However, the inflexible nature of legacy systems is totally at odds with the realties of delivering an increasingly complex matrix of sophisticated data services. Only with effective consolidation ensuring real-time visibility of all subscriber data, can CSPs hope to deliver the technology and service innovation so desperately needed in today's ultra-competitive convergence environment."

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.