Digital transformation is all around us, revamping the core practices of businesses. Communications service providers (CSPs) are also looking to transform what they do and how they do it. They face a demanding public, hungry for content consumption and creation capabilities and a business community that relies on robust telecoms for its own digitisation initiatives.
According to a recent report from Cisco and Business Insider Intelligence, mobile data traffic is growing at an alarming rate. Last year, worldwide throughput sat at 16 exabytes (EB) per month; this year, that will climb to 23 EB per month, and next year to 34 EB. By 2021, we'll be seeing monthly global data traffic of 49 EB. That's increases of 44 per cent, 48 per cent and 44 per cent respectively. This trend is bound to put pressure on CSPs struggling to deliver consistent quality of service. Consumers born into the digital era―who have grown up with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other—are even less likely to forgive transgressions in the form of service drops, slow downloads or grainy, stuttering content.
Sharing the load
That is the challenge CSPs must address, to compete in the Age of Content. Carefully considered strategies have the potential to boost subscriber loyalty. Think about the millennial―digitally savvy, informed, impatient and demanding. This is the new subscriber base. The one-stop shop is a must, if you are to keep them loyal. Fortunately, CSPs can find allies among application service providers (ASPs) and over-the-top (OTT) service providers. These companies are also concerned about the end-user experience (UX). According to OpenSignal’s September 2018 “State of Mobile Video” report, download speed is just one factor influencing UX . The consistency of connection speed and signal delay also have an impact on the overall video experience.
While congestion management solutions available in some telecom-specific business support system (BSS) suites can help mitigate some issues―such as ability to provide subscribers fast access to priority applications even in peak-use periods, dynamically manage temporary failures on radio and core networks, improve UX for high-value subscribers, and prioritise mission-critical communication traffic for dedicated groups of subscribers―CSPs and content providers will have a much better chance of overcoming the obstacles to outstanding UX if they partner up and integrate their solutions. The resulting benefits of such ventures accrue to all involved parties.
Benefits for all
The technical solution that enables such a partnership is the Service Capability Exposure Function (SCEF). With this functionality, CSPs have the opportunity to securely expose their network and infrastructure to a host of partners, such as application services provides, content providers and IoT platforms.
The benefits of these partnerships extend to both operator and partners and filter down to subscribers. Both business parties can now manage quality of service, instead of the operator alone. Content providers can create new package offers for users, at will, and have more control over how they are delivered, allowing them to enhance their content and make it more attractive to the operators’ subscribers.
In addition, partnership models can deliver free traffic for special marketing campaigns. Sponsored traffic in the initial days of the campaign can be used to attract users. The viewing of commercials leads to data revenue on the CSP network, and the more traffic created by a subscriber, the more benefits that accrue to the ASP from value-added services. Furthermore, accelerated revenue generation on the CSP side allows the operator to more quickly pay for any infrastructure investment.
The tight partnership between content providers and operators can also go further in improving the quality of ASP traffic detection. The ASP transmits its app signatures in automated mode, making it more efficient and cost effective for the operator’s Policy and Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF) to manage and prioritise this traffic.
When we talk digital transformation, one of the most talked about technologies is the Internet of Things (IoT), an architecture that has become increasingly popular as businesses seek ways of delivering more to customers, using less resources. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is facilitated by the ASP-CSP partnership model. IoT can be integrated more smoothly, with the joint architecture now responsible for the co-ordination of background data transfer, device-triggering functions, event monitoring, Non-IP Data Delivery (NIDD) and group message delivery.
Facing the future…together
This fresh model of collaboration with content providers, to improve UX together and stay competitive, will be vital for the CSP looking to reduce costs while transforming itself into a digital service provider. The ability to manage new content services and packages for each subscriber drastically reduces time to market and boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty in ways previously unthinkable.
As CSPs steamroll ahead with their digital transformation efforts in 2019—looking for ways to enhance operations without risky infrastructure investments―partnering with the very companies that rely most on backend QoS is a great way to share the burden of more demanding consumers. By standing together, CSPs and their ASP and OTT partners can insulate themselves from the rigours of an increasingly competitive market and boost UX to loyalty-generating heights.
Alexey Vedin, Director of Network Monetisation Products, Nexign