Comptel User Group Video: Q&A with Jeff Cotrupe, Stratecast

Posted: June 26th, 2012 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

At the 2012 Comptel User Group in Copenhagen, Stratecast analyst Jeff Cotrupe took a few minutes to explain what he considers most exciting about analytics and how communications service providers can leverage network and other data across their organizations. Watch the video below for more!

And in case you missed them, Comptel User Group videos with Comptel’s CEO, Juhani Hintikka, vice president of the fulfillment business, Simon Osborne, and director of product marketing, Steve Hateley, are also available.

Q&A: Stratecast’s Karl Whitelock on Policy Control

Posted: May 17th, 2010 | Author: Arnhild Schia | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Policy control has become one of the hottest OSS/BSS topics.  As a recent Telecom Asia story aptly summarized:

“The sophistication of smartphones and netbooks, and the explosion of P2P, video and gaming applications that ride on top of those devices—not to mention the comfort people now feel with social networks—have created a serious dilemma for [communications] service providers [(CSPs)] trying to accommodate the exponential increases in the traffic over fixed and mobile networks.  Without a means to generate sustainable revenues that offset pressure to lower costs and improve customer experience—all while reining in operations costs—the huge demands on networks could prove disastrous.”

Comptel recently caught up with Karl Whitelock, senior consulting analyst for Stratecast’s OSS/BSS Global Competitive Strategies practice, and got his thoughts on this tug-of-war between data usage and customer satisfaction, and how CSPs can take charge of their services—and realize an acceptable level of profitability.

Q: How can operators achieve a balance between the business realities they face and the aspirations and needs of their customers?

A: Customers always want the most they can get for the least cost.  This applies to all things retail and wholesale.  With mobile plans, especially mobile data plans that offer unlimited usage for fixed amounts, customers think they are getting a great deal.  For the most part, they are. However, too many customers taking advantage of such plans with devices, such as laptops, dongles or the most advanced smartphones, usually creates service quality issues in various parts of the network.  This in turn often means the establishment of additional network capacity, which carries a price tag.  Customers can consume a lot of bandwidth and generate a lot of data that must be carried to whatever destination it is intended.  Now, I’m not advocating a severe thrashing of the customers that heavily use what they pay for, because they are doing what they are supposed to be doing—using the network.  Hence, it is important for CSPs to find ways to align that usage with realistic revenue goals.  This means that the day of “all-you-can-eat” data plans must be replaced with a strategy that is more balanced for all parties concerned.

Q: What steps should CSPs take to ensure that they get things right when it comes to customer-focused policy management?

A: Achieving the right balance between customer usage and the realities of increasing traffic volumes all CSPs now face requires innovation and the right tools.  Policy management is one of those tools, and can be coupled with a real-time rating and charging engine to allow customers to take control.  They can define how and when their services will be used.  It can have volume cap limits, financial limits and really any other “hard trigger”.  In addition, the customer needs to know when they are 50% towards a limit; this could be in minutes of use or capacity download volume, so they can make informed decisions.  Instituting policy control without customer involvement is the surest way to make customers unhappy.  While a CSP may not care that much about one individual consumer, what makes the “policy without involvement” approach so dangerous is the power one consumer can have by word of mouth through the social networking process.  Sharing just how bad their personal experience was with an operator in this manner can have huge unwanted consequences if posted to such places as YouTube or Facebook.  Again, the key is to give customers control on some things and inform them of when a usage change must be made if it looks like they are going to go over the designated limit and risk the consequences of being out of plan compliance.

Q: What impact do you see policy control having on OSS as a whole?

A: I relate OSS into two categories—the business support side (BSS) and the operations support side (OSS).  Policy control impacts both.  For the BSS side, it means integration with rating and charging, so the financial aspects of policy can be worked in properly.  It also requires the customer management side to give customers the information they need to make informed decisions about their mobile data and voice plan usage.  On the OSS side, if a CSP makes an upsell offer, say something like “for a small incremental amount, you can have a faster upload/download speed or be granted more download volume”, then the OSS, especially the inventory and activation functions, need to be able to allocate that capacity correctly.  This has a big impact on the fixed-line side, but even with mobile data, it means network capacity planning and utilization processes must be aware of customer actions.  In all cases, policy can be set for making an upgrade offer to a customer when a policy-defined threshold may be approaching.

For more on effective, customer-focused policy management, a Comptel-commissioned Stratecast whitepaper is available for download, and an on-demand TM Forum Webcast is available to play.