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Multi-Play service excellence

Written by  Michael Anderson
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Michael AndersonIssue:Asia-Pacific III 2007
Article no.:4
Topic:Multi-Play service excellence
Author:Michael Anderson
Organisation:Global Solutions Group, Telcordia
PDF size:220KB

About author

Michael Anderson is the President of Telcordia’s Global Solutions Group. He is responsible for Next Generation OSS products, services, and partners. Mr Anderson has more than 15 years’ experience with media and high-technology software and service providers. Prior to Telcordia, Mr Anderson was Vice President of Business Development and Global Marketing for ADC’s Software Systems Group. He has also held senior roles in sales, marketing and product management at AT&T, MCI and Time Warner Telecom. Mr Anderson helped start one of the world’s first competitive voice and data service providers that grew to become a market leader before being sold to Time Warner. He also founded a global leader in IP services that became a leading Internet economy brand. Mr Anderson is a founder and past member of the Board of Directors of the Internet Service Provider Business Forum and is actively involved in several industry organizations and advisory boards. Michael Anderson holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences and completed a fellowship at the Georgetown University Law Center.


Article abstract

Operators need broadband multi-play services to remain competitive, but providing them is not simple; seamlessly delivering multi-play services is inherently complex. Multi-play involves a series of operational, technical and marketing challenges that few operators are prepared to handle. The services must work together flawlessly on a common IP-based platform for fixed and mobile video, voice and data. The need to manage network traffic complexities, guarantee quality of service and meet the demands of the market all add to the challenge.


Full Article

The Asian broadband services market is widely viewed as the benchmark for network build-outs, new services rollouts and subscriber personalization. Providers around the world ultimately aim to create multi-play offerings that compare to what can be found in Asia, but delivering on that vision is not without challenges. Most of these challenges are operational in nature - there is an inherent, underlying complexity in seamlessly delivering multi-play services. Detailed insight into the customer experience, and operational environment consolidation and automation, are critical requirements for service excellence. This reflects in the need for operators to fulfil service orders quickly and efficiently and to provide the best customer experience by monitoring service quality from the customer’s perspective and remedying any potential issues before customers are impacted. Many operators around the world are assessing what it takes to offer multi-play services profitably. Multi-play services, composed of video, voice and data service elements, require all network elements to work together more closely under a single operational environment. Resources that were once found in separate networks must now become part of a single common platform. Operators not only need to marshal network resources in a collective drive to satisfy customers on their own terms, but also to ensure that the supply chain powering this more complex, converged network is always positioned to deliver at the lowest possible cost at all times. This service supply chain needs to be comprehensive and able to adapt to changes in service demands, because an additional level of complexity exists given the market dynamics of emerging multi-play services. In short, customer’s demands are changing and they expect to be able to experience new services simply and instantly. How will operators address this need? Dealing with market dynamics Successful multi-play services will be those that efficiently respond to highly dynamic market needs since crossover usage of any network via any user devices is a key element. Flawless operational execution at all times is another key element. Dealing with dynamism, with all the resulting operational fluidity and demand unpredictability, calls for higher levels of planning and coordination. Network operations planning needs to be evolutionary in its orientation - the goal is to provide the best customer experience over legacy, emerging and future, not yet conceived, infrastructures. Customer demand and the customer experience now dictate the direction of this industry, and operators must focus on delivering while paying particular attention to the bottom line. Leading in delivering customer experiences and relevant services may become an expensive proposition that cannot be sustained if the proper attention is not given to the operational aspects. To fully understand how to achieve these objectives, it is important to understand the current environment, and how it is changing. Over the past ten to 15 years, the concept of multi-play services in Asia has evolved more rapidly than in any other region. A closer look at this evolution process reveals many valuable lessons. More than a decade ago, residential customers began embracing multi-play services. However, they simply accepted the fact that their voice, video, data and mobile services had to come from multiple providers. In recent years, increasing competitive pressures, and the ever-expanding versatility of IP-based networks, have compelled operators to expand their service portfolios to include different types of services with emphasis on mobility. Competitive pressures and customers’ increasing expectations are compelling operators to become more creative in their service offerings. The need for a more convenient mobile experience that brings certain features of the home PC to other settings, using any device, and combining it with other meaningful service elements is creating formidable and taxing operational challenges. Current methods of operation are constrained as most services have to be provisioned, fulfilled and managed separately - a rather costly, duplicative and disconnected approach. In addition, the growing volumes and changing characteristics of today’s multi-play services are exhausting in-house and other core systems and processes. It’s time for a change. Transforming networks for better broadband Now is the time to address network transformation pressures. The increasingly competitive nature of multi-play services, and associated capital investments, are having a significant impact on profits, making the traditional operations models unsustainable. At the core, operators are quickly consolidating their operations onto common IP backbones. Although this IP core is designed to be self-managing, it cannot simply be configured once and expected to run automatically, indefinitely and reliably because multi-play services are far too dynamic, and customers’ needs are ever-changing. Can the network keep up with voracious and shifting consumer demand? At the moment, it cannot. For example, once mobility service features are added to the mix, networks are affected in unpredictable ways - literally creating new, spontaneous network traffic patterns and busy times; customers feel the need to experiment to make the most of the additional bandwidth, the new features and the new settings upon which these services are becoming available. To handle this unpredictability, an operational environment that is aware of how the core network is behaving at all times and that provides the flexibility to accommodate changing conditions is necessary. So where should an operator’s focus be when planning to manage operational complexity? And with so many dynamics at play, where should they start? One area of focus should be network resource lifecycle management, including: • IP address management; • IP route modelling; • Multi-layer network views and data provisioning; • Multimedia IT equipment inventory, management, and activation; • Quality of Service, QoS, management; • Customer, network and service inventory discovery and reconciliation; and, • Competitor and partner management. Another area of focus should be overall operational orchestration, which is the synchronization of all resources from a broad number of once-separate networks and operational environments to act as one. Orchestrating the supply chain As all of the pieces begin to come together, service orchestration comes to the forefront - properly coupling the underlying supply chain to the rest of the operational environment to maximize network resource utilization at all times. This becomes even more critical once more complex, Web-based, self-service orders and changes become more prevalent. Similarly, in the new mode of operation, service assurance requires a coordinated, multi-layered approach to stop any service degradation from spreading to the other services in a multi-play offering. In addition, the operational environment must be properly coordinated to keep track of relevant, real-time information on service order status and performance. Moreover, operational orchestration should include the following: • Facilitate the operation of new services with reusable components; • Orchestrate the provision of content and services through third-parties; • Meticulously prevent, pinpoint, diagnose, and manage service order fall-out; and, • Monitor internal and partner Service Level Agreements, SLAs. Achieve broadband service excellence To address the various challenges in ‘operationalising’ multi-play services, the concept of ‘solution’ needs to be revisited. Every telecom supplier refers to its systems as ‘solutions’, and, of course, they are. It is important to note, however, that a real solution starts with a partnership between an operator and their supplier that draws on the full breadth of their experience and usually includes both technical but, more importantly, strategic guidance. Network and service planning in today’s world must seek a holistic approach that goes beyond individual systems. A true solution must represent a blend of capabilities and systems that can integrate with an operator’s environment and business processes, and provide not only customer experience excellence to stay relevant, but must also conform to the operator’s business case for sustained profitability. The idea is to provide the best customer experience with the minimum amount of network, service and operational resources. The clear business objective is to maximize profit per unit while increasing market share and brand equity - a critical objective that operators around the world can meet if they have the right plan in place.

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