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January 2007
Volume 10 / Number 1

Billing and OSS - the Last Barrier to VoIP and IMS

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis: ( Page 1 || Page 2 || Page 3 || Page 4 || Page 5 || Page 6 || Page 7)


Keeping Pace with Change

Over at Hewlett Packard, Michele Campriani, OSS Solutions Director Worldwide Communications, Media & Entertainment Business, says, “HP has a strong focus on the overall service provider market. A few months ago, we renamed our division ‘Communications, Media and Entertainment’, now including these in the overall ecosystem of what was the telco and/or service provider environment.”

“As part of that, we announced that we’re making around a $9 billion revenue on this specific market, which is the Number One industry for HP,” says Campriani. “Historically, HP had a strong focus on telcos, and as a part of that, OSS has been a prime consideration. If you look at it in terms of products and solutions, HP has had a history of more than 20 years in this market and producing different kinds of product and solution assets. On top of our products and solutions, there has also been a strong focus on our consulting and system integration business in terms of OSS specifically. That happens a lot at HP in the sense that when you have a strong intellectual property capability, then our system integration arm tends to focus on services and delivery on top of it. Because of our strong presence in this market, we have strong capability on both the product/solutions and system integration sides. That’s a pretty strong background in terms of leadership.”

“In terms of products, we’re all familiar with HP’s OpenView brand name, which actually includes more than 50 products,” says Campriani. “So there’s a lot of different functionality and capability there, but there are specific products that are targeted at the telco and carrier grade environment that historically have been very strong leaders in OSS specifically. We have products such as OpenView TeMIP, which delivers a comprehensive, flexible and robust OSS service assurance offering, unifying and integrating multiple management domains across a full range of infrastructures. TeMIP actually originated with the Digital Equipment Corporation 15 or 20 years ago, and then out of acquisitions by Compaq and HP, it became an important asset in the OSS area. It’s pretty much the leader in terms of network and circuits management in a traditional OSS environment.”

Campriani adds, “The good thing about HP is that, out of OpenView, and out of the trend in the market toward IP and even IT, meaning that there are a lot of IP components that are part of the revenue-generating infrastructure of the service providers nowadays — HP is very well positioned. Our OpenView product set comes from an IT and IP background, along with the management of those types of infrastructures. So, we’ve been focusing on making sure that it’s actually applicable in a carrier-grade and service provider environment. But in terms of, again, off-the-shelf functionality, there’s a lot that we can leverage there.”

“In a nutshell, we have very strong capabilities in our product set, says Campriani. “In what I would term the overall service assurance segment is really where we lead with our products and our integration capability. I could mention 20 products that do things ranging from managing the network to managing the infrastructure and even up into service management and customer-centric management.”

“One of the trends that we notice occurring in favor of our capabilities is the shift from a traditional telco switched-circuit voice infrastructure to an IP infrastructure,” says Campriani. “I must say that this is not really a new thing — the move into IP, at least in terms of infrastructure, and having services running on top, still has a lot of room for improvement and evolution. But in terms of IP infrastructure , and to be more specific, in terms of service providers having an IP backbone, most of the time based on things such as MPLS technology, things are really pretty much a standard today. I think most of the service providers are already there. They have this new infrastructure and they have in place some kind of what I would call ‘network management capability’ to manage that infrastructure. So, in terms of OSS and challenges of managing the IP infrastructure, I think that there is already a level of maturity. But two new important things are occurring. One is that it’s not enough to manage just the network anymore, or specifically, the infrastructure anymore. Service providers wanting to be competitive must be much more customer-centric in terms of services rather than just be able to determine if something goes wrong in the infrastructure. They must actually map out very quickly the problems and disruptions of services or quality of service, and even the disruption of specific customers’ service, particularly enterprise customers.”

“That’s one thing, the move from network to customer-centric management,” says Campriani. “The other thing is, again, the new big thing, substantially driven by IMS, is the introduction of the IT infrastructure, not in terms of fulfilling the internal IT needs of a service provider, but really in terms of being a part of the revenue-generating infrastructure. Examples would include our service providers when preparing to launch IPTV services, or more generally, broadband services. If you look at the infrastructure itself, okay, yes, you have to put down an IP backbone, and some service providers think they may have to run fiber to the home, so there is an infrastructure play which is more of a network play. But actually a lot of it involves adding IT systems in terms of software, hardware and storage, particularly in terms of creating an IPTV environment, and specifically services such as Video on Demand [VoD]. They have to add — and we know they do this because we sell them — a lot of hardware infrastructure such as video servers that runs software such as IPTV middleware applications. So there are software applications out there running on a typical standard IT infrastructure.

Campriani observes, “When you look at OSS, if you ask me, ‘What’s the shift? What’s IMS driving?’ I can say that there’s a need for the service providers to start to look at IT as an integral component of their supporting infrastructure and as part of that, they should start to adopt IT management and IT standards and IT processes. For example, take a standard for best practices for IT Service Management, such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is a mature standard to manage an IT environment and run the processes to do that. Well, I see nowadays that OSS organizations and overall service provider organizations are trying to understand how to adopt ITIL for their OSS environments. It’s a start.”



Tekelec ( is a network applications company that helps service providers worldwide transition to the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) infrastructure with targeted customer solutions that combine signaling, next-gen switching, business intelligence and revenue-generating applications.

Travis Russell, Senior Manager of the Product Marketing Group for the Software Solutions Group at Tekelec, says: “Tekelec works in a number of different areas. Our Integrated Applications Solution, IAS, performs several tasks. First, it collects data out of the network, typically signaling data, such as SS7, SIP, IP interfaces and protocols for GSM, CDMA, GPRS and UMTS. So it’s pulling data out of various access points within the network. Once we have all of that signaling data, we then correlate it, create XDRs [External Data Representations] from it, and we also create some Key Performance and Key Quality Indicators — KPIs and KQIs — and store those in a data repository. We then have a set of applications that allow you to go in and access that data and determine what kind of a view you want for that data.”

“It’s a different approach than a traditional OSS system that always focuses on, for example, the performance of the network facility,’ says Russell. “If I go look at monitoring systems, for example, their focus is on what the state is in terms of the health of the network links themselves, as well as what the health is of the various network entities, the nodes. Our view asks, ‘What is the traffic in the network? Where’s it going to? Where’s it coming from? What is the quality of the experience that the subscribers are having?’ Are they seeing delays and trying to get connected to email servers, for example?”

“On the wireless side,” says Russell, “we also look at the data access protocol for FTP, HTTP and SMTP for email. So we have a lot of visibility into those transactions as wireless subscribers do ringtone downloads and check their email. We can see all of that activity as well.”

“We provide the customer with a tool so they can go in and get all of the data and view it any way that they prefer, and then share that across the entire enterprise,” says Russell, “It becomes useful for the billing department, the fraud department, and particularly the finance department that has to do audits on service delivery and usage and so on. That, in a nutshell, is where we fit.”

“We also have some applications that provide billing audits for interconnect traffic,” says Russell. “We even have a product suite for revenue management. We also have an application that does a comparison between SS7 and AMA billing records that come out of the switch. We can do a comparison of the two so that if the switch did not log a telephone call and create a billing record, we’ll capture it out of the signaling network and create that record for them and then send that downstream to their business systems.”

“We are adding into our portfolio for 2007 charging capabilities for IMS, both online and offline charging,” says Russell. “We don’t do billing presentment, as does Amdocs and all those other guys. Instead, we provide the analytical tools and uses measurements and all of the statistics that come before that.”

“There are a lot of issues out there that people are trying to solve regarding billing,” says Russell. “If we look at the network today, and the way we do business today, operators are trying to deliver a lot of new types of services and a lot of new types of content. But they really don’t have the mechanisms, the processes and the tools in place to be able to monitor that activity, the service delivery. More importantly, they don’t have a way to provide an audit stream back to their executive management on each one of the transactions. So you end up with things like — and I’ve heard this from a number of wireless providers as well as content providers — subscribers downloading a ringtone and the wireless operator goes ahead and pays the content provider for the ringtone. And then at the end of the month when the subscriber gets their bill, they say, ‘I never got this’. or ‘It never worked’, or ‘I never ordered it’. And of course the providers haven’t given it any visibility because they didn’t put the proper tools into place, so they end up having to give the customer a refund on something they’ve already paid for. There are many more examples of that, where the operators are getting hit with these revenue losses for which they can’t account. That’s why there’s such concern.”

“Moreover, when you look at an all-IP based network, again, the biggest issue is that traditional telecom carriers don’t have the software in place to go monitor all of this activity and to create billing records for it,” says Russell. “It’s a different model than what they’re accustomed to. It’s a business model issue. Traditional telecom carriers today base their billing on minutes of use. Even when you look at your pricing plans on your telephone bills, it’s all based on minutes of use. We have ‘metered service’. The IP community is driving the ‘all you can eat’ formula, which really drives the traditional companies crazy, because they don’t have the business processes in place to support that, since it’s not their kind of business model. We’re talking about a paradigm shift to support this new business model and to understand where these revenues are going to come from if not from minutes of use. The business model of Skype, for example, is very much different than what a traditional telco relies on for revenue sources.”

Because of the size and depth of Zippy’s article, readers can peruse this feature in its entirety below.

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.


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