The 5GHz spectrum has recently become the hottest commodity in the digital world. Not because it has some magical powers but this happens to be the unlicensed spectrum and that makes it a competitive space, to the superlative degree. The 5GHz spectrum happens to be the unlicensed spectrum available for Wi-Fi to operate and deliver high speed internet on this. With the development of LTE, operators (especially TD-LTE operators) are trying to tap into this spectrum and deliver mobile internet through this spectrum. Predictably, this interferes with the Wi-Fi services that are delivered onto the same band of frequency. However, in the absence of any law that prohibits from using this spectrum, LTE operators were able to operate on this frequency. The fact that LTE operators are able to throttle the spectrum usage to deliver better speeds is increasingly making this band of frequency very attractive.
As one can imagine, this led to mild differences between LTE technology promotors and Wi-Fi technology promoters. While the LTE’s answer to these differences was the LAA (licensed access aggregation), the Wi-Fi Alliance retaliated with statement on how the industry can benefit from mutually understood fair and effective use of 5GHz spectrum.
It is safe to say that after decades of market evolution, no technology is here to stay forever. What is permanent is the need for connectivity and the market around it. Many market gurus predict that in today’s confusingly large market, users are least concerned about what technology they are using to access the internet. They just need the service at a reasonable cost with decent speeds. The same market gurus have also highlighted the fact that the market players are aware of this and are increasingly working towards achieving balance at an industry level. As a matter of fact, some say that this will be major development point in the upcoming 5G technology.
However, users cannot / will not wait the perfect digital revolution to happen and hence operators cannot. Hence the same operators have to find a way to provide their services irrespective of the dominant technology in the market. Network plays an important role in delivering the services and operators spend a lot of deserved time and resources on figuring out the perfect strategy for the network. But more often than not, the business and operational support system are chosen without much needed attention towards making them future proof. Some of the key challenges of not having future proof solutions are missing out on competition, lack of flexibility of product portfolio, not able to embrace new network techniques and offering effective charging mechanisms. Although the effect on business in terms of numbers differs from operator to operator, it will for sure have negative effect.
Most operators today are building their businesses around customer experience and it is increasingly making sense. In a competitive market, a user has lot of choice as it is easy to migrate to another network and hence customer retention is the primary challenge of broadband operators across the world. Customer experience includes a comprehensive set of activities where a user interacts with the operator at multiple touch points. This ranges from service quality delivered to the way in which issues are handled. Operators need the right system to plan, execute and automate the workflow of the customer service. Although various system play a role in the automation process, the entire information converges at the Billing and CRM solutions. Hence it is of high importance that the operator should appreciate the depth of the business and operational support systems.
Some of the key aspects of the support systems are
Future Proof Solution:
As stated above, market around communication technology including data has been continuously evolving and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This evolution can affect the way businesses operate going forward. In addition to inclusion of various access technologies, evolving integration technologies and developments in the software frameworks also impact the software.
Internal dynamics like substantial increase in subscriber base and quick expansion of software stack to support the growing business needs are some of strategic aspects that cripple the operators in a growing phase. A future proof billing system for an operator should be address these aspects effectively and help the operator leverage on the opportunities rather than crippling them at multiple levels.
Network Agnostic Solutions:
Most broadband operators are today evaluating or have already embraced multiple technologies to deliver their services. To re-visit the customer experience perspective, this is required to be done by the operator to stay relevant and reach out to a wider customer base with varied requirements. However, this infuses challenges into the business process and results in overall inefficiency. To address this challenge, support system should be flexible enough to handle multitude of platforms, understand them and seamlessly work with them.
As mentioned in the above section, a system should work with a range of network platforms. However, the need for this is mostly understated. A typical cloud based solution comes with the benefit of flexible integration. This is a critical aspect as in today’s world, every enterprise solution is part of a very large eco-system and its ability to integrate with various solutions is the key to adapt to the business requirements of operator.
Benefits of such a solution can give the operator the flexibility to replace any solution with minimum business impact and thus build flexibility and agility to address evolving business needs.
Flexibility in terms of business workflow:
Operators across the world work in varied markets and hence approach the business process individually while adhering to multitude of compliances. This calls for customization of the solutions according to their particular business needs. With the above mentioned business features, operators can customize business process accordingly.
Given the current market scenario, there is good chance that operators will be providing multiple technologies, multiple services and might also end up working with rival technologies and operators. In this ever emerging digital universe, understanding the need of a trusted business partner is critical in success and the role of support system providers in this scenario is more important than ever.