Balance the data boom with revenue inflows

Steve Hateley
Comptel
The immense popularity of tablets and smartphones has resulted in a surge in the exchange of data and growth in bandwidth consumption. However, this increased data usage and subsequent network strain is just the tip of the iceberg for operators.
 
There are several other key factors that will drive data service growth in the coming years, such as the increase in the use of video services, the proliferation of M2M communications and the move toward service convergence. Furthermore, as more operators invest in 4G/LTE technologies, consumers will only continue to use more data but at faster rates, and will expect high-quality, low-latency services. This means that data traffic is likely to continue to grow at a much faster rate than operators’ revenue.
 
Operators will need to find a cost-effective way to deal with the exponential increase in data usage and network transactions, and maintain control over limited resources like bandwidth, while trying to maximize customer satisfaction and their profitability. On a positive note, they have a wealth of data about subscribers in the form of usage transactions, network performance, cell-site information, device-level data, as well as information spread across their networks and back office systems. But will operators have the innovation, know-how and drive to stitch the two together (data growth plus subscriber and service awareness) to bridge the chasm being formed by slow revenue growth?
 
Next-generation data mediation platforms are helping to enable operators to do just that. These platforms, although often underappreciated and underestimated, play a pivotal role in the context of operators’ revenue monetization strategies. They provide operators with the foundation to achieve true convergence, enable them to introduce next-generation services morerapidly, and facilitate the launch of IP-based offerings.
 
Batch-oriented mediation platforms are gradually becoming archaic, and the need of the hour is flexible, network-driven, bi-directional, on-line and off-line charging mediation platforms. Processing performance and the ability to run on low-cost hardware are some of the key features required of next-generation mediation systems. In fact, they need a multitude of capabilities ranging from being network-, technology- and vendor-agnostic to supporting triggering and analytics.
 
Most important among these is the ability to ensure that raw data usage capture, processing and distribution is done entirely in real time. Simultaneous data correlation and aggregation into single or multiple usage events is also vital to helping operators reduce data latency and optimize network resources. In addition, next-generation data mediation systems must supply validation rules and be able to check for and remove duplicate records, filter by user-defined criteria and correct errors in records as they are being processed. Lastly, it is critical that mediation systems be scalable and that they protect the billing layer by consolidating the increased amount of transactions amid the growth in mobile data usage.
 

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