This year promises to be an exciting year in the OSS and BSS sectors as the industry moves into the next phase of support software deployment. Despite the economic gloom which still hangs over many of the world’s major economies, there is room for optimism in most of the geographical regions as operators in the mature markets begin to explore the possibilities of policy-based on-line charging (OLC).
In the emerging markets the growing requirement for more complex rating and billing functionality also promises rich pickings for those vendors with the right products. However, meeting these challenges is not a matter of choice for most operators – particularly for those who have or intend to embrace LTE -- because having the bandwidth necessary to offer mobile broadband data services is not enough without the support systems to fully exploit the technology. In all cases, the marriage of high-speed IP-based network infrastructure and the new generation of IT support systems will ultimately lead to a greater focus on areas such as customer experience, business intelligence and innovative ways of dealing with network congestion.
One of the most exciting developments in 2012 will be the increase in demand for policy-based OLC as operators begin to exploit some of the opportunities for innovative service development offered by the technology. There is a danger however that the speed of this development will be hampered by operators’ apparent inability to get their network and service creation staff working together cohesively and resolve issues such as who owns the service model.
There will be further development of tiered services based on speed, volume and time of day as a defensive strategy against network congestion. Operators in mature markets will focus more closely on the monetization of mobile broadband data services, which in turn will drive other areas of growth such as Facebook and other social networking-based plans, hybrid accounts and customer self-provisioning. As 2012 progresses, there will also be an increase in demand for Diameter-based routing as signaling becomes a problem particularly in the Radio Access Network (RAN) because unlike their predecessors, LTE networks are subject to 100% smartphone penetration from day one.
An intriguing development is the trend towards the use of SaaS in the OSS/BSS sector, driven by the demand for more complex service support and the requirement to squeeze the last bit of investment from legacy systems. It is possible that the perceived capex and opex savings gained from using cloud-based systems could add further momentum to this trend, given the current economic climate. However, issues around latency and security will need to be addressed.
Vendors of network optimization software could see a rise in demand for their products, in particular those relating to RAN congestion as femtocells and other small-cell technologies are increasingly used in a traffic management role.