Smarten up those pipes

John C Tanner
11 Mar 2010

The chief attraction of SDPs now, according to Kristofer Kimbler, senior analyst and executive editor for the Moriana Group, is their ability to serve as a common horizontal platform stretching across vertical service silos, which means a shared management platform for different services, which in turn means lower management costs and faster service rollouts.

Moreover, SDPs also promise to enable operators to leverage assets they already have to make their pipes "smarter:" rich subscriber profile data, universal authentication mechanisms (i.e. SIM cards) and advanced billing and charging mechanisms, as well as the network itself.

But the real payoff, Kimbler adds, is the capability of SDPs to enable third-party businesses to tap into those network assets.

"Using SDP as a B2B-enabling platform could possibly empower service providers to truly capitalize on their unique and expansive knowledge of their customers, if they can cut through the hype and figure out what is really out there and what is best for their situation," Kimbler said in a recent TM Forum report on SDPs.

For proof points, one need look no further than the big brands of the Web 2.0 era: Google, Amazon, Skype and Facebook, all of whom owe their success in no small part to adopting business models that attract third parties and support best-of-breed IT infrastructure, Kimbler says.

"Amazon did not take a walled-garden approach; it was not afraid to open the door to competitors, not even high-street brand competitors," Kimbler says. "Rather than approach other stakeholders as potential 'free-loaders' taking free rides on their networks, CSPs have an opportunity to generate revenue from third parties anxious to leverage CSP strengths - namely the close relationships with customers, and a wealth of data about customer preferences, location and habits," as well as OSS/BSS processes such as fulfillment, assurance, real-time charging and billing.

Operators are already getting the message, says Holmala of NSN. "Our customers are mainly using SDP to enable a third-party ecosystem. No telco can do everything by itself, so they're industrializing the process of introducing those services. They've just needed the tools to enable that."

Apps hype

Kimbler (via the TM Forum) lists a number of service opportunities for operators that get their SDP strategy right, from revitalizing core voice services (think real-time charging for prepaid and apps with a click-to-teleconference feature, for example) to real-time data for mobile ads, context-aware data for location-based services and m-commerce, to include mobile banking and remittance services.

At the moment, the biggest hype is centered around app stores. Cellcos have wanted a piece of the app store action for awhile now, and a number of them have already launched them, including China Mobile, Telstra, Maxis, Vodafone and Verizon Wireless, among others.


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