Orga CEO Ramez Younan explains to group editor Joseph Waring how telcos can address their biggest pain points and the need to serve customers through innovation
Telecom Asia: What do you see as the biggest pain point for telcos?
Younan: Operators face a lot of pain because the reality is hitting that they've been working on the pipe trying to provide more traffic, but all of a sudden they get hit with all the data and video load where the real beneficiary is the over-the-top players.
Some commentators point to Google's and Apple's share prices, meanwhile, Google is investing $500 million, Apple is investing $1.5 billion in R&D while others are investing $5.5 billion. What's wrong with this picture? It's obvious that operators are starting to feel the heat of the demand, but they are not actually able to monetize it.
To be able to monetize it they need to lower the cost of the networks. And when they do so, inevitably they will end up differentiating the type and speed of service from one customer to another, from one tariff to another. You cannot do this unless you have a real-time policy management and rating and charging. So it goes back to how you are able to control the network bandwidth, and at the same time how to monetize it appropriately in time.
What are the obstacles in moving to a converged billing platform?
For years we have believed that postpaid was dead. But many operators continued putting their architecture on postpaid, because the urgency was to deal with postpaid customers. These guys are now kind of stuck because when it comes to convergence, where everybody is going, you have to choose one or the other platform ?prepaid or postpaid. But postpaid, architecture-wise, cannot handle the volume of subscribers which is generally about 85% prepaid of the total.
What impact is the move to data having on billing systems?
Many vendors are trying to react by acquiring other engines. While on the face of it you can integrate any engine that you want, the reality is you add complexity with each addition. This is okay if you're talking about voice and SMS, but the minute you start dealing with data charging and rating you face the complexity of how to ensure low latency on an application that is spread over several engines. And if you want to be able to add a new tariff, how long will it take you to set up on this engine and test it and so on? So the time to market can become much more important.
How are these factors affecting operators?
They are putting a lot of stress on billing vendors, which have to figure out how they can provide performance, functionality, low latency and, with convergence, quick time to market.
Has your focus on convergence made a difference with customers?
We've seen strong demand for our application based on a real-time platform with one engine, which is providing those benefits to the customer. In just one year interest from customers has quadru