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Software for Telecommunication Industry

30 Oct 2020 | Blog Business Process Automation

What is telecom software

Telecom software is a very broad concept. To be honest, it must be a broad concept, because the telco business is extremely complex. We can find tens of software components that are used to realize telco services to the customer.

At this point we could present an eTOM (enhanced Telecom Operation Map) diagram that shows the business processes required to be implemented at service providers and the relations between them. Then, we could write tens of pages to describe the processes, relations and the impact for real business.

Trying to avoid this potentially boring way of presenting the article’s topic let’s present – from business point of view – some of the most important types of software. So, generally the telco software can be divided into two main groups: BSS and OSS. BSS stands for Business Support Systems and OSS stands for Operations Support Systems.

According to these acronyms the BSS are systems connected with a commercial part of telco business, while OSS are systems that help everyday operations. Among areas covered by BSS we can mention: CRM, product management, order management, billing, charging, accounting, invoicing, interconnect etc. OSS usually covers such areas as: monitoring (both hardware and services), management, service provisioning, customer care.

Given areas can vary on particular telco operator depending on their needs and expected level of automatization.

What software system do telecom companies use?

What software system do telecom companies use?

Telco operators use very wide range of systems.  Let’s try go through this. As we mentioned earlier, there are two mains groups of software solution used by telecom: OSS (technical one) and BSS (business one).

OSS communicate directly with all devices and service platforms involved in delivery of services to the customers. Thanks to that OSS gathers most relevant and up-to-date data about current status of all components of operator’s infrastructure.

It is the source of all inventory information based on which the service provisioning is performed. In modern network environments we can find a huge number of dedicated devices, vendor specific management systems and platforms. The main role of OSS is to communicate with all that stuff in efficient and unified way.

The unification allows other systems (mainly BSS) for easy integration with technical infrastructure. OSS is used to monitor the status of infrastructure, especially the most critical elements in order to maintain the uninterrupted service delivery to the customer. OSS covers all maintenance operations handled by the operator and is used by the company’s technical staff.

BSS includes systems that are designed to support the operator’s works from the customer’s point of view for operations provided by OSS. BSS is the stack of systems that help telco operator to cooperate with its customers in order to perform operations provided by OSS. BSS can be divided into several main areas: revenue management, product management, order management and customer management.

Revenue management consist of such processes as billing and charging. Product management defines the set of products that can be provided to subscribers.  Order management is responsible for order handling.

Customer management is responsible for effective communication with subscriber in order to provide subscriber with relevant data (invoices, promotions, account status information, etc.) and to receive feedback (satisfaction surveys, reporting problems, etc.).

Operations Support Systems (OSS)

OSS is a set of software systems that helps operators in performing their everyday operational tasks. Sometimes we can find definition, that OSS defines the network systems.

It is said that OSS should covers such areas as:

  • network management,
  • service fulfilment,
  • service delivery,
  • service assurance,
  • customer care.

Network Management is responsible for administering and manging network components used in telecom’s environment. A network component can be not only network elements (NE) but also software components that realize very specific and often nice functions (e.g. Radius, domain controllers, SDx platforms etc.).

Network management should provide all tools necessary to make the network fully available. Of course, network availability depends on its architecture and used hardware components. It is obvious. We assume the network is built according to the art and network management is a software overlay that minimize the efforts of network operation tasks.

Network management must give the operator a view on current status of the network (monitoring), ability to reconfigure the NE’s, verification of firmware, allow to upgrade the firmware. The mentioned functions are even more important in multi-vendor environments. And we must know that nowadays all telecoms operate in such multi-vendor configurations.

Service Fulfilment (SF) is responsible for gathering all information that is necessary to send to hardware devices and system involved in service provisioning process. SF consist of set of service chain activities for assembling services and making them available to subscribers.

To ensure those requirements service fulfilment usually includes processes like: service design and cataloguing, inventory management, network configuration, network capacity assignment, service management (creation, deletion, modification).

Service Delivery (SD) is responsible for providing the services to the subscriber. From technical point of view, it must cover all necessary components (devices, interfaces, systems, flow definitions) that are required to perform configuration on technical assets resulting in setting and / or changing the service. SD very closely cooperates with Service Fulfilment to be able to effectively provide services to the subscribers.

Service Assurance (SA) is responsible for delivery the service (that has been already provisioned) to customers with best possible experience and according to defined and agreed parameters: SLA (service level agreement), KPIs (key performance indicator) and KQIs (key quality indicator).

From technical perspective SA is responsible for minimizing downtime of the service. The systems that realize service assurance tasks are responsible for fast finding the problems in the network that can have an impact on provided services and resolving those problems.

SA is a very broad topic including such areas as performance management, fault management, network and service testing, quality of service management, SLA monitoring, trouble ticket management, customer experience management.

Customer Care (CC) is responsible for being in touch with subscribers in a convenient and effective way. This area is extremely important, especially in nowadays, fully digital world. The subscriber expects easy access to all its important data and available services. And CC shall provide the tools for that.

Business Support Systems (BSS)

Business Support Systems (BSS)

Business support systems (BSS) are the components that a telecommunication service provider uses to run its business operations towards customers.

BSS focuses on business aspects of the services. In opposition to OSS systems, BSS does not communicate directly with the network elements or service platform that are used for configuring services to the customers.

Product Management (PM) is responsible for defining the set of products and services that can be offered to the customers and managing the lifecycle of the products. The most important module of PM is product catalogue.

It defines services that are provided to the subscribers, the way of charging and cross-product bundles.  Product catalogue describes the services from business perspective. Matching those business services into technical ones are done in other BSS modules – Order Management.

Customer Management (CM) is responsible for the best possible taking care of telecom customers. The main reason of CM is to minimize churn. From technical perspective CM should give both the operator and the subscriber single 360 view on subscribers contact data, ordered products, history of contacts, reported issues, billing information etc.

The operator using CM is able to offer additional services based on customer’s history and already bought products. Nowadays, one of the most visible effects of CM is a self-care portal (SCP).

Usually the self-care portal offers the most important – from subscriber perspective – options, such as viewing details of historical bills, current billing data, list of products, two-way communication with the operator.

Revenue Management (RM) is responsible for billing, charging and settlements. Billing must be realized in a few areas such as: customer, enterprise and wholesale, and a few aspects: interconnect, roaming. RM includes billing mediation and bill generation platforms.

Very important task being realized by RM is charging. Similar to billing it also touches both individuals, enterprises and other service providers. Revenue Management may also include other functionalities such as fraud management and revenue assurance.

Modern RM modules must be able to operate with any kind of communication service providers such as: fixed-line, mobile, ISP, TV, broadband and digital media. The key feature of Revenue Management module is a configurability. Thanks to that, the operator is able to be in touch with all new trends and monetize them in its BSS system.

Order Management (OM) is the process when the integration with OSS stack takes place to transform the business services into technical configuration. The OM consist of four main areas: sales order decomposition, failure management, orchestration and order status management.

Sales order decomposition is responsible for transformation high level business request into smaller parts that are able to perform on particular systems and service platforms. Orchestration is a process that gains popularity and importance in modern telco environments, where we can find a lot of specialized, dedicated domain-oriented solutions.

Thanks to orchestration, the operator can manage and monitor processing of operations across different platforms to ensure their optimal and cost-effective realization. Failure management acts as a guard that keep the service delivery process in the right condition and can react as soon as any problem start to occur.

Software required for telecommunication industry

Software required for telecommunication industry

What software is required for telecommunication industry? Answer depends on every telecom individual level of technical advance and specific conditions.  The simplest set must consist of CRM, billing solution and network monitoring.

It is great if it also includes some kind of service provisioning solution. We wrote “some kind of service provisioning” because even the simplest solution that automates the process of provisioning services gives extraordinary benefits to the telecom.  

The most spectacular and cost reducing is end-to-end (E2E) service provisioning. E2E service provisioning means the set of all operations performed on all network elements and systems that are necessary to perform for making the service available to the customer.

The E2E scenario can be quite complex, involving devices of different vendors, going through different technologies and systems.

How to build telecom software – best practices?

The process of building telecom software is very complex and thanks to that very complicated. it must meet many rules during the whole production to get at the end good, flexible, easy in maintain and very efficient telecom solution. Below we mentioned just a few high-level rules.

The first rule: be in touch with the market and industry. To achieve this, you need to be in touch with as many operators as you can, take a part in conferences, exhibitions and other telecom branch events. The very good idea is to cooperate with technical universities.

The second rule: plan your product well. It sounds easy but it is not. To do that you have to have not only knowledge of present processes and technologies, but also the vision how they will change in the future. The ability of using the software build today in the future is the key solution differentiator on the market.

The second rule: plan your product well. It sounds easy but it is not. To do that you have to have not only knowledge of present processes and technologies, but also the vision how they will change in the future. The ability of using the software build today in the future is the key solution differentiator on the market.

The fourth rule: use all available marketing tools and channels. You must know that telco market is full of all kinds of software the telco operator can expect. To be viewable you have to spend a lot of time and some money on reaching your customers. But if your solution will be innovative, using state-of-the-art technology, easy in use and cost effective you will be successful.