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Reader Forum: VoLTE service evolution with no change requests

OpenCloud rounds out a three-part series to look at how carriers have options when it comes to support for their VoLTE deployments

In my previous column, I looked at how operators can evolve their service layers to streamline voice-over-LTE deployments and accelerate feature parity with legacy switched voice services. While service parity is an essential step for operators, it is only the first step.

To create real competitive differentiation and grow market share, operators will need to develop and deploy new, revenue-generating features and services that are closely aligned with consumers’ and enterprises’ changing needs. However, with service evolution depending on “change requests” sent to equipment manufacturers, the cost of innovation remains high. Operators also face long delays waiting for vendors to deliver service evolution projects, negatively impacting their first-mover advantage and market share.

Freedom to innovate quickly

To reduce costs and speed up innovation, operators need ways to develop and deploy new VoLTE features and services without depending on vendors. This requires the operator to have an open service layer on which features can be developed in-house and deployed directly into the VoLTE environment.

The good news is that enabling open development is simple from an architectural viewpoint. There are two practical ways it can be achieved:

Route 1: Deploying a VoLTE MMTel application server (VoLTE MMTel AS) that has open flexibility built-in
For operators who have yet to deploy a VoLTE MMTel application server in their environment, a good option is to choose an openly extensible VoLTE MMTel AS. As well as providing common IR.92 call-handling functionality out of the box, this kind of AS gives operators a fully integrated, open development environment where new, value-added functionality can be developed and deployed for subscribers quickly and at low cost.

Route 2: Deploying an open application server alongside a proprietary VoLTE MMTel AS
Many operators have already implemented (or at least selected) a proprietary VoLTE MMTel AS to provide common call-handling functionality defined by the VoLTE IR.92 standard. Where this is the case, operators can benefit by deploying an open application server alongside their chosen VoLTE MMTel AS. This allows operators and their chosen partners to develop, test and deploy new call-handling features without the pain of commissioning change requests from the VoLTE MMTel AS vendor. As a result, new, revenue-generating features can be delivered to subscribers faster and, crucially, at lower cost.

Route 2 case study: A Far-Eastern operator differentiates its VoLTE services quickly and at low cost
Facing intense domestic competition, one Far-Eastern operator needed to quickly create and deploy differentiated services to support its VoLTE launch. However, the company’s selected MMTel AS vendor could not deliver the required innovations within the timescales required.

Instead of submitting costly, time-consuming change requests to the MMTel AS vendor, the carrier instead added another vendors VoLTE AS to its environment. Leveraging development skills from their preferred systems integrator partner, the company was able to quickly create all the differentiating features it needed, including high-value enhanced video-conferencing for enterprise customers and “color ringback tones” for consumers.

The benefits of open, agile VoLTE development

Whichever route operators take, agile, open development provides compelling operational and commercial benefits. With no need for vendor change requests, it is possible to reduce innovation costs and time-to-market for new services. Operators can also react quicker to changing market conditions and customer demands, helping them to compete more effectively and increase market share.

That’s a wrap

In this three-column series, I have taken a look at how operators can leverage major trends in network evolution to reduce cost, save time and enhance service offerings, which ultimately helps them build sustainable competitive advantage:

• In the first column I discussed how operators can leverage the agility that network functions virtualization brings to deliver competitive advantages.

• In the second, I looked at how practical service layer evolution can help operators achieve VoLTE service parity faster and at lower cost.

• Here, I have shown how open, agile VoLTE development can help operators develop and deploy the high-value voice services of the future, with no costly, time-consuming vendor change requests.

Jonathan Bell, VP Marketing at OpenCloud, has worked in VC-funded software product companies in the telecommunications industry for more than 35 years. Bell was a founder and member of the executive team at Geneva Technology, a VC-funded telecoms billing startup company from 1995-2002. He was responsible for the original conception and design of the company’s convergent real-time billing system. Bell continued as VP product strategy for Convergys post Geneva’s acquisition in 2001.

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