When the industry discusses 5G, it is seldom through the lens of BSS but soon 5G BSS will be firmly in our sights. All the talk about monetisation of 5G services has concentrated on high-level issues such as which sector will prove most profitable and even higher level issues around how much 5G will add to our economies and societies.
In preparation for the new focus on 5G BSS many vendors are – and have been for a while concentrating on how they deliver the most flexible BSS from the Cloud.
AWS has been one major beneficiary. Both Netcracker and, more recently, CSG have made announcements of deals with AWS in order to be 5G ready. CSG’s Ascendon platform is in production with telecoms companies worldwide. Others, such as Cerillion, with its Skyline products and Openet have been ‘cloud native’ for a while now.
The other Cloud providers, such as Google Cloud and Azure, will also benefit as vendors spread the risk of going to the Cloud, by choosing multiple platforms.
This BSS trend, which we saw with 3G BSS, 4G BSS and now 5G BSS follows a tried and trusted pattern.
First, the industry fixates on getting the technology right while the marketers concentrate on painting broad brush pictures of what the current ‘G’ will do for the world. In the main, the hype becomes so bad that it is close to lying. For instance, the early days of WAP promised full scale, full speed web surfing (which has taken 20 years or so to deliver).
Then, when the infrastructure is in place (or if you go back nearly 30 years, markets had opened up to competition), billing and BSS become the term on everybody’s lips. CEOs at grand conferences such as the Mobile World Congress say things like ‘it all comes back to billing. Absolutely!’ And, even more irritatingly if you are involved in a global billing association ‘if you cannot bill it, it is just a hobby!’
Then, said Billing Association takes off and the discussion becomes very interesting and we talk about billing for content, quality of service, automated customer service and rating millions, then billions and now trillions of records a day.
What is encouraging is that 5G BSS might be different, in that we might actually see some of these concepts come to life.
Many believe that the enterprise and small to medium business market will be a major, initial, focus for 5G providers. This might involve the re-emergence of private networks or the management of a portfolio of applications that a company needs to run its business. Quality of Service, end to end management fees, device management and other models will predominate.
Yet it is now becoming clear that the consumer applications are being taken up with an extraordinary hunger. This is fine, except that telecoms companies are not convinced that they can charge extra for what the consumer will perceive as extra speed and not much more.
Surely, though, that is what the marketing guys should be concentrating on instead of hyping the extra speed. Being able to use augmented reality or being able to take gaming to a whole new level is a tangible extra benefit of 5G. The speed and latency should be the means to the end not the end to the means.
Maybe it is too late. Maybe the marketeers have, once again, missed that golden opportunity to get away from speed or the new technology saving the world.
The glimmer of hope is that a digital culture has had another five to 10 years to sink into the DNA of telecoms companies and this time it just might be different.
Let us hope that this is true and we can welcome 5G BSS and the discussions (even implementations and applications) that this will trigger.