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Network transformation "how to" tops global operators' lists

The services side of telecom network transformation is of high concern to global service providers as they try to reconcile short-term consumer-services revenue opportunities with longer-term network-planning cycle opportunities and design next-gen platforms that work for both.

Kate Gerwig, Site Editor
Kate Gerwig
In mid-February, the prototype for the first open source services network architecture was released to the global telecom public by its creator, Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. and frequent contributor. This was the Alpha One version of ExperiaSphere, so it's not ready to test in anyone's network. Still, because of its novelty (telecom and "open source" have never been synonymous), I checked in with Tom to see what the reaction had been so far.

Service providers must be in search of answers because, in short, the reaction has been huge, and it is completely tied in to concerns about IP network transformation. Nolle believes the interest stems largely from providers' need to drive up the "R" (return or revenue) and drive down the "I" (investment) in ROI (return on investment). There's a disconnect that needs to be addressed quickly to stop the falling value of transport per bit and shorten the consumer-services cycle while keeping the longer process of planning the network stable.

If you separate telecom network planning from telecom services planning, carriers are on top of the former and need help with the latter, Nolle believes. "It seems that operators are saying, 'We understand how to do our part of this process, but we have failed in our ability to exploit it,' " he explained.

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That of course explains the mission of the people getting in touch with Nolle about open source services solutions – services architects, product line managers for new service opportunities, and developers – all people focused on the front-end of the retail service experience opportunity. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as an example. A great deal of the focus was on mobile app stores and open handsets. Providers were focused on third-party access, partnership programs and developer opportunities.

"That's a profound point that shows operators are interested in a revenue-driven transformation much more than a cost-driven transformation," Nolle said. "If service providers are saying, 'We're interested in driving top-line up, not interested in driving cost-line down,' that would be good news for equipment vendors and for innovation in general."

The challenge is that service provider's need help doing it, and even though Nolle created ExperiaSphere to address services network architecture, an open source solution from a small company is not the traditional way to pursue something like this. "There must be some fairly significant deficiencies elsewhere to account for the interest," he said.

The seven-year capital cycle for service providers is understood, but the six-month consumer services cycle is not. And the ultimate point of network transformation is to do both. "We need to couple together those two things that currently move at very different velocities," Nolle said.

And that's the challenge.

This was last published in March 2009

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