Billing support systems must become more flexible, more granular, and more able to deliver real-time results to function in the coming era of SDN and NFV, according to the latest Heavy Reading report, "BSS Requirements for SDN & NFV."
Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee and Analyst Sarah Wallace looked at what the new breed of services will look like if -- or maybe we should say "when" -- the virtualization transformation occurs, and also asked network operators for their expectations of billing in the era of NFV and SDN. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)
They note that services will be more personalized and will draw from capabilities provided by third parties, which will need to be compensated, thus creating new levels of complexity for billing systems, which must both monitor usage and assess compensation. The explosion in the number of services to be offered is what produces the need for greater granularity in billing systems, which today only have to consider a limited number of almost completely static service options, the report notes.
In particular, operators need to be able to monetize the use of virtualized functions by their enterprise customers or by service partners, such as over-the-top (OTT) content providers. That means paying more attention to the billing systems that will enable that monetization, the report states.
Service providers are already recognizing the need for improved billing, Banerjee and Wallace note. In a Heavy Reading survey, 14% of service providers said they have already started evaluating the impact of NFV on their BSSs, 20% said they planned to do that evaluation in the next six months, and 30% said they would do it in the next one to two years.
Vendors need to be prepared to offer a virtualized BSS ecosystem that has the flexibility to allow network operators to monetize new services in an efficient way, the Heavy Reading analysts note. This will mean a major shift away from today's more rigid and static BSSs.
Architectural changes are also afoot. The expectation is that systems in use today to track usage and deliver application-specific performance, such as policy management and deep packet inspection, will be closely tied to the SDN controllers which will be orchestrating network resources.
The report also notes changes needed in how billing and charging are handled to enable full capture of metered records and support for self-service portals to deliver on-demand services as well.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
Want to learn more about NFV, SDN and smarter telco operations? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.