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Total Convergence Architecture

In the initial stages of the ‘New Telecoms’ boom when new technologies and deregulation were side-by-side changing the landscape the focus of most Communications Services Providers (CSPs) was on developing market share. This dynamic growth led to many CSPs developing complex system stacks which were developed in order to provide services to a broad base of customers and markets. 

Total Convergence ArchitectureOver the last few years the industry has matured, both from a technical perspective and also from a business view. No longer is it sufficient to acquire customers at any cost, now the focus is on delivering the right services in an efficient way so that the CSP preserves its place in the market whilst remaining a financially viable concern. 

In order to do this the CSP will need to use the most efficient parts, both technically and from a business process perspective, of its systems and practices. Most CSPs today have developed with separate prepaid and postpaid systems and the industry as a whole has recognised that this is an area where significant savings can be made. 

When first launched prepaid was seen as a poor relation to postpaid. It was initially aimed at customers who could not have or did not want long-term credit agreements. Initially the prepaid systems concentrated on technical issues such as availability, fault tolerance and performance concerns. However as the systems matured more functionality was added and many CSPs now offer virtually a full suite of services to both prepaid and postpaid customer bases. This has resulted in having two customer bases sharing services but with different payment methods. Since the difference in payment methods is the tip of the iceberg, which results in separate system stacks, this causes headaches in implementing new services for the CSP. From the customers perspective it is a false separation as customers wish to pay by whichever method is more suitable for them, rather than have a fixed method for everything.

Moreover any CSPs with both prepaid and postpaid systems have a wealth of functionality which if combined could provide valuable new services to enable customers and CSPs to manage their finances and risks in more flexible ways. The coexistence of complementary functionalities, which cannot be combined, is a frustration that should be addressed.

As a result of these issues the separation of prepaid and postpaid causes problems that are no longer necessary. The industry as a whole has recognised this, and after several years of hype and false starts, is now finally embracing prepaid-postpaid convergence as one of the hot topics for real deployment.

As with all issues in the BSS/OSS space the concepts can sound straightforward but successful implementation requires clear understanding of the aims, a responsive approach to address issues as they arise, and experience in working in a demanding telecoms environment. It should also not be overlooked that convergence poses business as well as technical challenges – building organisational convergence is essential for the successful deployment of the technical solution. 

Cerillion has produced this paper in order to highlight the key issues that need to be addressed, and to present a framework – the Total Convergence Architecture – which CSPs can use to achieve the savings and benefits that a prepaid-postpaid convergent solution must deliver.