VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Although the total wireless market continues to expand, the

actual rate of growth has, for the first time, declined. Capital expenditures

are being questioned more thoroughly and the very survival of many operators

hinges on their ability to collect enough revenues to cover the cost of keeping

services flowing. Against this backdrop, operators are struggling to utilize

their resources more wisely while still creating new services to keep existing

subscribers and attract new ones. Since 40 percent of the population is yet to

try wireless services, there is still considerable market potential.


The convergence of content, mobile telephony services, and

the Internet is creating market expectations for wireless access to information–anytime,

anywhere. Maintaining a leadership position among the growing number of

companies offering these services will demand the highest levels of flexibility

and agility. The leaders will be those organizations that can deliver content in

any format to any device without disruption to service, at the lowest possible



as a Driving Force

The amount of information being created every day continues to grow

dramatically. A study by the School of Information Management Systems at the

University of California, Berkley, found that more information will be created

over the next two years than has been created over the entire history of


Wireless: Unleashing Access To Information

As the wireless wave gains momentum, the information available through

mobile devices will grow in richness, complexity and volume. Expanded access

through wireless will drive content creation, content demand, and more

customized information services as consumer expectations grow with new

technological capabilities. The true value to both business and consumer will be

in managing all this content. For example, as billing systems become more

expansive, companies will generate more data and need to do more with that

content. In addition to transactional content, wireless expansion will also

create network-based user information, previously not available.


With the financial pressures mounting daily for wireless

service providers, new business models are constantly being explored and tested

in effort to distinguish one operator’s products from another while gaining

the elusive loyalty factor that makes the service quality a distinction, and

creates useful and ‘sticky’ service offerings. Carriers in the US and Canada

are experimenting with a variety of offerings ranging from gaming sessions,

downloaded ring tones and logos, instant messaging, and data delivery pricing


New Services, New Headaches?

In addition to designing and deploying new services, operators must also

deal with significant changes in their billing environments. Trustworthy, timely

and convenient billing is the bedrock of an operator’s revenue assurance. With

every call detail record (CDR) generated, operators create data from which to

generate bills, provide billing statements and ultimately collect revenues.

Aligned with the many billing changes, operators also need to contend with a

variety of internal IT management issues including:

n Deciding how

much information must be collected to pay the content providers.


n Managing the

processes and costs associated with collecting information for new services such

that they don’t negatively impact the revenues generated from these new


n Determining how

carriers can/should offer the security needed to be sure an enterprise customer’s

content is delivered only to its mobile workers

n Provisioning

new services on the fly–making sure operations systems are in synch with

service inventory and call collection systems.


Given the terabytes of information a typical telco generates

every month and the pressure to increase average revenues per user (ARPU) as

well as reduce churn, a robust and specialized information infrastructure is


Solid Infrastructure Is a Must

Moving from a voice-centric business model to an information services

delivery model will undoubtedly take time. It will also require many changes to

network elements, intelligent switches, added computer intelligence in the

remote data centers and/or central offices, as well as changes in how often and

where information is collected while it is stored and distributed to keep

traffic revenues from slipping away without having to deny services for lack of

current customer location and/or service order data.

This is where having the right infrastructure actually

becomes business critical. Depending on each operator’s billing environment,

this information infrastructure will comprise tools that:


n Simplify and

automate management of hardware or software from multiple storage vendors,

networks and hosts

n Speed up access

to and smooth the movement of data to help consolidate and distribute

information, and

n Improve data

recovery and provide business continuance in the event of system failure


Today, many operators utilize a combination of tape and

disk-based systems, often combined into storage area networks (SANs) to deposit

the validated call records, which can number in the hundreds of thousands per

hour. But what will happen when next generation services enter the picture? How

can systems process up to 500,000 calls a day if each CDR is a few hundred bytes

long? Most analysts predict that deployment of IP-based services and mobile

commerce can boost the amount of information collected substantially.

A Business Case

The prevailing storage philosophies for wireless service providers have been

built around traditional circuit-based voice messaging systems. In building this

infrastructure, operators often rely on traditional quantification of the amount

of data stored to create invoices and batch-oriented approaches to call- and

network-performance data statistics collection.

A full financial, business and operational assessment will

bring forth a compelling case for data storage specifically linked to the needs

and challenges of billing managers. These include managing and reducing costs,

absorbing changes to the systems when new lines of business are added or

dropped, and staying one step ahead of the competition by providing more

information and consolidating bills. In practical terms, this involves timely

access to current data that can also deliver several substantial benefits such



n Reduction in

‘revenue leakage’ due to call detail records lost during peak volume time or

due to information transfer inefficiencies

n Creation of a

way of collecting and filtering information needed to bill for all services

rendered to customers as opposed to ‘flat rate’ billing

n Faster access

to call records for fraud detection processing

n Maximized cash

flow by shortening the billing cycle and increasing the number of invoicing


n Analyzes

customer information for target marketing and service preferences

n Improved time

to market by speeding production of database refreshes after application

software or process testing

Caution! Changes Ahead

With the advent of the wireless Internet, the need for more robust

infrastructures will be vital to facilitate the daily movement of hundreds of

millions of data records from the edge of the network to the central office. The

major considerations for wireless operators will be the move from the

traditional CDR for voice-based services, to the new wave of data, voice,

multimedia and transactional services which will be represented by IPDR

(basically IP protocol packets of data containing all the necessary information

for charging, fraud analysis, QoS.) IPDRs may sometimes represent a higher value

item (i.e. revenue for current sports scores) than the revenue for voices calls.

Hence the need to implement business processes that will allow real-time

mediation and billing. In fact, this is an imperative for any business that

wishes to be successful in this economy by linking the transaction to a

service-based approach.

Storage strategies need to be re-evaluated to encompass new requirements. It

will no longer be a packaged solution sitting on a server in isolation. There is

a need to ensure that the transactional systems link the data streams from user

to provider and ensure that services are charged correctly, and billed according

to the customer’s SLA. This will be essential to ensure market acceptance and

success of new products such as gaming, advertising, financial services, or

micro payment services for parking, vending machines, and bus tickets.

Creating a Ripple Effect

Just as the intelligence resident at the central office, base station, or

service control point must be upgraded and dynamically structured to support

changing network requirements, data management within the network’s

distributed sites must be done.

Along with the migration from traditional equipment to client/servers and

soft switches comes the need to migrate from software buffers of information to

a reliable storage infrastructure at the edge of the network.

Individually, each application may involve small amounts of information.

However, the collective whole will add up to the equivalent of a small storage

network that can be contained on a rack or shelf within a server blade

appliance. From a content delivery perspective, the need to have an intelligent

storage network at the edge of the network will be critical to manage, protect,

and move structured or unstructured content (video, photos) in a

third-generation ‘always on’ mobile world.

Driven by requirements such as provisioning new services, expanding customer

services and updating operational systems, operators are experiencing increases

in the size and quantity of data marts or data warehouses they manage. Wireless

operators have an opportunity to change from an application centric viewpoint to

a service delivery viewpoint when architecting the data storage network for both

operations and business systems.

The Final Analysis

It’s all about business performance–whether that is related to improving

internal efficiencies and effectiveness, or competitive advantage and return on

shareholder equity. The real significance of deploying the ‘right’

information storage strategy is enabling carriers to extend their capabilities

into additional business support system areas while addressing operational

support systems and networking. It is the deployment of this kind of strategy

that will drive the right kind of business performance.

T Srinivasan country manager, EMC