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Tag Archives: Partner Management

Enterprise Blockchain: How it will Change the Telecom Intercarrier Settlement Process

Enterprise Blockchain solution for telecom seems to be a promising development for the telecom industry as it strives to solve the challenges faced by Telcos in their settlement process. It is based on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) which has attracted lot of attention in the recent time to offer a  Way to record transactional data that should become a single source of truth to establish digital trust in the partnerships.

Why Telcos are looking at blockchain as a possible solution for partner settlement? Telecom network operators across the world gets into interconnect agreement which enable a seamless communication among their customers. These agreements are executed between domestic and international operators for mobile, fixed and internet services. Telecom operators collect and store detailed activity information as events. Interconnect partners share these CDRs for the purpose of verification and settlements. This process is cumbersome, inefficient, lengthy, costly, and error-prone. Missing CDRs and discrepancies in CDRs are very common problems.

As the interconnect revenue continues to decline it has become essential to address the blocked revenue due to disputes and to optimize the overall cost involved in resolving these discrepancies. The enterprise blockchain present a possibility that can make the settlement process error free and help the Telcos a faster and efficient access to the blocked revenue. Subex is actively working with multiple enterprise blockchain technologies to address the need.

Subex is chairing the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Special Interest Group (SIG) Intercarrier Settlement subgroup to develop DLT based solution for partner settlement process. The purpose of the Special Interest Group (SIG) is to help Telcos understand the key issues in partner settlement and offer possible solutions for the same. Subex has been a key contributor in creating the solution brief. The group has been successful in defining a solution based on Hyperledger Fabric developing a working PoC which is available for demonstration for those who are interested.

The proposed solution broadly addresses how a DLT-based solution can:

  • Converts the reactive dispute management process to more proactive process
  • Create a single source of truth, which allows network operators to access and verify billing and cross-charging data in real-time.
  • Reduce overall costs by replacing tedious processes, reducing dependency on intermediaries such as clearinghouses with simple, near real-time and error-free reconciliation and settlement process.
  • Help in evidence collection and fraud mitigation.

DLT has shown great potential in solving issues related to fraud, errors and creating a secure data source. Given the possibilities mentioned in the solution document, the likelihood of extending it as a full-fledged solution is very high which means faster dispute resolution, reduction in overall cost and an efficient partnership that will help Telcos embrace the new technologies and innovate their services as per the need of the market.

Link to access solution brief: Here

Link to the Hyperledger Blog: Here

How the Power of 5G will Redefine Partner Management

For an industry struggling and grappling with the speed at which new technology innovations are gaining relevance, 5G promises to be a serious game changer and the claim is completely merited. But nevertheless, telecom operators and their partners are very optimistic with the promised power that 5G will bring but are wary of the super-organizational efforts it will take to have real bottom line impact. 5G will change the equation for the industry much like the advent of cellular phones and services did when they shook the world with its possibilities.

One Promise, Myriad Applications

With adjacent technologies like Multi Access Edge Computing and Network functions virtualization to AR/VR that will thrive, the emergence of 5G promises to increase the number of connected smart devices.

The use cases are many, and some are life changing. Video delivery and adverts are two areas that will significantly gain from enhanced speed, making the experiences highly personalized. The Quality of Service and SLA for each of these use case will depend on the criticality, and the acceptable thresholds will be adjusted based on the services. Quality of Experience (QoE/QoX) models will evolve for newer applications.

 

With the ability to service numerous connected devices, the levels of quick and agile responsiveness are going to shake up the current equation. 5G will provide low latency needed for AR/VR enabling high speed data transfer. The impact of all these of course is a significant improvement in quality and experience!

The impact of 5G thus, affects telecom operators of course, but also sees a lot of across industry use cases. The discoveries of new use cases will lead to the rise of modern partnerships in areas such as IoT, AR/VR, smart homes, virtualized networks, distributed cloud amongst others. So, hospitals as enterprise partners for remote surgeries, augmented reality shopping experience for brands, collaboration apps that are reinventing mainstream games – these are just some of the possibilities that will impact enterprise business as well as retail.

However, as we move ahead, there are two aspects that need to be clear:

  • The basics of what this promised change is in terms of technology, capability and regulations
  • What operators need to do to fully optimize the powerhouse performance that is expected from 5G

Yes, they could both be moving targets and rapidly adapting is the need of the hour.

A Careful Hope

The reason why caution must be exercised though it is easy to get carried away in the excitement is that the basic systemic problems remain unchanged. Tightening regulatory norms and increased compliance requirements, the global debate on privacy and data breaches, intense competition translating to depreciating profit – all these are very much alive.

5G must be embraced by operators but there needs to be a method of adoption. There is greater scope for perimeter security and 5G will mean increased efficacies, but all of this will only come to fruition if these exercises are balanced with understanding the now-more-than-ever-importance of data analytics, AI and machine/deep learning and understanding how all of these components will be needed to offer improved service. What this means is that network operators finally have a chance to take somewhat of a centre-stage in ascertaining more control over two critical aspects

1) Re-building their customer experience so there is a shift in perception and hopefully loyalties and

2) Finally finding a way to ensure monetization is addressed

Changing the Paradigm with 5G

The journey towards 5G implementation is going to be a long and arduous one. While 4G is not something that operators can ignore entirely and shouldn’t, there must be a re-look into the operators’ own business models and relationships with key stakeholders. They need to see where deeper relationships can be forged to understand the customer’s somewhat limited yet exaggerated expectations of 5G.

For the 5G promised change to make a significant difference, industry require alertness towards the variegated forms that disruption and transformation are going to take. The definite actions to make this happen will simply make all the difference between success and failure for the world’s telecom operators.

To know more about Subex Partner Management solution.

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What is Telecom Interconnect Billing System?

Interconnect is a process for telecom operators to handle calls for other operators thus allowing people who are using different networks to communicate with each other in both domestic and international scenario. Point of Interconnection is used to connect the physical interface between two different telecom operators to connect their customers. If operator A and operator B are not interconnect partners, their customers would not be able to call each other. So, to allow ease of communication, operators get into interconnect agreements with each other thus allowing good business opportunity for them.

What is Interconnect Billing System

It is a centralized automated solution that supports multi-party agreements with multiple service providers to use the network and facilitate the traffic routing between multiple networks like circuit-switched networks (e.g. PSTN), or computer networks (e.g. Internet). The traffic flow is regulated through the policies defined by the rules integrated in the system according to the interconnect agreement between the operators. The interconnect billing solution is capable of near real time processing to allow business optimization and help in achieving increased operational efficiency and network profitability. As the business in most of the cases is bidirectional, billing systems perform 2 key tasks-

  • Managing Deals or Bilateral Bulk Agreements
  • Partner Settlements –the incoming and outgoing invoices are taken through a net-off process where the net payable or receivables are identified

Need for Interconnect Billing System

  • 360 ° Process Efficiencies

Achieve accurate rating, invoicing, reconciliation and settlements with efficiency to manage interconnect, roaming and content settlements.

  • Near Real-Time Insights

Enable fast business decision making with the help or near real time reporting to prevent losses.

  • Business Control and Transparency

Allow better control over carrier related activities with proper monitoring system and achieve transparency with timely and insightful decision making.

Key Features in an Interconnect Billing System

  • Billing and settlements: Manage interconnect, digital and content services
  • Roaming management: Enables settlements between partners for roaming services
  • Partner portal: Provides partner interface for business and self-service operations without unveiling the application
  • Number billing and routing: Manages interconnect billing and routing for origin-based routing (OBR) by tracking buy and sell destinations, dial code movements for terminating destinations and origin groups
  • Prepay management: Guides business relationships with new partners and mitigates business risk
  • Reconciliation: Verifies payables and receivables between partners
  • Dispute management: Minimizes disputes between partners related to payments and services
  • Multi-tenant environment: Supports mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), multi-BU environment
  • Buying, selling, routing: Optimizes transactions related to international calls

Here is a case study to know how Subex helped a tier 1 APAC telecom operator reduced their billing cycle by almost 75% and achieved business efficiency and profitability.

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Gestión de acuerdos de socios en la era digital

La digitalización ha abierto una gran cantidad de oportunidades para que los proveedores de servicios de comunicación (CSP) en todo el mundo transformen sus ofertas de servicios tradicionales, pasando de la telefonía a las empresas basadas en contenido y alcanzando el estado de proveedores de servicios digitales (DSP). Hay un cambio de paradigma en el ecosistema de telecomunicaciones con la entrada de disruptores tecnológicos (como los jugadores OTT) que resulta en una cartera de servicios con modelos de precios competitivos. El agotamiento de los ingresos de voz y el aumento de los servicios de datos ha cambiado la dinámica de las asociaciones comerciales.

El proveedor tradicional de servicios de telecomunicaciones ya no está aislado en el mercado y tiene múltiples colaboraciones para audio, video, contenido, análisis, nube, etc. Además, debido a la reducción de los márgenes, los operadores esperan tener contratos / acuerdos con sus proveedores y socios, lo que creará una situación de ganancia para ambas partes involucradas. Según una encuesta reciente realizada por TM Forum, los DSP tienen una oportunidad de ingresos de alrededor de $ 142 mil millones de servicios digitales. Ya sea que AT&T adquiera Time Warner por $ 85.4 mil millones o que Reliance Jio se integre con Saavn para crear la aplicación JioSaavn, las empresas de telecomunicaciones buscan implementar contenido exclusivo para sus clientes finales. Teniendo en cuenta que hay mucho que ganar, un DSP sin una oferta de contenido fuerte en el escenario actual es casi inimaginable.

Un DSP a menudo tiene cientos de contratos de proveedores de contenido (en su mayoría con agregadores) para administrar, y hay una gran diversidad de socios que van desde un desarrollador de garaje hasta Google.

Construyendo factores de éxito:

El fenomenal aumento en el consumo de datos por parte de los suscriptores y el contenido gratuito está impulsando la mayoría de los negocios principales de las empresas de telecomunicaciones en la actualidad. Además de esto, pocas empresas de telecomunicaciones se están asociando con jugadores OTT para proporcionar contenido exclusivo y servicios especializados en forma de paquetes premium. Las suscripciones OTT dirigidas por operadores se han convertido en el nuevo modelo de negocio que genera ingresos y segmentos de clientes.

Building Success Factors
Fuente : IHS Markit

Impulsar nuevos modelos de negocio: el creciente nivel de complejidad

Inicialmente, se intercambiaron hojas de tarifas entre socios para facturar el uso de los servicios. Más tarde celebraron acuerdos bilaterales para liquidar los ingresos entre ellos. Ahora, las empresas de telecomunicaciones se están moviendo a contratos digitales al asociarse con proveedores de contenido y otros jugadores OTT. Estos contratos digitales implican calificaciones de nivel o bandas / junto con exclusiones / descuentos. Los compromisos y la calificación basados ​​en parámetros específicos han aumentado el nivel de complejidad con respecto a la calificación y el cobro a sus socios.

Pasemos por 3 tipos de acuerdos que se ejecutan entre socios en estos días:

Existen varios escenarios de acuerdo (acuerdos) entre el operador y el socio de contenido basados ​​en diferentes modelos de negocio. Además, los modelos de ingresos compartidos han evolucionado desde un esquema de porcentaje fijo a en un enfoque basado en niveles o bandas a traves de los distintos escenarios de productos.

1. Un acuerdo basado en nuevas suscripciones

Número de nuevas suscripciones   Participación en ingresos

0 – 500                                            P %

501 – 2000                                     Q %

2001 y más                                     Q % y % adicional T % por número de suscriptores >2000

Según el acuerdo del socio, si las nuevas suscripciones son negativas para un mes en particular, no se realizará ningún pago al socio para ese mes.

2. Un acuerdo basado en promociones

Los ingresos compartidos entre las partes serán mensuales. El período de promoción puede ser de unos pocos meses o puede ser continuo. Si el usuario se suscribe al contenido de

Meses                  Participación en los ingresos

1 mes                           P %

2 Meses                       Q %

3 meses y más             R %

3. Un acuerdo basado en la penetración en el mercado.

En este escenario, el operador puede compartir los ingresos en función de la penetración de los suscriptores en un área. La complejidad involucrada aquí es que el nivel de penetración de cada mercado es diferente del otro. Además de esto, hay ciertas áreas donde el radio se define con respecto a un punto de referencia. A los suscriptores dentro del radio se les cobrará una prima y, en consecuencia, la participación en los ingresos.

En el escenario competitivo del mercado actual, las asociaciones se han convertido en una necesidad para los operadores de telecomunicaciones y avanzan mediante la firma de contratos innovadores y complejos. Los ejemplos mencionados anteriormente de contratos / acuerdos digitales son algunos de los modelos que hemos tratado recientemente. En el futuro, veremos muchos de estos modelos con mayor complejidad y definiciones de contratos digitales innovadores.

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How Industry Trends are Impacting Telecom Partnerships

Trends that are creating a shift

With democratizing access to technology, more and more people are embracing it and telecom is one of the industries which is most affected by this shift. More and more people will have mobile by 2020 and the amazing thing is the revenue of this user acquisition will be driven by data consumption as compared to voice/SMS or other traditional services which were the base of telecom offering till recent time.

Operators are sensing the shift happening in the user choices and trying to figure out ways to stay in the competition. Mobile broadband connection to increase from 55% of the total in 2016 to 73% by 2020. The number of smartphone users will reach 5.7 billion by 2020 which means more and more people will be using data as a telco service and be a part of the digital ecosystem. Mobile data is expected to grow at a CAGR of 47% till 2020.

If we see the driving factors behind this shift, OTT, content and other digital service providers have played a major role. See the below graph on how the composition of services has changed over time.

It’s not only the addition of new partners to the digital ecosystem, but the traditional wholesale is also evolving. Here are the new trends which we can see happening in wholesale.

Implications on Telcos due to digitalization

Telcos no more work in silos as they are disrupted by the new age service providers hence looking for new partners to offer competitive and exciting services to its consumers. The below chart shows the changes happening in the telecom industry. This is forcing telcos to search for innovative and unique economic models.

 

New Possibilities for Telcos

These trends have opened a lot of possibilities to explore additional business avenues and try new economic models. The telco revenue mix is also changing with the partner mix as we can see in the graph and it is impacting the way telcos operate and manage partnerships in a traditional format. Hence the partner lifecycle management is also becoming imperative for telcos to embrace the digital revolution. For example, there will be 25 billion connected things by 2025 with enterprise verticals as the main drivers. Blockchain in telco has so far been limited to roaming but experimentation could take this further, especially if eSIM came to smartphones.

Smartphone connection will increase to 79% of the total mobile connection bringing in new customers. Over a fifth of the world’s markets will have launched 5G by 2020, spending a combined $244 billion on networks in the process which will bring new capabilities for telcos.

How Telcos can Embrace Digitalization Successfully

The need of the hour is a unified solution which can cater to all the requirement of the ecosystem. The system should be able to provide visibility for everyone in the ecosystem to establish trust among the partners. Right from efficiently managing the partner onboarding, to partner settlements and dispute management, the system should be able to make the whole journey seamless for both traditional and digital service partners. The below image shows some of the capabilities of the system.

This unified solution will allow telcos to transition through the changing paradigm and add agility and scalability to the business to embrace any new technology and consumer behavioral shift.

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Choosing the Right Converged Partner Management Solution

What is a Converged Partner Management Solution?

Converged partner management is a unified solution which caters to the entire gamut of partner needs of a telecom operator. The platform addresses the needs of both traditional and digital partners by spreading across different domains and helps to handle the complex relationships between the suppliers and vendors of the telecom operator.

Why you need a Converged Partner Management Solution

Over the last decade, digitalization has transformed the communication service provider (CSP) landscape. It has created a need to achieve market differentiation in response to the evolving customer profiles and prevail over emerging challenges from disruptive services. Telco revenues from legacy voice and SMS are on the decline and there is high CAPEX associated with network innovation. Telcos can turn this around by evolving as Digital Service Providers (DSPs). But the biggest challenge in this transformation is to bring both traditional and new digital partners together to create an integrated industry specific solution. But the success rate of these partnerships and integrations is very low as it comes with multiple challenges. Inefficient partner onboarding process, tariff management for multiple plans, billing and invoice reconciliation while taking OPEX into consideration. Based on a research 70% of partnerships fail due to trust and clarity of business relationships. There is a need of sustainable partnerships which can create value for everyone in the ecosystem.

In this scenario, a converged partner management approach proves beneficial from both business and service perspectives. From the business perspective, a converged platform will help to visualize the partners’ business. It will consolidate partners into a single contractual binding and bundle the offerings, settlements, and payments across the entire domains. A converged partner management solution packs features that give CSPs freedom to experiment with NGN service offerings such as content management without having to worry about the scalability of its billing function. The solution enables telecom operators to have all their business partnerships in one single place and makes it easier to access information and make efficient business decisions. This is especially important as different partners insist different models in measuring the business impact and ROI.

How to Choose the Right Converged Partner Management Solution

Selecting a partner management solution to manage your partnerships efficiently is not an easy decision. The solution should complement the operations of the service provider and offers features and functionalities that remove operational errors and smoothen the partner management process.

Below are the key features you should look for in a Converged Partner Management Solution

Partner Self Onboarding: The partner onboarding platform can support self-boarding, manual onboarding and in some cases, a mix of both. The self-boarding platform will play a significant role in the digital era, giving the DSP the ability to perform most of the onboarding activities by automating the process like partner scoring on configurable KPIs and other partner details.

Partner Scoring- Pre-Onboarding & Post Onboarding: Partner scoring can assist an operator to take pre and post onboarding decisions based on business KPIs, and this can be combined with standard agreed contracts to make the complete process automated.

Defining the Partner Business: Defining the businesses of both traditional and digital partners is a complex process especially in the context of service offerings, revenue sharing and service agility. The business for traditional partners such as interconnect revolved around exchange of voice, SMS and usage of other services so the contract includes bilateral deals for settling the traffic and event rates. On the other hand, contract with digital partners like OTT players, content providers, VAS companies, MSOs, integrators, app developers, IoT and M2M service providers involves complex revenue sharing model as the settlement may be based on usage of resources, impressions/ clicks on the website, readings from metered equipment, among others. A converged partner management solution will help telcos to implement revenue sharing models that can be fixed, shared or a hybrid depending on the nature of the partner business.

End-to-End Billing and Settlement: Helps the business to define rules and apply them to the events acquired to generate the final revenue figure to both the DSP and the partner. The system achieves this through accurate rating and charging, real-time updates, and on-time bill and statement generation.

ETL (extract, transform, load) to Track and Process Events: The ETL tool is required to process different types of events from various sources and transform them to respective entities by extracting the relevant information. Considering the dynamic and open nature of the DSP ecosystem, the ETL tool should be flexible enough to handle the frequent onboarding of new partners and build mediation capability supporting ingestion and normalization of data from multiple partners in different formats.

Partner Communication and Self-Care: A converged platform should enable a consolidated communication portal to manage all the operational aspects of the business including contractual updates, bills, settlements, credit debit notes, trouble ticketing, and dispute management. The portal should also be integrated to the backend systems to orchestrate each operational aspect towards the respective system for action and resolution. Finally, it should feature open APIs that enable quick integration with third-party systems.

Visibility of Partner Business: Real-time visibility ensures transparency across the businesses. Through real-time analytics of reports, alerts and notifications, the converged platform can enhance the visibility and reporting across different channels.

all-in-one-PS

Are You Ready?

New age partnerships require transparency and trust between the partners to create a robust ecosystem. A Converged Telecom Partner Management solution will help telcos to manage these new age partnerships efficiently and enable them to drive new business models. This will also reduce the time to market for new offers and packages and allow telcos and partners to acquire new customers and add new revenue streams.

Are you ready for a converged partner management solution to succeed in the new age digital ecosystem?

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Leveraging partnerships to succeed in the digital ecosystem

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has dynamically altered the global communications landscape, creating both challenges and opportunities for communication service providers (CSPs). Consumers have become increasingly demanding with respect to consistent experiences across multiple devices, and CSPs are gradually transforming into providers of advanced digital services such as bundled broadband, mobile apps, and interactive customer-centric content. This transformation into a digital service provider (DSP) is not easy and CSPs are fraught with multiple process and software challenges during this shift.

Moving from Interconnect Partnerships to Strategic Partner Management

In an intensely competitive market, CSPs face immense pressure from over the top (OTT) content providers such as Google and Facebook who have direct consumer outreach. Provision of more customized, automation enabled services through large partner ecosystems is the norm. The increasing complexity of emerging markets coupled with initiatives such as smart cities will open big digit growth opportunities capable of being handled only by huge curated partner collaborations.

Earlier, telecom operators entered into interconnect partnerships with other telecom operators mostly to leverage mutual networks for voice and messaging services. However, the proliferation of smartphones and high-speed internet services has led to a burgeoning increase in the number of partners providing a diverse range of services, leading to a shift from conventional interconnect systems to complex partner management relationships.

The Partner Management Market Is on an Upward Swing

And rightly so, considering there are about 23 vendors offering a certain level of partner management functionality globally. According to analysts, the partner relationship management market (including software and services) is estimated to stand at US$ 850 Million today and is projected to increase to about US$ 1.65 Billion by 2023[1]. The entire ecosystem is expected to undergo certain strategic functional shifts, industry and geography notwithstanding. The coming years will witness new buyer personas across diverse channel types – and channel sales and marketing professionals will realize the importance of third-party influencers in reaching new buyers. The thrust will be on providers of partner management solutions to function as trusted partners – helping widen a brand’s outreach and influence the success journey in unimaginable ways.

The need for Converged Partner Management

The telecommunications wholesale market is growing rapidly with fierce competition and dwindling profit margins. Given the enormity of transactions and immense complexities surrounding a multi-party ecosystem, it is necessary to adopt effective partner management solution to ensure better service quality levels.

[1] https://go.forrester.com/blogs/partner-relationship-management-prm-comes-of-age/

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Top 5 reasons why telecom operators should explore innovative partner contracts

The telecommunications industry has been evolving over the years in this digital economy through technological innovations. The shift between the generation of networks is progressing swiftly, and that sees an impact in business use cases and the BSS/OSS systems that are part of this ecosystem. While there is a huge buzz about 5G today, the 4G rollout is still in progress in certain regions. 5G has opened a host of new business opportunities with augmented reality, self-driven cars, transforming healthcare and more. With this unprecedented pace and agility in the business, partnerships play a very significant role for Communication Service Providers (CSPs), and they need to be well equipped to manage complex wholesale contracts to succeed.

Here are the 5 drivers for CSPs to sign contracts with innovative economic pricing models:

  • 1. Changing Ecosystem of the Telecommunications Industry

The telecommunications industry is experiencing a radical shift in the current scenario with multiple partners in the digital ecosystem. A CSP is no longer isolated in the market, but an integral part of a vital ecosystem. They are collaborating with different vendors and partners to provide differential products, innovative content for new age digital services like on-demand audio and video streaming. All of this puts the CSPs at the crux of all the action. With robust infrastructure and ability to process data in huge volumes, this is a unique position that can be leveraged in this changing scenario.

  • 2. New League of Customers and Partners

The changing dynamics in the industry has given rise to a new league of customers who are aggressive and precision-driven. There needs to be transparency in every aspect of the business. Contract timelines are getting shorter and demanding, while CSPs’ business models have not adapted to meet these demands.

Partnerships are very varied, as the demand for better and more innovative content keeps growing, and this could range from a channel, a gaming company to an individual content creator. Strategic partnerships are key, and transparency is essential here as well. With non-traditional partners for these newer types on content, the business model needs to be adaptive and responsive.

  • 3. Embracing Digitalization

Gone are those days when CSPs focus on merely exchanging rate cards among partners to bill the usage of services. Pricing has become increasingly competitive. Margins are shrinking faster than new business CAGR can grow. Realizing returns is taking a longer time than usual. So, how is the market reacting? Well, the reaction has been to explore unconventional contracts that are driven by data volumes. The complexity of rating has increased in digital contracts with tier/ slab ratings, exclusions/discounts, and commitments.

  • 4. Content is the King

Bill Gates wasn’t wrong in the late 90s when he wrote a paper predicting how real money will be made by sharing content online. Last decade has seen massive foray by CSPs into the content space under the pretext of diversification. Few years back, NBC Universal (acquired by Comcast) and Time Warner Cable (acquired by AT&T) were seen more as a change for the video market than for telecommunication. But with new digital technology to distribute content, and not just traditional media channels, CSPs have gained prominence there. CSPs are partnering with the OTT players to provide exclusive content and niche audience services in the form of premium bundles. Operator-led OTT subscriptions have become the new business model driving the revenues through targeted customer segments.

  • 5. Rise of Edge Computing

With billions of IoT devices expected to be in use globally in the coming years, Edge computing will play a critical role in taking the advantage of high-speed data connectivity. Partnerships will become vital with increased collaboration of vendors in the areas of edge devices like sensors, storage, compute & power, etc. CSPs will become the backbone of this network by providing the required connectivity to all partners involved in the ecosystem.

The last 5 years have been crucial for CSPs in transforming into digital service providers, and this has opened a whole lot of new business opportunities and challenges. Digital transformation had been the buzz word in the industry for almost a decade. In hindsight, it is just an enabler and real transition happens only when organizations embrace & evolve with it.

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Debolina Ray

Debolina is a seasoned professional who specializes in Telecom Partner Settlement, Route Optimization, Interconnect Billing and Order Management/Provisioning. She has over 10 years of experience in the Telecom industry and has a vast exposure to customers from all regions. Debolina currently works as a Technical Product Manager where she manages the product management for the Cost Analytics Portfolio of Subex. She is an active contributor on various forums like Actuate, QlikTech, and is also a voracious reader and an active blogger.

Managing Complex Partner Agreements in the Digital Era

Digitalization has opened a plethora of opportunities for Communication Service Providers (CSP) across the globe to transform their traditional service offerings, moving from telephony into content-driven businesses and reaching the status of Digital Service Providers (DSP). There is a paradigm shift in the telecommunications ecosystem with the entry of technological disruptors (like OTT players) resulting in a portfolio of services with competitive pricing models. The depletion of voice revenues and the rise of data services has changed the dynamics of business partnerships.

The traditional telecom service provider is no longer isolated in the market and has multiple collaborations for audio, video, content, analytics, cloud, etc. Furthermore, due to shrinking margins, operators are looking forward to having contracts/agreements with their vendors and partners, which will create a win-win situation for the parties involved. According to a recent survey by TM Forum, DSPs have a revenue opportunity of around $142 billion from digital services. Whether it is AT&T acquiring Time Warner for $85.4 billion or Reliance Jio integrating with Saavn to create JioSaavn app, telcos are looking to roll out exclusive content to their end customers. Considering that there is much to gain, a DSP without a strong content offering in today’s scenario is almost unimaginable.

A DSP often has hundreds of content provider contracts (mostly with aggregators) to manage, and there is a huge diversity of partners ranging from a garage developer to the likes of Google.

Building success factors:

The phenomenal surge in data consumption by subscribers and free content is driving the majority of telcos’ core businesses today. In addition to this, few telcos are partnering with OTT players to provide exclusive content and niche services in the form of premium bundles. Operator-led OTT subscriptions have become the new business model driving revenues and customer segments.
Building Success Factors
Source: IHS Markit

Driving new business models – The increasing level of complexity

Initially, rate cards were exchanged between partners for billing the usage of services. Later they entered into bilateral agreements to settle the revenues between them. Now, telcos are moving to digital contracts by partnering with content providers and other OTT players. These digital contracts involve tier/slab ratings, along with exclusions/discounts. Commitments and rating based on specific parameters have increased the level of complexity with respect to rating and charging their partners.

Let us go through 3 types of agreements that are executed between partners these days:

There are several agreement scenarios (deals) between the operator and content partner based on different business models. Furthermore, revenue sharing models have been evolving from fixed % based to a tier/slab-based approach across product scenarios.

1. An agreement based on new subscriptions

No of New Subscriptions    Revenue Share

0 – 500                                           P %

501 – 2000                                     Q %

2001 and above                              Q % and additional T % for no of subs >2000

As per the partner agreement, if new subscriptions are negative for a particular month, no pay-out will be made to the partner for that month.

2. An agreement based on promotions

Revenue sharing between the parties will be on a monthly basis. The promotion period can be for a few months or it can be ongoing. If the user subscribes to the content for

Months                  Revenue Share

1 month                         P %

2 months                       Q %

3 months and above      R %

3. An agreement based on market penetration

In this scenario, the operator is liable to share the revenue based on the penetration of subscribers in an area. The complexity involved here is that the penetration level of each market is different from the other. In addition to this, there are certain areas where the radius is defined with respect to a landmark. Subscribers within the radius will be charged a premium and accordingly the revenue share.

In today’s competitive market scenario, partnerships have become the need of the hour for telecom operators and they are moving ahead by signing innovative and complex contracts. The above mentioned examples of digital contracts/agreements are a few models that we have recently dealt with. In the future, we will see many such models with increased complexity and innovative digital contract definitions.

If you are interested in knowing more about managing complex wholesale contracts

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Have you negotiated or signed any complex contract recently? Let us know in the comments section below. Looking for partner who can help you handle complex contact? Talk to us.

Are You Ready to Unravel the Digital Billing Maze?

Ever guessed who will be your next partner in wholesale, digital or OTT? Seeing the pace at which partnerships are burgeoning across the length and breadth of the industry, it seems you won’t get an easy answer to this question. In this rat race, growing partners is the need of the hour, and that too across categories of entertainment, security, gaming and more; there won’t be much time to analyze the partner’s background or work on the business logic. But you are confident that your digital journey is on track, with newer business and revenue opportunities.… Hurray!

Now, things turn upside down when you realize after a few days that there’s a difficulty with managing the partner account, faulty content delivered to subscribers, disputes arising from agreements, or you find out that there’s a serious problem in the way business terms are being executed. Why do these happen?

Well, the issue could be arising from a lack of preparation and foresight; no one is to be blamed either, the rapidly evolving business landscape throws a curve ball. With several thousands of digital companies forming a complex maze of partnerships, challenges are certain. These challenges could arise from all quarters, not from your partners alone, but your customers or external sources as well.

Let’s look at some of the typical challenges you may confront in your engagements with new types of partners:

  • There is a content provider and a partner who deals with a variety of content types including OTT video and mobile apps, but you find it difficult to integrate all types of services on one platform.
  • The content offered by your partner is incomplete or corrupt, and the charges need to be reversed to a customer. How will you settle the deal in this context?
  • A customer engages in fraudulent activities; for example, after downloading the content, he/she defaults the payment arguing that the content is of poor quality.
  • Partner settlement becomes difficult as your partner engages in unethical practices like using a fraudulent platform for tracking the number of downloads or the impressions.
  • A phishing fraud affects your customers, forcing you to compensate massively.
  • An inadvertent regulatory violation from your end leads to a serious legal complications, leading to financial loss and damage to reputation.

And the list goes on…

Where does the problem lie? Who is to be held responsible? How to overcome these challenges?

The underlying problem with most Telcos pursuing digital opportunities is sometimes the lack of preparation both in terms of technology, infrastructure and awareness. With constant changes to the digital landscape, regulatory pressure and escalating CAPEX, anticipating everything that could go wrong is a downward spiral. An upgrade to your Business and Operations Support System (BSS/OSS) could be a solution, but how far and to what extent the upgrade should go? Most Telcos have already initiated the BSS/OSS transformation, but has not yet achieved the level of digital maturity which they are supposed to. Why so?

Well, the scenarios discussed above indicate that the technology infrastructure you are building to protect your digital business should be capable of addressing not only the current challenges but also the future events that are likely arise. In other words, it should be capable of predicting the future scenarios to an extent and address the problematic ones before they impact the system. And be future compatible so that it can adapt quickly.

Broadly speaking, an encompassing OSS/BSS strategy that addresses different aspects like revenue management, billing & partner management and customer experience in a proactive manner is the need of the hour.

Stay tuned to understand how Subex can help you build a digital billing strategy that helps you rise to the status of a successful Level 4 digital service provider (DSP).  If you want to know how Subex’s solutions can help you build a digital ecosystem that boosts your revenue streams and enhances customer value, contact us.

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