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More devices, more traffic mean more complexity in managing the network. Amdocs, Sandvine products help carriers with management strategy

The explosion of wireless devices and content – with predictions of 7 trillion devices connected to wireless networks by 2017 – will present increasingly complex challenges for service providers trying to manage their networks. As such, companies involved in the OSS/BSS space are ramping up their products and services to help carriers meeting the demands of tomorrow’s networks.

Amdocs today unveiled its Amdocs CES 8 customer experience software product portfolio that it says will help service providers evolve their technical and business processes. Meanwhile, Sandvine announced a contract with Leap Wireless International Inc. to help the flat-rate carrier better manage a piece of its prepaid mobile broadband business.

About a year ago, Amdocs started working with service providers to try to plot how they were going to interpret what a connected world would mean to them, said Rebecca Prudhomme, director for strategy and market insight for Amdocs. Those discussions led to a Frost & Sullivan survey of senior executives in North America and Europe to see what their greatest needs would be as more devices are connected to the world in an increasingly open environment. One need: flexible business models as more partners play in the wireless space. “About 90% felt it was important to create partnerships, maybe as a wholesaler with Internet companies like Facebook, to expand their business models,” Prudhomme noted. “Service providers recognize they need flexible business models. They have to look at new revenue streams.”

Service providers said network investment and network planning were their No. 1 area of investment. Also, the need for device activation and self-service customer service are priorities. “It gets increasingly complicated with emerging devices because they can’t let the support costs get too high,” she noted.

“In addition to the growing device and network demand, service providers are actively considering better, faster and more productive approaches to succeed in the connected world,” said James Brehm, senior consultant for mobility and the unwired experience at Frost & Sullivan. “Nearly all of the service providers with whom we engaged recognize that they must quickly evolve, and have identified partners that can help them meet new levels of demand.”

Some operators are interested in key vertical markets that are expected to be hotbeds of activity, such as healthcare, consumer electronics and government and utilities.

Amdocs new portfolio helps carriers expose the network IT and data assets to more partners, drive a more personal experience for customers, operate lean and enable new business models. Regarding the customer experience, Prudhomme said end users shouldn’t be overwhelmed by so many application and device options. The customer should be able to find what they want and how they want it without simply, despite all of the complexities involved in that experience. Amdocs bought jNetx, a service delivery platform company, for $50 million net of debt and cash in October to help service providers to expose telecom and IP components in the network to customers.

The Amdocs portfolio also helps with network planning and backhaul optimization, prepaid and other new billing models. It includes a Universal Storefont so customers can manage their products and services (think of a device, plan and accessories package) without having to go through different silos within the service provider’s organization. Amdocs partners with Mformation on device management sevices.

Amdocs isn’t able to formally announce any customers from its CES 8 portfolio, but has announced a contract earlier this month with Brazilian operator Claro Brazil. Claro is deploying Amdocs to support customer ordering, sales force automation, e-commerce and Web self-service.

Cricket deploys Sandvine

As carriers adopt new business strategies, they may need to manage those operations in new ways. For example, Leap’s Cricket Broadband service allows customers to walk into Target to buy a USB modem. Cricket deployed Sandvine’s policy traffic switch platform in the third quarter in a partnership with Openet, which provides the online charging system. Sandvine’s solutions detect network conditions that trigger policies within the network to help service providers enhance subscribers’ Internet experience.

While Cricket is deploying the solution based on time (customers can buy service for 30 days) it also could be implemented based on volume, said Marie Fiala Timlin, AVP, Product and Solutions Marketing at Sandvine. Some of the nation’s top operators have hinted about usage-based pricing for data consumption.

Cricket is Sandvine’s first publicly announced wireless carrier, although the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said one-third of its revenues come from wireless operators.

January 19, 2010

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