|Next generation network management
Nedzad Residbegovic is the General Manager BH Telecom; BH operates fixed, GSM and ISP licences in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He served previously as the Executive Manager of BH’s mobile network operation. Prior to BH Telecom he was an Expert for relations with the Communication Regulatory Agency and the International Organization for Standardisation, and worked with the Council of Ministries of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding strategies for the informatization of the country. He had worked earlier as Acting General Manager of the Public Enterprise PTT Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr Residbegovic holds a Bachelor Degree of Electrical Engineering from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has a Diploma – Master of Science of Electrical Engineering from the Electrical and Computing Faculty, University of Zagreb, Croatia.
Telecom operators are facing the challenge of re-engineering the structure of their own systems. This is a concern for all operators. Nevertheless, middle-sized and smaller operators will face greater challenges, in part because of the complexity of problems they are facing to integrate both fixed and mobile networks and because they have less cash and fewer internal resources to manage the transition. IP networks simplify both the network and the systems needed to manage a flexible, cost efficient converged operation.
Globalization creates competition among companies around the world and forces them to unite and centralise their service, market and development functions. Liberalization of telecommunication markets has introduced competition among network and cable operators and Internet service providers. Dominant operators must adapt to this new situation to compete effectively. Limitation of existing systems Separate provisioning, billing and administrative systems usually serve a telecom company’s fixed, mobile and broadband customers. Mobile networks’ prepaid and post-paid systems are also separated. This creates a number of problems: Strategic • All services are not available to all customers; • Customer information is found in separate systems; • Marketing, cross-selling and up-selling between services is limited; • Customer churn is more difficult to control; and • Introduction of new services is hampered. Technical Each service has: • Separate infrastructure; • Separate customer databases; • Separate products; • Different data processing centres; and • Different interfaces for new network elements. Financial • High maintenance costs for separate systems; • High cost of new service introduction; and • Income lost by marketing and sales limitations. Service • Unequal customer support levels; • Separate accounting for each service; and • Limited ability to offer a full range of services and plans to all customers. Change The competition driven by market liberalization and globalization and fostered by regulatory agencies makes constant change necessary. This is reflected in the enormous increase of transmission capability brought about by broadband services, numerous new and expanded services and new transmission, core, billing and access technologies. Telecommunication service profitability depends directly on the rapid introduction of new services that meet customer needs. Rapid implementation and simple service provisioning are crucial success factors. Convergence Convergence brings new network architectures that simplify the satisfaction of customer needs by using a common architecture for all. Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) affects all aspects of the operator’s business. The new architectures divide the network into layers with clear borders and divides the infrastructure into access, control and service layers. IMS evolution Provisioning of Internet access for new data services forced operators to develop the service network. Service networks are joint information and telecom systems, with classical TDM (time division multiplex) system features on one side, and an IP-based application platform on the other. This new architecture requires new transformation in all aspects. IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) solutions for mobile network are standardized based on 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) and ETSI-TISPAN architectures. ETSI TISPAN is the European standardization body for fixed network Next Generation Networks (NGN) specifications. This standardisation guarantees interoperability between new services technologies as a way to implement open architectures, interfaces and protocols. SOA – Service Oriented Architecture – provides the basis for the service network. Convergence of fixed and mobile access brings the telecom, IT and IP worlds closer. Neutral access methods make the successful convergence of both new and old applications possible. IMS and service convergence 3GPP standardises telephone services so operators can easily meet market needs. IMS Multimedia Telephony (mmTel) works end-to-end within the network; it enables sophisticated multimedia services and content over broadband access networks by using IP technology. 3GPP makes it possible to integrate voice services in IMS architectures It is necessary to define telephony service details in the IMS environment, especially as new access methods such as WiFi appear, and to define standard 3GPP solutions. Current solutions include complete IP Centrex functionality for business markets. The combination of content and communication services defines many new services; IMS offers a common transport and control layer, regardless of the access method. Next generation networks – NGN Applications are becoming more demanding; they require robust broadband access. Broadband not only provides better customer services, it also decreases network costs and makes possible increased service offerings. NGN is the result of growing needs for broadband services based on IP technology. Whether it is a 3G/UMTS or xDSL network, it has an IP backbone infrastructure. IP appears in the access, core and transport networks, signalling and in the service plane. A new mobile core network proposal is known as distributed MSC architecture. A layered architecture for channel switching, Mobile Softswitch (MSS) architecture, features the separation of switching and management functionality of MSC nodes into two physical units – an MSC server as a managing element and MGw (Media Gateway) as a switching element. NGNs are structured like this, together with an IP/MPLS (Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching) platform will enable relatively simple migration to IMS networks. TDM/ATM/Ethernet/ IP-MPLS Broadband services call for changes in fixed and mobile network infrastructures, and the deployment of new technologies such as WCDMA, xDSL, ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and IP. Network convergence based on IP-MPLS unified the underlying technologies and enabled the management of end-to-end services through multiservice networks. Utilization of IP as a transport protocol in radio access networks is the first step in implementing end-to-end IP networks with UTRAN (UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network) architecture using existing point-to-point TDM or ATM links. Transmission technologies such as IP over Ethernet enable more scalable and cost-effective solutions than using TDM/ATM technology. Figure 3 shows the evolution of transport network and the changing access technologies. Deployment of IP/MPLS network via carrier Ethernet satisfies UTRAN transport capacities requirements. All-IP networks are synonymous with 4G networks. Implementing NGN architectures Charging NGNs bring an alternative approach to organizing telecom systems using a horizontally integrated architecture. Charging/billing systems are basic to the operator’s service network and are generally the first to be subject to convergent transformation. This requires a convergent charging node in the network. Such charging systems can serve all of a converged network’s operations and it will enable united central account, real-time charging and dynamic choice of tariff model. OSS, BSS Integration Business support systems (BSS) traditionally consist of two independent and loosely connected blocks OSS (operational support systems) and BSS systems. The separation of the systems limited the ability to coordinate certain service management information, requiring separate manual or software solutions to connect the two domains. This made it difficult to rapidly implement and manage new services and new technologies to satisfy customer’s needs or to increase operational efficiency. Operational efficiency can be measured by the operator’s ability to rapidly offer customers high-quality services using minimal resources. A number of industry organizations are systematising processes and their functions including the ITU with its TMN (Telecommunications Network Management) hierarchy standards and the TM Forum’s eTOM and NGOSS as a basis for business processes. Although there is no easy path, these are good starts in the right direction. An IP environment facilitates enriched business support for three significant areas: • Self-service – This lets customers interact directly with telecommunication systems without a mediator, thanks to Web services; “software systems designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine operation over a network”; • Automation of control processes for SLA fulfilment – Service differentiation based upon a class of service defined in a SLA (service level agreement) is facilitated by IP, as it enables the exchange of information between systems elements and applications, so that the allocation of priorities in service transport can be automated. SLA performance can be improved by real-time process automation; and • Intelligence distribution – The intelligence to manage sessions and to communicate between applications in IP-based systems can be transferred to network end points or even terminal devices. This distributes OSS functions to network elements, facilitating the deployment of SOI (Service Oriented Integration) and provides another good reason for total OSS/BSS integration. Telecommunication service providers will have to change significantly to keep up with the increasing number and complexity of telecommunication services on one side, and the constant expansion of IP infrastructure on the other. Small telecom operators, because of system complexity, centralization and interconnections will find it impossible to improve their business operations without adopting an IP model. With fixed-mobile convergence and service convergence, management systems will become much more complex, but the tools needed to consolidate the required management systems on a company-wide basis can leverage the facilities available in the IP ecosystem.