Case Study: Telenet’s Broadband Service Offering

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Telenet—Belgium’s largest provider of Internet service and CATV—has a portfolio that includes broadband Internet access, cable TV and VoIP. Telenet’s goals were to boost its revenues in spite of flat-rate pricing, yet also to increase customer satisfaction.

To differentiate its services, Telenet enables subscribers to customize their service and adapt it to their needs in real time. It wanted to communicate with users—to constantly monitor how they interact with services, and to dynamically adapt the services to make them more attractive.

The Shopping List

To support the roll-out of its services, Telenet began a search for an OSS/BSS system. Although its requirements were not conceptually difficult, they were substantial:
  1. A rating and provisioning engine capable of:
    • Charging subscribers for next-generation services in real time, both by service type (such as VoIP and surfing) and by volume.
    • Enabling online provisioning of service plan changes resulting from subscriber requests or from reaching thresholds defined by the subscriber or service provider.
    • Enabling subscribers to view their usage patterns online and in real time.
    • Enabling creative packaging of charges for next-generation content and service.
  2. Make the introduction and modification of service plans, promotions and discounts so simple that Telenet could do them itself without vendor help.
  3. Give subscribers control by letting them self-manage their own plans.
  4. Integrate the solution seamlessly with Telenet’s installed Cisco network elements and legacy mediation, billing and customer care components—and have it ready in five months, in time for new product launches.
A market scan conducted by Telenet revealed no operator or service provider that was doing anything comparable to what it wanted. Telenet’s RFP process included 15 vendors. “We met with each one of them, receiving a presentation and examining a demo,” says Remy Knecht, Telenet senior project manager. “As it turned out, finding the solution was harder than we thought. Some vendors had a good rating but no provisioning capabilities, and others had provisioning but their rating was poor.”

Selecting a Vendor

Eventually Telenet narrowed the field to three vendors that demonstrated their solutions through a proof of concept. The challenge was to demonstrate flawless integration with Telenet’s Cisco network elements and to implement a series of product scenarios in which usage information would be transferred between the vendor’s business management solution and Cisco’s SCE Deep-Packet-Inspection solution. For example, a scenario might impose a limit of 100 MB of traffic per day, then throttle subscriber bandwidth to 128 Kbps for the remainder of the day but with very high performance and scalability.

After completing three proofs of concept, Telenet selected Formula Telecom Solutions’ Leap BCE, a business management solution that can capture, analyze and respond to events and transactions in real time. It is based on the FTS Leap Business Control and Charging Foundation (Leap BCCF), which uses a modeling technique that enables decisions and actions that are service-aware and based on value and content. Through standard product APIs, the system integrates with network hardware and other OSS/BSS systems to analyze real-time events and dynamically provision changes to the network or execute actions based on these events. A web-based GUI enables provider personnel to define, deploy and manage new services on their own without the need for new code.

Telenet Goes Live

The Telenet broadband access offering includes a number of services, all characterized by access speed, traffic quota (separate for upload and download), price quota and price per additional megabyte above the quota. Once a quota is reached, subscribers are redirected to a web page offering them three options:
  • Buy additional quota
  • Move to a service plan that charges by the megabyte until the end of the month
  • Have access speed reduced from broadband to narrowband until the end of the month without incurring additional charges (the default option).
Telenet captures the subscriber’s choice and executes the appropriate actions for charging and/or provisioning. The service enables subscribers to view and configure their personal usage using a portal named Telemeter. For example:
  • Subscribers can view “meters” showing their current upstream and downstream volumes.
  • They can set email alerts to let them know when they reach a self-defined threshold—say, 90 percent of the quota for downstream volume.
  • The can view real-time analysis presenting volume usage of different services by protocol (email, p2p, etc.), which eliminates the element of surprise when they reach their volume quota (say, because their children are downloading lots of music and movies).
Injecting Business Sense

The philosophy behind Telenet’s offering is the ability to place a business value, in addition to a monetary value, on every event generated by subscribers or their interactions with services. These events and interactions could be, for example, ordering the “VoD of the month,” initiating a phone call or simply reaching a system threshold. Each event has a business implication. Ordering the “VoD of the month” can mean not just a promotional lower rate (a billing implication) but also that the subscriber has read the Telenet newsletter and positively responded to it (a business implication).

Telenet captures events from its networks and subscribers, and can respond in real time using business policies. The calculated response is an action that best addresses both the company’s own and the customer’s objectives. Appropriate actions might be provisioning, balance management, rating or even sending an SMS about a reward grant. Thus, the solution allows Telenet to be responsive to a subscriber’s needs and can help in reducing churn and increasing ARPU/AMPU.


Telenet’s Architecture
Leap BCE’s chief interfaces are with Telenet’s 18 Cisco service control elements, Cisco SM for customer management, in-house CRM, and self-care platforms and billing. The system was designed to reach net performance levels of more than 2,500 transactions (CDRs) per second. The database is based on Oracle Cluster (RAC) 10g. In order to fulfill Telenet’s requirement for complete redundancy, FTS used separate application servers, each operating at a maximum of 40 percent of CPU load, in the event that one failed. Lastly, Leap BCE integrated with HP’s OpenView to send SNMP traps and to create a general view of all hardware and software.


The table below gives examples of subscriber-generated events and possible corresponding business actions:

Subscriber Event    Business Rule-Driven Action
Purchases “VoD of the month”    Credit the subscriber 100 loyalty points
Initiates interactive “pay per game” session    Increase QoS priority for game traffic only
Accumulates 750 cellular minutes this week    Entitle subscriber to a free VoD. Send SMS alert to notify of the award.
Reaches allowed download quota    Move subscriber from 4 Mbps access speed to 56 Kbps
Ends call or session    Rate the transaction and send rated EDR to the billing system

Conclusion

By upgrading its OSS/BSS infrastructure, Telenet improved upon its legacy flat-rate broadband charging model, and was able to simultaneously improve subscriber satisfaction and increase revenues.

Telenet can monitor subscriber interactions with services and dynamically respond with actions designed to address user and operator objectives. In addition, subscribers can self-manage their own plans through a web-based portal. As a result of Telenet’s upgrades, customer support calls relating to broadband service have been reduced by 40 percent. In addition, 15 percent of customers who reach self-defined quotas have been electing through the web-based portal to pay for additional bandwidth, thus increasing Telenet revenues. While not quantified yet, Telenet is seeing substantial use of the Telemeter portal and is tracking an increase in subscriber satisfaction with its services.

About the Author: Yair Sakov is Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Formula Telecom Solutions. He can be reached at yair.sakov@fts-soft.com.
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