How a US '4G' Operator used Cloud Services to get to market in 100 days

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This is a guest post by Shawn Price, President of Zuora, a Telco 2.0 partner and leading cloud billing solutions provider. Shawn is presenting at the New Digital Economics event on 6 April in Palo Alto. In the post he argues that the future of telco billing is in the cloud, and outlines a recent customer case study showing how an innovative US '4G' Operator used cloud services BSS to get to market in 100 days.

The cloud has opened an array of new opportunities in communications, media and cloud services. Digital convergence is here, and now more than ever, the cloud matters for service providers to drive new revenue opportunities.

Changing of the Guard: Carrier Services to Apps and Third Party Services


Telcos / CSPs used to have it good. They used to be the one-stop shop for everything from the telephone to the phone service to add-on services like call waiting. But with the explosion of mobile devices, smart phones and tablets, the era of carrier dominance is over. Think about it. How excited do you get about your home phone service? Or what about your cellular service from AT&T, Verizon, or O2? As carrier services have become a commodity, it's now the apps and third party services delivering voice, data, apps, and video that matter.

If you don't believe in this, just look around you. How many people have an iPhone, iPad, Android or some other device and using it to get the latest news, watch videos, listen to music, play games, and search for the nearest restaurant. According to Cisco's Visual Networking Index, by 2015,there will be 7.2 billion mobile devices and more than 2/3 of network traffic will be consumed by video. Apple has more than 500,000 apps and had more than 10 billion apps downloaded since the launch of the AppStore. As a result, revenue per subscriber for traditional carriers is declining while apps and cloud services like Netflix are growing at a rampant pace.

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As Carriers Look to New Revenue Streams, Old Infrastructure Doesn't Work

So how do carriers stay competitive amid all these new services? Do they acquire companies? Do they partner with cloud providers? Or do they launch their own? Over the past few years, we've seen different examples such as Verizon's acquisition of Terremark to get into cloud services, BT's acquisition of Ribbit to bring together the web and voice technology, or Tata Communications recent acquisition of one of my customers, Bitgravity to get into video. Should AT&T acquire Pandora and its 100M+ subscribers?

Unfortunately, most carriers and service providers are laden with heavy, complex OSS and BSS billing systems that were great for the era of IntraLACT voice dialing (which would charge different tolls for dialing into Manhattan versus Brooklyn), and not today's fast paced environment where hundreds of new services and apps are launched every day.

How Open Range Got to market in 100 Days

Open Range Communications -- a US wireless broadband provider - is an example of how the cloud can be used to get to market in 100 days. Open Range is an exciting company using 4G technology to deliver affordable wireless broadband to un-served and underserved rural American communities, and within the next three years, they will serve 555 communities and make their services available to approximately six million people.

Knowing they didn't want to get in to the billing business and spend a lots of money on a billing system that would be difficult to change, my company, Zuora, gave Open Range a "frictionless 21st century system that was cloud based" with our Zuora for Comms solution. Some of Open Range's requirements included fully automated processes from ordering to cash to system activation to billing, the flexibility to tailor a number of pricing packages and promotions to fit the unique requirements of different communities across 17 states, and the ability to sign customers in real-time via call center, online self-service, and door-to-door sales. Leveraging the Zuora for Comms solution, Open Range was able to get to market in 100 days, and also was able connect to multiple integration points in their IT infrastructure, including:

• ERP and general ledger from SAP
• Salesforce.com customer and partner portal
• Vertex tax solution
• Paymentech credit card processing
• Allianza Telecom digital voice solution
• Open Range customer portal
• Reporting system from Qlickview and Scorecard
• GIS system from Korem
• National device fulfillment system from CTDI
• ISP and customer email solution

Summary: Why the Cloud Matters?

It's clear that the future of the communications is in the cloud. The cloud is how carriers and service providers will source new revenue opportunities. The cloud enables the fastest path to revenue to launch new products and services. The cloud drives innovation to change pricing and launch new packages instantly and not have to wait on back-office systems. The cloud makes it easy to sign up new customers and give customers the self-service experience they want. The cloud ensures that a company never has to go through a $100 million billing project.

We look forward to seeing you in the cloud ...

To learn more, visit us at www.zuora.com/comms