Eight months after acquiring operations support system (OSS) specialist Comptel for $370 million in cash, Nokia is debuting a new charging software suite intended to help operators provide real-time charging and policy control. Plus, the company is touting the fact that the software is cloud-native and 5G-ready.
According to Steffen Paulus, director of back office systems (BSS) product marketing at Nokia, the software will reside between the network and the BSS and use a microservices-based architecture that is completely stateless. “We didn’t just adapt the existing platform, we built it from scratch for service providers,” Paulus said, noting that the software can work in the private cloud and also in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment.
Although Paulus wouldn’t name the service provider, he said that Nokia worked closely with a Tier 1 operator in North America to make sure the company’s new Smart Plan Suite software could handle potential new use cases, as well as different types of subscribers across different functions. “Our rules technology is based upon 150 different patents,” Paulus said. “The rules engine combines flexibility but is also scalable.”
Incorporating DevOps Principles
Traditionally, charging and policy control software is updated about two times per year and service providers test new releases for quite some time before rolling it out across their network. This can lead to longer upgrade cycles and slower roll out of new services.
One thing that Nokia did differently when developing this software is to embrace a DevOps model. Paulus said that means customers can test the software quickly, deploy it in the network, and roll out new upgrades and features as they become available instead of waiting for a major new software update.
John Abraham, senior analyst at Analysys Mason, believes this new approach will help service providers respond more quickly to competition. “Service providers need a new approach if they are to deliver the personalized, contextualized, and immediate experiences consumers have become accustomed to from leading webscale companies,” he said.
Supports Network Slicing
That scalability and flexibility will be particularly important for 5G networks. Poulus said the software will be able to support things like 5G network slicing without requiring a lot of additional processing power.
Plus the software will provide detailed real-time analytics on users and operator services. The analytics engine is something that Nokia inherited as part of its Comptel acquisition. It incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict what offers will resonate with certain customers. “This will help operators have better campaigns and customer outreach,” Paulus said, noting that operators have seen average revenue per user increase 8 percent based upon their ability to deliver more personalized offers.