Next Generation IN and TAS
For the last 15-20 years, Network Applications have been provided by Intelligent Network Service Control Points (IN SCPs). The main services provided by these IN platforms are number translation services, virtual-private networks and crucially for mobile telephony, pre-paid capabilities. Beyond the “big three” services, IN platforms today implement a wide range of useful network services that we use every day – such as short-code dialling, multiple call leg handling, call screening, caller ID etc.
But SCPs were not originally designed:
- For a multi-service, multi-network telecoms world, or
- To be used to compete in a fast-changing, internet-style market, or
- To facilitate open development by third parties,
- To provide a platform for service innovation.
Traditional SCPs, commonly referred to as the Intelligent Network (IN) platform, are high cost, vertically integrated systems. They are simple, static ‘one size fits all’ solutions which were not built to meet the dynamic nature of today’s market.
Although they provide a very robust and reliable platform, today’s closed and proprietary SCPs stifle service innovation. New services have to be produced by the SCP vendor. Consequently, there is a small pool of talent available to conceive of and implement new services. Consequently, innovations in network application developments are slow, have high costs and invariably, long lead times.
Today’s competitive telecom market requires network-side technology that is designed to support multiple legacy circuit-switched and IP-based packet-switched networks. Technology that can incorporate new protocols and technologies as they emerge – for example, as WebRTC develops and encroaches on the telecom domain, it can be added the pallet telecom providers have for the delivery of services to their customers. The days of wholesale network technology refreshes to keep pace are over.
Secondly, as telecom operators strive to “up their game” to compete with OTT service providers as well as with each other, they will require a different service delivery model than the closed, proprietary model long-favoured by the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers. The OTT providers all have their own teams and technology – if they conceive of a new capability – they are able implement it and give it a try. Within weeks, not months or years. By adopting open standards and open technology, telecom operators are able to enlarge the gene pool of application innovators as has occurred in other industries. A large, independent community of application developers delivers innovation in services and competitive supply of products and services – so reducing operator’s costs and timescales.
An open next generation IN/ real-time Application Server technology and business model is needed to avoid implementing a brand new but equally restrictive and costly service layer as the IN SCP it replaces.