Cost-cutting As primary Driver For NFV Deployment Is Fundamentally Wrong : OpenWave Mobility

OpenWave Mobility is a leader in mobile data traffic management and develops solutions based on NFV to help operators manage their networks, minimise RAN congestion and create new revenue opportunities. The company recently brought out their forecasts for the mobile operators of the next generation. The forecasts are based on two major pieces of analysis – the mobile video index (MVI) based on live data gathered from over 30 global mobile operators and the NFV Playbook, based on NFV trials and deployments with insight from leading industry analysts.

In an Email conversation TeleAnalysis caught up with two key executives at OpenWave Mobility – Indranil Chatterjee, Senior Vice President and Kishor Panpaliya, Vice President – to understand the challenges faced by global operators and the opportunities lies before them, in times to come.

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Indranil Chatterjee-Sr. Vice President, OpenWave Mobility

Q. Openwave Mobility has deployed all-IP traffic solutions with over 40 of the world’s largest service providers. How do you plan to engage Indian telcos?

Indranil Chatterjee : Mobile data worldwide is growing at a rapid pace and India is at the forefront of it. India leapfrogged from 150th position to 1st position in terms of mobile data consumption, thanks to predatory pricing from a new entrant. Over the past 20 years, Openwave Mobility conducted R&D on how to help mobile operators cost effectively manage and monetize the mobile data traffic, In the past 3 years we innovated on building heuristics to intelligently manage secure data traffic, particularly video which represents a whopping 60% of total data traffic worldwide.

As one can see from the recent developments in the Indian telecom environment, telcos are facing unprecedented demand for mobile data, without much increase in price points of the data plans. With stiff competition from a new entrant, this puts pressure on them to retain customers while maintaining QoE and profitability. Owing to our global footprint, we have the required expertise and solutions to help Indian telecom operators manage such scenarios while deferring costly infrastructure investments.

We have already deployed our Video Traffic Management & TCP Acceleration solution at a Tier-1 operator in India and they have experienced the benefits. We have also started engaging other Indian telcos by executing successful large scale trials. We perceive a great potential in the Indian telecom market for our solutions as we bring the timely value proposition of helping them manage the exponential rise of mobile data traffic. We are the market leaders in our domain with more than 40+ Tier 1 Mobile Operators worldwide and we look forward to bringing that expertise to India.

Q. Please share highlights on how mobile operators can utilize SDN/NFV on their network?

Indranil Chatterjee: For some operators, the key driver is to enable network slicing for the transition to 5G. However, there are several ways that SDN/NFV can have even greater impact by improving quality of service (QoS), service agility and revenue generation, as well as helping to reduce subscriber churn. For example, video QoS is becoming the primary measurement that subscribers use to discern network quality. Today at least 76% of network traffic is video and that percentage is increasing daily; moreover, 80% of that video traffic is encrypted, complicating the task of ensuring subscriber quality of experience (QoE).

In fact, according to recent surveys, subscribers say they would consider abandoning their network provider if a video buffers for 6 seconds. By deploying Virtual Network Function (VNF) components that offer the agility to distinguish flows, monitor real time QoE, and optimize the use of RAN resources, operators can realize significant network traffic optimization. One example is that of a Middle Eastern operator who was able to deliver 30% more DVD quality mobile videos to subscribers, reduced video stall times by 75 – and saved 30% on bandwidth.

Q. Despite volumes of talk on deploying SDN/NFV by mobile operators, there seems to be some sort of disconnect between the objective of NFV and the expected outcome. What do you thing is going wrong in telco’s strategies?

Indranil Chatterjee: There is a general assumption that the primary impetus for deploying NFV is cost-cutting. The basic thinking can be summarized as “We’ll implement NFV across the entire network, and then we’ll save hardware costs”. This linear approach creates a huge array of complex, interconnected problems, which slows down the process.

To make changes to network elements, infrastructure and processes simultaneously leaves too great a potential for failure. For an industry traditionally based on reliability, resilience and high availability, the risks of this approach are too high.

A number of operators, however, have already seen positive results. They have focused on virtualization at the core while adding a small number of agility-increasing or revenue-generating services through VNFs. In this way, operators can build out small instances of NFV that will improve agility or deliver new revenues.

Q. Openwave Mobility predicts, by 2018 HD video would account for half of all video content. Who’s gaining from this and who are the losers?

Indranil Chatterjee: As the percentage of HD mobile video traffic continues to climb, mobile operators need to allocate 3-4 times more bandwidth than what standard video would require. As a result, operators are struggling to cope as some networks are stretched to the breaking point. With mobile data revenues under attack from OTT players, it’s the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook that currently stand to gain the most. Considering that subscribers now say mobile video quality is more important than voice calls, operators also could face increasing churn if they cannot maintain mobile QoE and take control of their networks and subscribers.

Richer content, huge demand for streaming video and more powerful mobile devices are putting unprecedented strain on mobile networks.

Q. How does Openwave Mobility help mobile operators optimize both cost and quality?

Indranil Chatterjee: As mobile data traffic continues to soar, particularly video content, operators need help to manage these high volumes effectively, particularly given that so much of it is encrypted. Openwave Mobility offers this help with a Video Traffic Management solution that is a Virtual Network Function (VNF). It combines mobile video management with secure traffic handling capabilities to deliver a virtualized solution for all video management and QoE functionalities required on a mobile network. This solution allows operators to transparently manage next-generation IP traffic streams to handle both encrypted and unencrypted traffic flows and orchestrate value added services. Openwave Mobility’s Video Traffic Management helps operators ensure the most efficient use of RAN and network resources, maximizing network capacity while maintaining subscriber QoE.

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Kishor Panpaliya-VP of Americas and APAC

Q. You predicted, in 2018, 90% of internet traffic would go dark for operators. What are the proactive measures, you suggest, telcos should take to cope up with this?

Kishor Panpaliya: Encryption protocols from Google, Facebook and others continue to darken mobile networks for mobile operators. Yet, at any given point, operators need to ascertain quickly if the content on their networks is from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube or any other source to manage QoE. Operators need to know: the definition of the video. Is it a live stream or download? What codec is being used to deliver the video and to what device? Operators can’t manage what they can’t see. They need much more than conventional traffic management technology to gather data and make informed decisions.

To gain insight with analytics, operators need to abandon the old appliance-based Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) approach and adopt pure software solutions, like Openwave Mobility’s Video Traffic Management solution. Our solutions are designed to be software-based, agile and virtualized so they can be easily deployed in the cloud, with heuristics for encrypted video. Moreover this technology allows operators to glean data for application-based metering plans or promotional add-on services to secure additional revenue generating opportunities.

Q. Customers, both of content and communications, are getting smarter each passing day and their demands too are growing in terms of QoE. In this pressing time what do you think a smart telco should do?

Kishor Panpaliya: An insatiable appetite for video has raised the bar for subscribers’ overall QoE expectations, putting pressure on mobile operators’ ability to maintain quality of service. However, while it is true that subscribers hold operators responsible for video quality, research shows that subscribers also are willing to pay more for good quality video.

So, the smart operator will deploy solutions that allow them to better manage their network and ensure QoE for video streaming for new revenue generation opportunities. Moreover, solutions like Openwave Mobility’s Mobile Data Monetization offer subscribers the ability to control what they buy, when they buy it and make it simple for them to understand what they are buying.

This provides smart operators innovative new ways to engage with their subscribers and to monetize data, leading to incremental revenues and reduced churn. For example, with this solution operators can introduce new application-based price plans such as “video as a service” and notify users of time critical events and notifications. By empowering today’s smart consumers to make purchasing decisions, this ultimately leads to increased adoption of new services and reduces churn.

Q. What plans does Openwave Mobility have for the India market?

Kishor Panpaliya: We have invested heavily in building a self-sufficient, centre of excellence in Pune, Maharashtra, where we have cross functional expertise including sales, product management, engineering and global customer support teams. As mentioned earlier, we have already deployed our solution at a Tier-1 operator in India. Our plan for the Indian market is two fold – first we want to leverage our huge local presence and global Tier 1 deployment expertise to create a win-win scenario for the Indian telcos through our tested and proven All-IP Traffic Management and Subscriber Data Management solutions.

Secondly, we have mature OEM relationships with major Network Infrastructure Vendors who have significant market share in India and are actively engaged in migrating the packet core domain to NFV. Openwave Mobility solutions have been pre-integrated and certified as VNFs within their NFVI platforms and that offers our Indian operator customers an alternate choice of procuring our solutions. With giants like Google and Facebook putting their focus on the Indian consumers, we foresee a huge shift in encrypted mobile data consumption in the near term. Our plan is to help Indian telecom operators prepare themselves, by managing the growth in encrypted data while maintaining QoE and profitability.

Q. Who are your key customers (worldwide / India) and what are the key products that help telcos deliver outstanding QoE?

Kishor Panpaliya: We are proud to be associated with some of the major Tier-1 telecom operators worldwide and we have recently deployed our solution at a major Tier-1 Indian telecom operator and witnessing impressive results.

We have proven solutions such as Secure Traffic Manager, IP Traffic Manager, DynaMO, DynaBoost, built on our award-winning Integra NFV platform, to manage encrypted and unencrypted web and video QoE. In addition to that, we provide Traffic Analysis dashboards to understand the traffic profile and gain actionable insights for the marketing and operations teams.

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