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Service Provider / April 29, 2015

Today you’re a Service Provider, tomorrow an “Un-carrier.”

Empowering innovative new Carrier services with packet level insight & action

Introduction

Very much like the transformation in the airline industry, where new successful formulas had to be found to stay in business: single make & model of airplane, single tool set, single training and single certification – carriers are looking to do the same. With all the technological transformation in our industry it’s easy to see ways where capital expenditure & operational costs can be kept the same, or even reduced by betting on various disruptive Software Defined technologies.

However, the savvy operator is already asking the next set of questions, aimed at deriving greater revenue from their service layer…

  • How can I increase my service attachment rates?
  • How can I bring out new services my existing subscribers will greatly value and actually pay for?
  • How do I attract new subscribers in a cost-cutting environment?
  • How do I improve my operational efficiency?
  • How do I stave off the need to deploy costly security infrastructure?
  • How do I change the demographic of my subscriber base to focus on incremental ARPU?
  • How do I target specific subscribers?
  • How do I target users of specific OTT services?

Becoming an “Un-Carrier”

In this article, we’ll take a look at the above questions and highlight the methods to derive the answers. We’ll discuss what is needed to become an Un-carrier today. And with that said, becoming an Un-carrier doesn’t end with GTP Correlation, but it certainly does begin there – and unfortunately, so do the pitfalls of getting that wrong…

Currently, many analytic tool vendors have a built-in feature to correlate GTP, the user plane (GTP-u) with the control plane (GTP-c) inside GPRS tunnels. But in the process, each analytic tool hides its insight from the other analytic tools in the process – and it’s this subscriber and service layer insight you need to become an Un-carrier, and since this functionality is concealed inside the analytic tool the packet level insight is unavailable to you. As a consequence, the operational efficiency of your business decreases due to the increased cost of reduced analytic tool processing throughput – as each analytic tool correlates GTP separately and individually.

GTP Correlation

With the need to perform the GTP Correlation for all attached analytic tools at the packet layer in the Visibility Fabric™ clearly defined – as opposed to the analytic tools layer, let’s walk through to illustrate the new use cases which will be available to you, and which define the typical Un-carrier…

Use Cases

Use case A: Load balance GTP flows across groups of multiple analytic tools

  • Description: Take advantage of spare capacity in each attached tool by implementing session aware load balancing across a group of tools.
  • Gigamon feature: GTP Load Balancing
  • Un-carrier advantage: Become more operationally efficient by using every last ounce of tool processing throughput – why pay for what you are not using? Do more with less!

Use case B: Match ingress traffic to analytic tool throughput processing capability

  • Description: As adoption of 4G and LTE networks expands and the volume of traffic in the network grows, mobile service providers are grappling with costs and challenges of analyzing increasing amounts of traffic.
  • Gigamon feature: FlowVUE
  • Un-carrier advantage: Preserve existing investment levels in analytic tools; keep capital expenditure on-par with business goals. Scale traffic down to fit your analytic tool processing throughput, whilst taking a representative sample of what’s happening on the network.

Use case C: Attach Value-Added Services to Premier Subscribers

  • Description: As the cost of providing identical service for all subscribers becomes unrealistic, introduce subscriber level service tiers.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: Reduce cost; provide higher service levels to your top tier subscribers. Gain an operational advantage and subscriber stickiness by offering greater service reliability to only those subscribers who are willing to pay for it.

Use case D: Offset operational cost through content or service under-writing

  • Description: Offer subscribers free minutes or data, earned for visiting sponsored links, using sponsored services, or installing sponsored apps.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: With a sponsor paying for minute by minute costs of network operation and up-keep, the carrier can offset their operational costs and introduce experimental, but innovative new services to the subscriber – keeping the services sticky and priming the subscriber base for generation of future revenues.

Use case E: Pin-point troublesome subscribers

  • Description: Where a subscriber has stepped outside the limits of their subscription agreement, perhaps for downloading illegal traffic, too much traffic; or their device and network usage needs to be monitored more closely.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: Remove subscribers which sit outside the profitability characteristics of your network. Reduce or alter how services are offered and the characteristics in which they are offered. Restore the profitability envelope to subscribers who adversely affect the experience of more-highly profitable subscribers.

Use case F: Identify security threats from the individual subscriber or device

  • Description: Focus on specific subscribers or devices that present a security threat to the network. Remove malicious traffic from the network, deny access to the network.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: Security threats for carriers are growing with security infrastructure becoming a new expense area to justify capital investment and operational expense. Since security tools rarely run at line-rate speeds, any capability that reduces the amount of traffic flowing through the tools provides for a smaller and more cost effective security capability – allowing the operator to do more with less. This results in a clear operational advantage both network operational cost-wise and network capacity-wise. Subscriber devices and associated malicious traffic can be blocked from the network altogether.

Use case G: Treat groups of subscribers with different security levels

  • Description: Not all User Equipment (UE) or Application stores have the same built-in security screening capabilities. One vendor and their associated devices and application store may represent a greater security threat than equivalent devices and application stores from other vendors.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: It may make sense to treat devices, applications or subscriber groups with a perceived higher security threat profile differently. This way, traffic can be grouped with low threat traffic being treated differently than high threat traffic. This preserves the processing throughput of security tools, decreasing the cost for processed traffic, which yields a competitive advantage against other competing carriers within a region.

Use case H: Call Centre optimization

  • Description: A reduction in call center traffic results in dynamic reductions in support costs. Enable call center call takers to resolve tickets more efficiently.
  • Gigamon feature: Whitelisting
  • Un-carrier advantage: Methods which reduce call center activity help carriers to improve the profitability of their business; it allows a carrier to do more with less – to be more resource efficient. Metrics link lower call center calls with lower subscriber churn – this provides for greater revenue assurance, lower net-new subscriber acquisition costs, as well as less revenue variability in the overall business.

By implementing these or similar unique use cases your business could experience many of the following:

  • Greater operational efficiency
  • Heightened competitive advantage versus other carriers in your region
  • Faster service proto-typing, operational agility and flexibility
  • Increased service revenues
  • Improved subscriber stickiness
  • Unlock new subscriber services & derived revenues
  • Call center optimization and associated reduced expenditure
  • Reduced churn, easier subscriber acquisition
  • Re-shaped ARPU profile

Conclusions

Gigamon’s new features go far beyond rudimentary GTP correlation. These new capabilities and example use cases enable the carrier of today to become the Un-carrier of tomorrow.

Combined with the pre-existing GTP Correlation capability in the Visibility Fabric, mobile carriers can now create custom whitelists of specific subscribers using their IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), this unique mechanism allows mobile providers to gain per-subscriber visibility using whitelists – which could revolutionize the traditional carrier business model.

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