21 July 2022

Operator network services – often overlooked, but still fundamental to businesses globally

Network services for delivering number translation and routing for non-geo, emergency and other core operator functions remain essential. Overlooked, but part of the core package you have to deliver. How do you preserve these, while investing in the rest of your network?

Number translation remains a core operator function

Operator network services include many applications that we take for granted, such as translating non-geographic numbers to real PSTN and PLMN numbers, emergency service call routing, and so on. These services have a long and venerable history. They also generate significant revenue, based on charging relationships that operators have with their customers – such as called party pays, for example.

They are most definitely do not attract the headlines (apart from a brief flurry of interest decades ago when operators used to sell numbers that matched alphabetical identities, or when special numbers with particular codes because popular). But, they remain core to the portfolio of services that operators must offer.

And, they remain popular in almost every country, because operators have long-standing relationships with business customers to maintain. They may not be widely promoted but operators must continue to support them – probably for the next decade or so.

Evolving from legacy, EoL platforms can be a challenge

This may present something of a challenge, as many such services were originally delivered in IN solutions, typically provided by one of the large equipment manufacturers. Today, most have moved away from this domain, preferring to focus on other solutions. It’s not a growth market, after all – and most have also terminated investment in supporting these platforms.

As a result, many operators have to confront the end of life of such platforms and consider how they can maintain these services for the future. The margins may have shrunk, but they do generate consistent, continuous revenue.

All of these services depend on the ability to analyse a given call, determine how it should be routed and then to ensure that it is forwarded with the correct information to the correct destination. To such basic logic must also be added factors such as time of day (to govern office hours), availability, service overload conditions, and so on. There’s a wide range of possibilities, from primary rules to those that are followed when exceptions are met.

There are also SLAs to consider – emergency calls must be handled according to strict rules, with 100% availability, while other services may require less stringent conditions. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on, even for services that are hardly seen as cutting edge and long forgotten by many.

So, flexibility and reliability are key to ensure that the required SLA can be met, while also enabling the relevant rules to be created and triggered when each service is triggered. A further consideration is integration with the network environment.

Most of these services were based on SS7 platforms, which are, of course, largely being retired and replaced. They must be compatible with the current (and future) network architecture and interfaces – a key reason why many have withdrawn their solutions, due to the investment required (from their perspective) to integrate new interfaces and triggering methods.

Does number translation have a future? Yes, to support new triggering and interaction models

The thing is though, that, as we stated, these services will likely be required for many years to come. Indeed, when we consider that new 5G services will perhaps enable new forms of interactions between devices and people – in which a given event may trigger the need to connect with a team of call handlers or first responders, we can see that there may even be new life in such network services in the future, albeit for highly specialised and perhaps mission critical use cases.

So, operators need to know how they can secure what they have, while also enabling any future evolution that may be required. Of course, there are different approaches. One would be to talk with our team. We’ve been delivering advanced call routing and handling solutions for years.

We’ll work out the right approach for you, based on our off-the-shelf components and proven routing solutions – which continue to evolve as we embrace each generation of technology. Network services may not be cool, but there’s a lot of life in them – and you can’t simply opt out. Find the right approach with Gintel.

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