China Telecom BSS 3.0
China Telecom’s BSS 3.0 turbo-charges agility, reducing time to market from months to days
Who: China Telecom & Whale Cloud
What: Needed to update legacy BSS systems to support digital ecosystems, rapid partnering and exponential growth in customers and traffic
How: Deployed a BSS 3.0 platform in six months with a cloud-native distributed architecture using TM Forum’s Open Digital Framework, including the Open Digital Architecture, information and business process frameworks and Open APIs
Mobile data traffic in China is forecast to reach 29 exabytes (EB) per month by 2024, a CAGR of 22% and up from 2.7 EB per month in 2017 and just 0.5 EB 2015.
To meet such growth and the increasing demands of its 600 million subscribers, as well as attract new ones, China Telecom, one of China’s ‘big three’ telecommunications providers, wants to be a leader in internet speeds, innovation and customer experience. To achieve this, the company realized it must transform its IT architecture to enable the required business and IT agility.
China Telecom’s legacy BSS system, including 31 subsidiaries and several siloed data models, created significant complexity, limiting agility and marketing capabilities. To address this, the operator embarked on a ‘BSS 3.0’ transformation program.
BSS 1.0, which emerged around 1997, was based on single services, simple subscriptions and billing, and relatively small customer and traffic volumes. BSS 2.0 evolved for the traditional Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solution era, based on convergent and more complex services and faster customer and traffic growth. China Telecom’s vision for BSS 3.0 was a system that supports digital ecosystems, rapid partnering and exponential growth.
Zhengcang Xiao, CTO, Whale Cloud International, which is China Telecom’s technology partner for the BSS 3.0 initiative, explained that in practice this means: “Adopting a ‘platform and application’ model, with cloud-native distributed architecture to realize the separation of back-end data and front-end applications, the decoupling of reusable capabilities and configurable user interfaces, with elastic scalability.”
As well as driving internal improvements, by opening up China Telecom’s capabilities for third parties to consume and use, the BSS 3.0 platform aims to serve as an ‘incubator’ where developers can create innovative applications for telecom customers, as well as consumers and enterprises, generating new value for all stakeholders.
The unified platform, which China Telecom has developed and deployed with Whale Cloud, supports continuous integration and development processes. It aggregates the capabilities from information technology, decision technology and critical technology systems and brings together 31 China Telecom subsidiaries.
A key priority and challenge for the BSS 3.0 initiative was to unify data models, i.e. the concept model, logical model and master data levels, etc. The platform aligns all China Telecom systems and subsidiaries with a group-defined data model and specification framework, assuring maximum system agility and extensibility to support products from telecom and non-telecom sectors.
Interfaces also needed to be unified. Previously, each China Telecom subsidiary had hundreds of applications integrated with multiple interfaces, data formats and services. This required significant manual effort each time new applications were added. Through the BSS 3.0 platform, middleware supports standardized interfaces through Open APIs, meaning zero integration work is required to connect with external applications.
The foundations for the BSS 3.0 transformation were based on TM Forum’s Open Digital Framework, including the Business Process Framework (also called eTOM), the Information Framework (also called SID), the Open Digital Architecture and 32 standardized REST-based Open APIs.
“TM Forum’s standards and best practices helped China Telecom avoid a variety of issues and reduced the potential delivery risks,” said Jie Feng, Former CIO, China Telecom.
Further, the standardized approach meant the BSS 3.0 system could go live in just six months and China Telecom is already seeing the benefits:
“The cloud-native architecture improves business and IT agility to support extra-high traffic and performance requirements, and a rapid response to market demands,” said Feng.
“After gradually implementing the BSS 3.0 system, the time required for product launch has been reduced significantly, which greatly improved our capability to quickly respond to the market. We also further reduced the time required for billing, leading to a continual enhancement of customer experience,” Feng said.
He added that the BSS 3.0 program has facilitated “more precise human resource allocations among frontline staff” and “provided support for the dynamic capacity expansion of the 4G network as well as the planning for future network construction.”
This article is originally published on TM Forum website: https://inform.tmforum.org/casestudy/china-telecoms-bss-3-0-turbo-charges-agility-reducing-time-to-market-from-months-to-days/