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May 2015

A Global Voice Network on the Fly: Own It & Manage It Virtually with a Cloud BSS/OSS

A Global Voice Network on the Fly: Own It & Manage It Virtually with a Cloud BSS/OSS

What is this vast international communications grid that powers so much of our professional and personal lives?  Well, in one sense it’s the jumble of wires, routers, radio waves, telephone poles, fiber, and clouds.

But once a year at the ITW event in Chicago, the grid comes to life.  It magically takes human form as traders and salespeople from every corner of the globe gather around hundreds of bilateral tables to meet, barter, and sign network deals.

It’s a spectacle to behold.  And yet, there’s another aspect of this grid that’s easily forgotten because it goes beyond the actual building, selling, and interconnecting of networks.  It’s the back office BSS/OSS systems that support the networking business.  Those systems include everything from billing and customer care to network monitoring and asset inventory management.

Now the interesting thing about a good BSS/OSS is that it allows you to virtualize the ownership of networks.  You no longer need to build networks from scratch yourself: you can rent them at a far lower cost.

This powerful idea of virtual network ownership and control is being delivered by Auris, a Miami-based BSS/OSS solutions company working in tandem with its sister company, CIMA Telecom, an international network provider and wholesaler.  Together, Auris and CIMA Telecom deliver a complete voice network business package.

I caught up with Auris at the ITW event and Rene Mendez, Senior Sales Executive at Auris, discussed with me his company’s highly interesting business model.

Dan Baker: Rene, virtual networks are a splendid idea but how well is it actually being accepted in the marketplace?

Rene Mendez: The idea is catching fire, Dan.  Two years ago, people were quite skeptical.  They felt they needed to have their own equipment: they wanted to touch it and have greater control.

But now the cloud has come.  And if you are going to spend $750,000 for the network and your competitor is only spending $3,000 a month, you can‘t compete with that.  You have to give cloud and hosted services a serious look.

I think the trend to outsource billing and operations represents a maturing — and better understanding — of our industry.  I come from telecoms: in a previous life I sold hardware and complete networks, but in a way I’m continuing that mission.  The only difference is the voice network our customers use and all the business systems that surround that network are supplied by Auris.

And the Auris business is nicely complemented by your sister company, CIMA Telecom.

Yes, CIMA Telecom is a global VoIP provider doing 3 billion minutes a year.  CIMA has interconnections with over 300 carriers worldwide, and among those are: AT&T and Verizon in the US; BT, Orange, and Vodafone in Europe; and Tata Communications in Asia.

So as CIMA grows its network and makes the connections, Auris operates CIMA’s network of software, gateways, SBCs, etc. through our Platform as a Service (PaaS) model in the cloud.  Our platforms have various BSS/OSS modules: network monitoring, customized reports, fraud control, billing, transcoding, routing and more.

Billing is quite flexible: it complies with regulatory requirements on how you begin and end a metered call.  It’s easy for our customer to adjust billing to be computed every second, every six seconds, whatever they want.  The Call Detail Records we generate go to either our own billing platform or to our customer’s own billing system.

We can deliver a truly global platform.  A good part of the Auris business is in the Americas.  We also have excellent reach into Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and APAC.

The Auris Virtual Voice Business Platform

International Voice Traffic Trends

Click here to see a larger diagram

What kind of service providers are your customers?  And how do you convince them to outsource through Auris?

Well we now have about 250 customers.  The total traffic we manage and/or bill is 7 billion minutes a year, which includes CIMA Telecom.  We enable VoIP, international calls, and calling cards for them.  In fact, one of the largest MVNOs in the US is a customer of ours.

We also serve cable operators.  We enable them to offer triple play service to boost revenues, which they are under pressure to offer.

Cost is a major factor: they could spend a million dollars just to buy voice switches and other equipment.  The alternative, however, is to have us host the voice service for them in the cloud.  So this is why our cable customers have found our offer attractive.

Nothing is really sacrificed.  The cable operator gets access to its own private network and its own brand: we simply operate it for them.  The advantage is they get to use our built-in bundling and packaging capabilities through the use of our platform.  The package might be: 50 TV channels, broadband, and 500 minutes of free calls a month to the US.

If they decide to build their own voice network on their own, the investment in buying network equipment is not the only expense.  You also need to renew your licenses every year, and they could easily spend $150,000 on maintenance.  But by spending a fraction of that amount per year, they can dramatically cut their cost and responsibility.  And the onus is on Auris to manage all the software releases, certification, fraud management, and other administrative burdens.  Plus there’s a big savings on operations and people expenses.

Not only do the complexities and costs go away, we enable them to launch very quickly.  In two weeks they can be up and running.

How does the platform work?  What does it look like under the covers?

The system’s flexibility is ideal for monitoring the business.  Some carriers even use our cloud platform to run their wholesale business.  Some use our platform just to trade: they’ll buy 5 million minutes from one MNO and sell those minutes to somebody else.

They can operate and monitor their business on a PC, tablet or iPad, and they can constantly dive into their business to see how they look in terms of profitability for the day, quality issues, or traffic volumes.

Making changes is also done on the fly.  For instance, they can go into the Auris platform and create a product, such as a calling card.  Let’s say they have a mobile customer, well you can set up a bundle of 500 minutes in the U.S., 600 minutes to Mexico, or to practically anywhere.  Not only are the products created on the platform, this is also where the inventory of active calling cards or PINs is kept.  We also allow our customers to manage distributors or stores who sell Pinless and Top Up through our Retail Portal.

If a customer calls to complain about poor quality of service, the user can drill down and see the calls made, to where, and what the problems were.

And new capabilities are being added to the platform.  A key one here is the ability to put $10 in somebody’s calling card from practically anywhere.  So from the US, I add funds to somebody’s cell phone in India or Argentina.  The billing platform will also automatically apply taxes for the US market.

Now where this is going very quickly is micro payments, where you will be able to send money faster and more conveniently than through traditional banking.

Rene, thanks for this fine briefing.  Listening to you, I really get the sense that telecom is about to take partnering and sharing to a whole new level.

I agree, Dan.  The business really is going that way.  And it’s interesting that companies who you would perceive as competitors are willing to interconnect.

Somebody in another country is running traffic into the US and CIMA Telecom is running traffic out there.  So instead of them paying for the traffic to the US, we sit down and negotiate a bi-lateral where we agree not going to charge each other, but keep track of the traffic volumes we trade.  It’s very common, but on the VoIP side of wholesale it’s relatively new.

Lots of business is driven like that: make money from the end users instead of each other.

Copyright 2015 Telexchange Journal

 

About the Expert

Rene Mendez

Rene Mendez

Rene Mendez is an industry veteran with over 30 years of experience in telecommunications, technical sales of integrated systems to service providers of fixed and mobile voice, plus data and video services.

Rene served as Senior Executive to major vendors of telecom equipment in the US, the Americas, Europe and Asia, tending to clients providing wireless, fiber optics, satellite and cable/Pay TV services.   Contact Rene via

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