The terminology of telecoms – what does it all mean?

10 February 2016 | Andy Stubley

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Andy Stubley

Blog Author | SysMech; COO


For an industry that has only been around for 120 years, telecommunications has seen a lot of change. In a short period of time we have gone from the basic telephone exchange in the 1880’s right through to services like HD video calling that we are used to seeing today. It’s no surprise that over this time the language we use in telecoms has also been modified and transformed.

Today we hear a lot of terms marked as the ‘next big thing’, so what are these terms we are hearing right now, and what do they all actually mean?

OSS Transformation

The term OSS transformation has been rising in popularity over the past 10 years, and it’s no surprise. As new mobile technologies have been introduced and networks have grown, the architecture to support this has become outdated. Mobile network operators (MNOs) now have a multitude of tools, which all work in isolation. They have become difficult to manage, highly time-consuming and are building up continuous maintenance and support costs.

In the last couple of years MNOs have reached breaking point, and OSS transformation projects are now fully underway. What this actually means is that MNOs are getting rid of their old, single purpose tools, and implementing one centralised platform that can do everything. This one platform will then be used to manage the entire network, and be adopted by all their teams including; network operations, service operations, network optimisation, quality assurance, network planning and customer care. 

Other words for OSS Transformation? If you are not familiar with the term, you may have heard of it by these other names; umbrella performance management, end-to-end OSS, 360 degree data view, centralised performance management or unified service assurance.

Multi-play

MNOs are looking to new revenue streams to support continual growth, and multi-play has emerged as one with great potential. Multi-play can be easily defined as one operator offering customers multiple services as a bundled package. These services include mobile communications, fixed line telephony, broadband and TV services. Simply put, dual-play combines two services, triple-play combines three services and quad-play combines all four.

What is more complex however is the impact this is having on the telecoms landscape. We are seeing more and more collaborations and mergers to support this business model. The UK is a prime example, with BT buying EE and Three moving to buy O2. 

Other words for multi-play? There are a number of levels to multi-play, so you may know it by a few other terms; dual-play, quad-play, quadruple play, the fantastic four, bundled services or fixed-mobile convergence.

Customer Experience Management

If you have ever worked in sales or marketing, the term Customer Experience Management (CEM) will more than likely fill your mind with thoughts of difficult, clunky tools which often prove to be more of a burden than a sales support tool. In telecoms however, CEM has been adopted as a broad term to cover pretty much anything that involves a customer interaction. This has meant that a plethora of tools, events and conferences have popped up with a mixed focus. This can range from tools to measure the net promotor score (NPS), processes to develop online customer support portals, or solutions to optimise the network to drive a positive impact on the customer experience.  

As the market evolves, we are now beginning to see two paradigms of CEM emerge, which will form two clear divisions of CEM in the near future:

Macro CEM – The quality of experience across the whole network - or the mean experience

Micro CEM – The experience of an individual at any point in time. 

Macro CEM focusses on the experience delivered to all customers, or specific groups such as corporate accounts or customers at a major event. Macro CEM allows MNOs to optimise the customer experience through techniques such as network optimisation, small cell distribution and handset upgrades.

Micro CEM on the other hand focusses on the experience of an individual user and is associated with online customer support portals, automated marketing campaigns and personalised offers. 

Of course, as the industry advances we are seeing more and more new terms appear, all of which will be defined and interpreted differently as they unfold.