Legacy OSS/BSS & Next-Gen Networks

By: Jay Meranchik

Years ago, telecommunications carriers embarked on a major network transformation that completely changed the way that carriers operate and perform on a day-to-day, call-by-call basis. Known as the next-gen network, it was filled with promise—and in almost every way it has delivered. The convergence and widespread adoption of VoIP-based technologies and the introduction and evolution of the Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) has resulted in a telecommunications network that looks like and acts nothing like its predecessor, the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN.  

If there are PSTN networks still working today, they are operating at a significant performance and management disadvantage to the next-generation SIP-based networks.  

So, is the industry done? Is 2021 the year the industry declares our emergence into the next-generation network world?

Not quite. There is still one area of a telecommunications service provider’s network that needs to complete the evolution. It’s not the switches, the SBC, the application or feature servers. It’s not the billing, the provisioning or subscriber management systems. It’s more obscure than these obvious systems—and it’s constantly overlooked and underinvested in.

We’re talking about the legacy OSS and BSS systems that deal with aspects of voice services. Candidly, service providers struggle to reinvest in and prioritize these legacy systems. And the most notable of all is the interconnect voice management platform.  

A bit of history

The interconnect voice management platform OSS and BSS system encompasses all the applications and processes that a voice service provider employs in the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month management of the voice traffic that originates on to their network from a foreign network or exits their network to be terminated “off-network.” This applies to wholesalers, retailers, OTT, conference-calling providers, application providers, and more. “More” can include any company that is in the business of providing voice-based calling services and needs to have the ability to support calls that originate or terminate “off-net.”

The interconnect voice industry has been around for a long, long time. In 1996, when the U.S. passed the landmark Telecommunications Act, everything changed. This, plus the introduction of VoIP, led directly to the creation of new technologies and what business schools now refer to as “creative destruction.” New technologies and new business models completely shattered the old ways of doing business. Ma Bell was gone; now competition and hyper-competition were introduced, invited and supported.

The results of this revolution reverberated across the industry as hundreds, if not thousands of new companies were formed. VoIP became embraced as the new technological standard and telecommunications carriers scrambled to invest billions of dollars to transform and evolve their networks.

Evolution…or revolution?

The next-generation network evolution—or revolution—had begun.

As companies were investing billions in the new technology, they were scrambling to figure out how to change their business and operating models and leverage the new technologies to their benefit.  This turned out to be much harder than they realized as the traditional ways of doing things had been established for decades. The new operating and commercial models pushed companies in ways they didn’t expect and therefore they were unprepared to respond and thrive within. Carriers had limited their focus to the “switching” technologies that VoIP, and eventually SIP, replaced—when, in reality, VoIP and SIP made the entire universe of a telecommunications carriers’ network and operations a holistic platform that required all parts to evolve. 

This meant that OSS and BSS—billing, provisioning, subscriber management, credit management, pricing, rating, accounting and all the supporting systems to a carriers’ actual voice network—needed to evolve in order to capitalize on and leverage the benefits of the next-generation network.

As carriers began to realize that the investment required was beyond their original forecasted scope, they reprioritized activities. They began to invest in not only next-generation network components but also the next-generation support systems that were needed. As a result, carriers made massive investments in subscriber management, provisioning and billing systems.  CRM systems evolved rapidly and today, they are some of the most technologically advanced and largest-scale customer management tools in the world. Unfortunately, this work lost momentum when it came


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