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Putting Mediation to New Uses

By: Lars Mansson

There’s a compelling argument that, when it comes to data processing, telcos underutilized an application in their IT stacks: mediation.

It’s worth understanding why because with a grasp of the reasons, CSPs can make significant progress in both data and service management for little additional outlay (of either time or money) simply by re-purposing or extending an existing technology investment. In a market where budgets are tight, lead-times short and finding competitive advantage is critical, this matters.

The present, limited view of mediation exists because mediation technology is almost exclusively seen in the context of a single use case, in the BSS domain: billing mediation. It’s for this purpose applications have are most often – almost exclusively, in fact – applied. As a result, the core characteristics of the technology have been overlooked. 

However, the reality is that mediation is not just a “data pre-processing box operating within the billing process” and by extension simply another component in the operator’s BSS stack.  Slowly, that limited view is changing and leading CSPs are now putting mediation to a growing variety of uses.

In reality, mediation, if the right software is used, is a “use case agnostic” smart data integration and management application, and billing mediation is just one of many ways to harness its underlying functionality to commercial advantage. Its underlying performance characteristics and functional assets enable it to deliver value in a variety of areas. Consider:

  • Integration: Mediation provides an integration function that acquires data from one source and processes it before sending it to another. In large volumes. The sources themselves are irrelevant; information is collected from Point A, mediated, and forwarded to Point B. Points A and B could be anywhere or any thing. Yes, they could be charging records (CDRs) from a network element sent to a Billing application, but that’s just one example among many.
  • Correlation: Mediation processes – aggregates, de-duplicates, correlates and so on – the data it captures (in order that applications can receive actionable information in a usable format rather than a tidal wave of raw information). As in the case above, while this has historically most often been for charging and billing, that doesn’t have to be the case. Data is data. Mediation processes it. And the bigger the volume and complexity of data for collection, the more Mediation is needed if applications are to perform to their potential.
  • Offload: Regardless, again, of Points A and B in the example above, smart data processing offloads (often by huge percentages) applications, in the process rendering the IT stack more cost-effective to run and more efficient in performance. Mediated data enables offloading that allows other applications (from an OCS to a CRM) to perform better. For example, mediated data is readily actionable; un-mediated data leaves analytics applications looking for needles in haystacks. 
  • Scalability: Huge volumes of data are already generated by telco networks and they are growing. Mediation can process not only today’s flow but also keep up with expected volume growth (if this isn’t the case with your present mediation application then you should be looking for a replacement). Whether data needs to be processed for Customer Experience Management, Network Analytics, Billing, Fraud Management or other purposes, Mediation has the inherent performance characteristics to handle it.
  • Configurability: Mediation, or at least “modern” mediation solutions are easily configurable to keep pace with the quickly changing requirements and business models of the system user. Any action a result of which is the generation of data (and in telco that is more or less any action), mediation has a valuable role play.

Viewed in this light, CSPs might ask themselves whether they’re fully leveraging their mediation investments. At present, few are and that may be because they lack clarity on where else they can  find value. It's also likely a result of CSPs’ embedded organizational structures wherein responsibility for data processing from network domain to IT layers (such as BSS and OSS) is widely dispersed across different organisations.  In addition to using Mediation for billing purposes (a subject that requires little introduction here), we see at least three timely and important “new” Use Cases that Mediation applications can address: in the domains of OSS, and policy control, and in what I call “lean stacks”. Let’s look at these in more detail.

OSS Mediation

As I’ve already pointed out, data is data. And telecoms networks generate data that’s of value for reasons beyond just generating a bill. For instance, requirements 



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