BSS for the IoT: You Don’t Have To Be A Mobile Network Operator To Do It

The Internet of Things is not predicated on mobile or fixed-line operators. It is predicated on the value derived from the interplay between different sensors and actuators. In the history of mobile telecommunications it was the mobile network operators who provided a service that brought together radio waves and handset manufacturers. The success of mobile telecommunications has led to a 93.5% global saturation rate (source Informa) with the conglomerate operators China Mobile Vodafone. Airtel and Verizon etc being the big winners.

The mobile telecommunications operators manage their customers through their Business Support Systems (BSS) and their network through their Operational Support Systems (OSS). It is the linking between these two major system domains that has allowed MNOs to be so successful. To be a service provider of the Internet of Things, or more prosaically internet enabled devices, does not mean that you must deliver both BSS & OSS. The start up costs are much lower and many companies overlook the opportunities of BSS because it is either too divergent from their existing business, not necessary for the delivery of internet enabled devices or not viewed as an opportunity. All of these misnomers overlook the success that the mobile network operators have enjoyed for twenty years and overrate the complexity of providing a BSS for the IoT. It is likely because of the webbed nature of the internet of things that the provider of BSS operations will be distinct not only from the device manufacturer but also the providers of network capability. The benefit of the IoT will be the interplay between different sensors and actuators that will be difficult for either a single network operator, device reseller or device manufacturer to predict and control. IoT devices are designed to work with a number of different networks using different messaging protocols. The network capability will be distinct because different devices will make use of intermediary gateways, wifi hand-off & near field communication as well as the mobile data network. Existing enterprises already have many of the tools deployed within their organisation that are key to delivering IoT connectivity. Enterprises have deployed CRMs, Enterprise Service Busses and Identity Management Systems (all often in the cloud) that are capable of delivering many of the functions of a BSS Internet of Things network operator. The legacy argument that none of this is possible will be “who does the billing?”. The billing is itemised to the subscriber of the device by all the various interconnecting billing systems for the different involved networks. What these interconnect billing system don’t do is own the relationship between the consumer and the IoT connections. This is where the trusted new organisation can provide the BSS benefits that come from the massive scale of the IoT.

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