Redefining ‘open access’ for fibre networks in South Africa
Everyone wants high speed fibre connectivity and providers are jostling to get fibre into the ground and to the door of businesses and residential customers. The fastest route to a return on these fibre investments is to allow open access, enabling multiple ISPs and telecoms providers to use it to provide services, however, it has become messy. Reflex Solutions, a Jasco company, offers an advanced virtual access model which brings relief to the market—benefitting all stakeholders, from fibre owners to end users and their ISPs.
Says Greg Wilson, CEO of IT, Carrier Solutions, networking and telephony provider Reflex Solutions: “With fibre provision riding a growing demand curve in South Africa, the models used to connect end users to services are proving a differentiator. The original model, which accommodates all comers and leaves technical aspects (such as plugging into the network) up to each ISP, is proving less than efficient. Our model, which relies on solid infrastructure, automation, aggregation and networking expertise, is changing the definition of ‘open access’.
Reflex Solutions’ open access interconnect model simplifies infrastructure management by aggregating the Fibre Networks and ISPs. This virtualises service management for ISPs and Fibre Operators alike. “It is not only being adopted by all the leading fibre providers—we count Vumatel, Maboneng Broadband and Evotel as our clients — it’s being applauded by ISPs. It also offers end users considerable cost, service provider choice and service level advantages,” says Wilson.
The old ‘open access’ model
Why is the all-comer access model not working? “When every ISP that offers a service on a specific fibre network has to connect into that network with its own equipment, light the fibre up and install on-premises equipment at the client to deliver the service - things can get really complex,” Wilson explains. “It makes services costly and often unreliable as the cost to deploy all the belts and braces becomes inhibitive, and is a big headache for the fibre owner who has to manage multiple ISP interconnects.”
Using the all-comer model, getting connected becomes a costly investment for ISPs requiring networking and technology expertise, as well as feet on the ground to service the client. That cost is passed on to the customer. The process is time consuming and time to deliver the service can be excessive. In addition, depending on the capabilities of the ISP, service levels can vary.
Notes Wilson: “For facility owners—e.g., of a residential or business park—and for users, an all-comer open access model often means that in addition to costly and erratic service, service offerings are likely to be limited. ISPs often find the investment needed to connect into the network too high, especially when there are limited end users that can be served and a number of ISPs are already servicing them.
“Our more advanced open access model removes many of these challenges by providing a single ‘doorway’ and high-level infrastructure management services.”
Automation – the next wave
The next wave in the industry is for ISP’s to automate their processes by integrating their systems into the fibre operators’ systems. The workload with all the varied systems out there is immense and something single ISP’s will battle to tackle alone. Through our API platform we provide a single point of integration for all parties. This will speed up integration and integration will mean faster connecting up of subscribers with less faults!
True open access – insist on it!
Reflex Solutions’ open access model is built on its network expertise. With over a decade of experience in the market, a large infrastructure portfolio and strong team of professionals, the company has the capability to roll out fibre networks, connect new fibre networks into datacentres, and provide users with connectivity. It also enables ISPs to interconnect rapidly to this infrastructure.
Open access is only open access if:
- It gives subscribers a wide choice of service providers on an equal footing.
- It is more cost effective than an ad-hoc service delivered by the service provider directly to the end user.
- Is pre-installed and delivers fast lead times to end users.
- Interconnect point is at a carrier neutral data centre where the majority of service providers already have a presence.
- There must be a published service rate card and services must be available day one (no empty promises).
“In essence, our open access model provides an intermediate layer of infrastructure control that allows ISPs and service providers to simply plug into the network and do what they do best—provide services,” says Wilson. “We provide the technical capability, installing our equipment to light the fibre up and providing backhaul and interconnect services. This not only removes the pain of connecting, it ensures users get the service they pay for – full uncontended throughput.”
Reflex Solutions also makes service provisioning easy for ISPs. “We offer virtual service management capabilities,” explains Wilson. “This means the ISP no longer has to physically make changes to customer premises equipment when customers request new services or change their service selection; our virtual service management application allows the ISP to simply switch the requested services on or off virtually — we do the rest.”
The benefits of the evolved open access model are clearly significant:
• Gives ISPs rapid, easy access to the fibre network
• Lowers the cost of connectivity to end subscribers (by up to 50%)
• Speeds time to service delivery
• Ensures a wider variety of services at a better cost
• Takes care of backhaul services
• Improves consistency and reliability of services
Says Wilson: “For fibre providers, this model is highly beneficial. It outsources the infrastructure management to experts which means they can onboard more ISPs and more subscribers, delivering a high level of service to both and a lower cost of entry. This will attract more users and, ultimately, deliver faster ROI for the fibre owner. With growth for the big fibre providers currently accelerating faster than that for the top five telcos, this evolution of the open access model is the future.”
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.