Machine Learning in Telecom

Prediction about

  • Customer: behavior, experience, churn
  • Devices: Uptake, Performace, failure
  • Network: Performace, failure
  • Campaigns: Uptake, Network Impact
  • Services: Uptake, Performace, failure, Network Impact.

Tools Use By Telecos for analytics.

  • k-means
  • k-nearest neighbors algorithm
  • RapidMiner
  • KNIME
  • SPSS
  • Tableau
  • Mahout
  • Hive
  • Storm
  • Pig
  • SciKits (Python)
  • Pandas
  • Vertica
  • Teradata

Digital Transformation in Telecom

In a digital world, every user is connected to the digital space, and their experience determines the value of a service – and affects revenue, costs, and reputation. Every customer journey is made up of a complex series of interactions with individuals, technology, and automation. Each of these episodes contributes to the overall customer experience and impacts the quality of service delivered by the communications service provider (CSP) and its brand.

Many CSPs have already begun their digital transformations, with customer experience as a primary driver. In a recent TM Forum surveyed 100 CSPs about transformation, and nearly three quarters said that developing stronger customer relationships was a top
goals for their programs.

Eighty percent of operators said they consider “enabling customers to engage in a consistent and seamless experience across multiple channels that collect relevant
data and maintain a profile of each client using advanced analytics” a high priority. Likewise, 72 percent stated that “establishing a strategy-led comprehensive customer experience roadmap to drive organizational culture, executives, functions, and investments to achieve the target customer experience vision” is a high priority.

But the Big question is how? What’s it like to be a digital consumer? How can operators improve the overall customer experience and still increase revenue?

Discovering real customer insight is our biggest challenge.

Analytics are critical

To accomplish digital transformation and become truly customer-focused, CSPs need to better understand the customer journey. This requires sophisticated analytics and machine learning to take mountains of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources and use it to understand and support customers. In addition to the ‘past’ data that many operators already collect, they also need to take advantage of ‘fast’ or real-time data.

Defining and delivering digital services is complex, and ensuring that the resultant customer experience is efficient and effective requires careful planning and execution. Customer journey analysis and the role of analytics.

Customer journey analysis and the role of analytics

  • What it means to analyze customer journeys
  • Why using advanced analytics and machine learning are important
  • How resultant data can improve customer journeys
  • How Telefónica is modeling customer journeys
  • What to do next.

Analyze customer journeys

As CSPs transform their businesses to become DSPs, it is important to recognize that every action and transaction that occurs during each episode along the customer journey determines whether a customer will subscribe and stay, or churn. Yet, while CSPs regularly list customer experience as an important driver for digital transformation, many customers continue to find it difficult to do business with them via any channel,
anywhere, at any time.

Ensuring a positive customer experience entails more than collecting metrics; it is about the entire experience. Starting with the upfront buying process, operators must turn their full ecosystem of organic and third-party capabilities into compelling offerings that customers can buy through any channel. Once delivered, they must fully support them consistently via those same channels. Doing this requires analytics, machine learning, and automation that are customer-focused and service-aware.

Before and after
While every customer goes on multiple digital journeys every day, there are two distinct customer journeys operators should consider: the journey to becoming a customer and the journey as a customer. The journey to becoming a customer is a typical retail route. At the highest level, it starts with a search for a product or service, during which time the operator has multiple opportunities to engage across a variety of channels. Second is the journey as a customer. As customers use each service, feature, function, and device, it is up to the provider to:

This customer journey is ongoing and enables operators to build a more accurate and detailed picture of each client, their intent, preferences, and behaviors. The
graphic below illustrates both types of journeys.

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GSM Traffic

GSM Traffic

When a new customer just bought a mobile telephone, and he switches on his mobile set first time. No matter he stays anywhere in the world since he connects to the network over a wireless radio link. The system keeps track of his customer location with the help of various databases, Know as SIM (Subscriber Identity Module), VLR (Visitor Location Register), and HLR (Home Location Register).

When a customer switches on his mobile in the area where his operator provides network service. The area is connected through an air interface to the Visitor Location Register (VLR), which is integrated into the Mobile services Switching Centre (MSC). The home operator also maintained location database of his customer. Therefore it maintains another register know as Home Location Register (HLR). HLR stores the necessary data of the customer in a permanent basis.

HLR stores the required data of the subscriber on a permanent basis. The only information in the HLR is the current location of the subscriber (the VLR address). The VLR address is needed because the HLR needs to know what MSC/VLR to ask for routing information in case of a mobile terminated call (a call to the mobile station). When the subscriber moves to another VLR area, its data is erased from the old VLR and stored in the new VLR.

Location Update: – First Time

When a new subscriber takes a connection, he does not stay in one place but keeps moving from place to place. No matter how often or how fast he runs the network able to locate him continuously in case somebody wants to call him. The transaction that enables the system to keep track of the subscriber is known as a location update.

The mobile phone continuously receives information sent by the network. This information includes identification (ID) of the VLR area in which the mobile is currently located. To keep track of its location, the mobile stores the ID of the area in which it is currently registered. Every time the network broadcasts the ID of the area, the mobile compares this information to the area ID stored in its memory. When the two IDs are no longer the same, the mobile sends the network a request, that is, a registration inquiry to the area it has just entered. The system receives the request and registers the mobile in the new VLR area. Simultaneously, the subscriber’s HLR is informed about the new VLR location, and the data concerning the subscriber is cleared from the previous VLR.

Hemant Singh

I am Hemant Singh, working as a Designer in Bangalore, India. I work on Telecom Billing Domain. I constantly keep trying things in Telecom Billing Domain. I would like to share whatever I explore, and I like sharing with others whatever I know, and I hope this blog will give me a good platform to do it.

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My Notes on Telecom Billing

Telecom Billing

Sending voice, data, picture, etc. from one point to another using electronic media is known as telecommunication, and in short, it terms as telecom. Examples include Phone, Radio, Television, and the Internet. The medium of transmission includes Wire, Fiber Optics, Radio towers and Satellite, etc.

Now day everybody is using Mobile phones and Land Line and the same time numerous services provided by telecom operators. Some of the services provided by telecom operators are listed below.

  • Voice Call
  • Fax Service
  • SMS & MMS
  • Internet Connection
  • Data Download and Upload
  • Video Conferencing & Audio Conferencing
  • IP based services, i.e., voice over IP or VPN
  • Toll-Free Services
  • Location tracker

Now Telecom operator generally charges their customer in two ways.

  1. Rental Charges: It is taken from the customers on a monthly basis against a service provided. For example telephony, monthly fees would be $5.00. No matter we use it or not.
  2. Usage Charges: This charge taken from the customers based on the service usages. For example, you would be charged for all the calls made or data downloaded using your phone.

Apart from monthly rental and usage charges, operators some time also charge for services. We called it VAS (value added services) like installation, special number, SIM change, etc.

Telecom Billing is a process of collecting usage, rental charges and finally generating invoices for the customers. Telecom Billing process also includes receiving and recording payments from the customers.

GSM General Architecture

Basically, GSM network consists of four major parts:

  • Mobile Station (MS)
  • Base Station Subsystem(BSS)
  • Network switching Subsystem(NSS)
  • Operation subsystem(OSS)

A mobile station (MS):

A mobile station (MS) communicates to base stations through radio interface Um. The mobile station consists of MT (Mobile termination) and TE (Terminal equipment). The Mobile termination (MT) supports physical channel between MS and base station (radio transmission, channel coding, speech coding). And terminal equipment (TE), e.g., telephone set. Contains terminal/user-specific data in the form of a smart card (subscriber identity module or SIM card)., plugs into any GSM terminal like credit card and identifies the user to the network for personal mobility (in addition to terminal mobility) and security.

Base Station Subsystem (BSS):

The Base Station Subsystem (BSS) is the section of a traditional cellular telephone network, which is responsible for handling traffic and signaling between a mobile phone and the Network Switching Subsystem. The BSS carries out transcoding of speech channels, allocation of radio channels to mobile phones, paging, quality management of transmission and reception over the Air interface and many other tasks related to the radio network. BSS consist of BTS and BSC. BTS communicates with BSC using Abis interface. Base station Subsystem (BSS) communicates with mobile switching center (MSC) through network interface A. Base Transceiver Station (BTS) handles channel allocation, signaling, frequency hopping, handover initiation, etc. Base station controller (BSC) manages radio channels, paging, and handoff for several BTSs.

Network Switching Subsystem (NSS):

It is the component of a GSM system that carries out switching functions and manages the communications between mobile phones and the Public Switched Telephone Network. NSS consist of MSC, HLR, VLR, AUC, EIR. Mobile switching center (MSC) is a gateway to PSTN and packet data networks, performs switching, paging functions, MS location updating, handoff control, etc. Home location register (HLR) stores subscriber info and part of MS’s location info to route incoming calls to visitor location register (VLR) where mobile is roaming. VLR registers users roaming in its area and assigns roaming numbers. The authentication center (AUC) is accessed by HLR to authenticate a user for service. Equipment identity register (EIR) allows stolen or fraudulent mobile stations to be identified

Operation subsystem (OSS):

It contains operations and maintenance center (OMC), network management center (NMC), and administration center (ADC). These network elements work together to monitor, control, maintain, and manage the network

Telecom Billing Systems:

Billing systems provide various functionalities. Here is a list of most important features but not limited to the following:

  • Rating & Billing: This involves rating the products or services usage and producing monthly bills.
  • Payment processing: This involves the posting of the customer payments to customer’s account.
  • Credit control and collections: This means chasing the outstanding payments and taking appropriate actions to get the payments.
  • Disputes and adjustments: This involved, recording any customer disputes against their bills and creating changes to refund the disputed amount to settle the disputes.
  • Pre pay and post pay services: This involves supporting both pre-paid and post-paid customer base.
  • Multilingual & multiple currencies: Multilingual and multiple currencies support is required if the business is spread across globe and have multinational customers or if the government regulations demand it
  • Inter-carrier settlements: This involves sharing of revenue between carriers that provide services to each other’s customers.
  • Products & services: This includes providing the flexible way to maintain various goods and services, and sell them individually or in packages.
  • Discount applications: he involves defining various discount schemes to reduce customer churn and attract and increase client base.

Billing Types:

When we go deep in billing subject, it will become more complicated. I would try to cover most of the concepts later in this tutorial but let us have a broad view on widely used billing types:

  • Pre-pay Billing: A billing mechanism where a customer pays in advance and after that starts using a service. Usually, prepaid customers do not receive any invoice, and they are charged in real time by the highly available billing systems called IN (Intelligent Network).
  • Post-pay Billing: This is the conventional billing which is coming for many years. Here customers buy products and services and use them throughout of the month, and by the end of the month invoices are generated by the service provider and sent those invoices to the customers to make their due payment.
  • Interconnect Billing: The network operator is usually financially responsible for services provided to its customers by other systems regardless of whether or not the customer pays for the service. Interconnect Billing is related to inter-carrier or sometimes called partner settlements.
  • Roaming Charging: When a customer goes from one network operator’s coverage area to another operator’s coverage area, the first operator will pay marginal charges to the second operator to provide services to their customers. Such types of charges are settled through roaming billing. This settlement is done as per TAP protocol.
  • Convergent Billing: Convergent billing is the integration of all service charges onto a single customer invoice. Convergent billing means creating a unified view of the client and all services (Mobile, Fixed, and IP, etc.) provided to that customer.