Telecom Operators to Complete 100 % Migration Towards NGN by 2011-end

The major telecom operators will complete their Core Networks’ migration towards the R4 architecture up to 100 percent by 2011-end as they have started their deployments aggressively as part of their plans to shift over to New Generation Network (NGN), a report published by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) stated.

Pakistan Telecommunication Limited (PTCL), having the largest fixed line network, has approximately 10% of its network operating on C5 NGN architecture.

The cellular phone operators including, Ufone, Telenor and Mobilink have 100%, 75% and 70% of their networks migrated to R4 architecture respectively. The overall migration will be completed, cent percent, by all operators with an approved plan for 100% by December 2011, the report said.

The major operators of (Long Distance International) LDI’s named Wateen, Worldcall and Telecard have whole of their LDI network on NGN architecture whereas Land-line networks are still on legacy networks.

The operators and stakeholders do agree to the fact that Fiber at the access level of NGN is matchless in performance, but its high cost and maintenance expense due to physical breaks, high ROW (Right of Way) charges and above all, the user affordability concerns overshadow its performance advantages in Pakistan market, especially at the domestic level.

In Pakistan NGN deployments started in 2005 but appreciable activity has been noticed during 2008 & 2009. The probable answer to ”why not an aggressive activity in NGN migration observed, four to five years back is that there has been a substantial growth in GSM-telecom subscribers in Pakistan over the last few years.

The operators have been relatively less aggressive about offering new services. And the current networks are still so much revenue generating that operators have shown their hesitation to move from legacy interconnects to IP-interconnects. Probably the launch of 3G will change this approach of the industry here.

Opex-savings with advanced technology

One of the major drivers of NGN migration is the cost saving, but it is very clear that the NGN-core saves the cost but the deployment of NGN access needs a lot of investment to be pooled in.

According to an operator “NGN still needs to prove their ROI’s (Return on Investment) and the total cost of ownership needs to be considered while evaluating such investments.”

The market research company Ovum has pointed out that it will take some time before the cost-reduction potential in NGN becomes noticeable due to more efficient network management. The procedure will take several years.

The other core driver is that, the legacy TDM network equipment is reaching obsolesces and not fully covered by vendor’s support and maintenance contracts.

So the motivation for NGN migration is not necessarily just to advance the services and reduce the OPEX but rather to move the network to next stage and get rid of 20 years old TDM equipment. Almost all the operators would prefer opting for Buy-Back arrangement of the dismantled TDM equipment with respective vendors.

Focusing on the current status of NGN networks in Pakistan, the migration status and future plans of the operators, experiences, difficulties and feedback about the migration to these networks; an exclusive report has been prepared by working group established by Pakistan Telecom Authority with all the major operators and stakeholders to help guide the industry momentum to an effective migration and to resolve any problems that may be faced during transition.

In the past seven months, meetings of the Working Group, addressing the following agendas have been held.

  • Hardware standardization.
  • Carrier Interconnects in Pakistan, Present and future roadmaps.
  • Requirements and framework of end-to-end QoS in NGN.
  • Security considerations for NGN networks.

Vendors including Nokia-Siemens, Huawei, ZTE also participated, addressing the QoS and Security reservations and consideration. All the stakeholders came-up with concerns and also provided their network status to help assist the authority for future policy.

Implementation Challenges During Migration:

Some of the challenging tasks identified in NGN networks have been related to:

  • Planning and network dimensioning, arising because of differences in dimensioning parameters.
  • Similarly in operations, maintaining KPIs to a certain level in rearranged networks.
  • Propagation delays, jitters and packets loss are the common problems effecting quality due to lack of high standard SLAs.
  • During transition from legacy to NGN networks, spam and voice quality will need focused attention.

Other major migration concerns for fixed-line operators have been identified as:

  • OSP (Outside Plant) transfer from legacy to new system, and its development,
  • Migration/transfer of Subscriber profiling and Routing issues.

Tariff/Charging Principles in NGN:

In NGN Networks, the principle of tariffs shall be dependent on the different flavors of services offered to the public and the bundle formats.

Principles of charging will change due to flexibilities of applications bundling. The consumers will be able to enjoy both the flat rates or pay-as-you-go tariffs and the combination there-off. Other variants will be customer segmentation, timing of day and area of service etc.

Similarly, End to End QoS guarantees may become difficult unless interconnects and SLAs are made between all service providers in chain as well as between originator and the end users. Standardization of definitions of class of services will be the issue.

There will be no new scalable competition with NGN unless significant market power rules are adopted by the PTA.

In its report, PTA discussed various other issues including threats, potential, cost reduction, tariff, and challenges deployment of NGN.

You can download complete report by clicking this link (Format: PDF, Size: 915 KB)