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If you are a mediation technology fan -- and there are many of you out there -- you’re probably wondering: “What ever happened to the mediation market? Why has the sector been so quiet in recent years?”
Well, as an industry analyst who’s been following mediation and other BSS/OSS markets for quite a few years, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. Mediation doesn‘t get the press attention and conference coverage that it used to, and that’s a shame because we know that mediation plays such a vital role in the telecom back office.
Mediation is like the stage crew working hard behind the curtain of a theatrical production. They’re the guys who work the spot lights, handle the costumes, move the scenery and perform the dozens of other tasks needed to support the main actors. In telecom BSS/OSS terms, those actors include all of the functions who get the limelight coverage-billing, charging, policy control, revenue assurance, cost assurance, marketing and fraud management, to name a few. But the truth is that none of those actors would accomplish much unless mediation was there behind the scenes doing the valuable data collection, aggregation and often real-time query work its famous for.
So why is it that we don‘t hear much about mediation these days? Well, I attribute it to a couple of things.
First, the number of independent software vendors who sell mediation solutions has dwindled over the years, meaning there are fewer mediation companies eager to get the word out about it. In recent years, for example, AceComm was absorbed by Ventraq. CSG picked up Intec. Narus, a vendor who leveraged its mediation technology in the cyber security business, was sold to Boeing in 2010. Comptel got into the act too, acquiring the some of the mediation assets of the Norwegian firm, EDB Telecom, a few years back.
A second factor that’s put a damper on mediation’s visibility is the mobile broadband explosion. As the market for iPads, Androids and other advanced mobile devices took off, many of the mediation vendors built on their mediation expertise to add products in areas such as charging and policy control.
Ok, so exactly where does mediation go from here? Will the sector stay quiet, or will we see some kind of resurgence in the next few years?
Well, count me as a mediation optimist. I know how deeply embedded mediation technology is in telecom, and I see several industry trends that signal some nice opportunities for mediation to step up and add value.
Not only does mediation have access to the data first, but it can often process that data at a fraction of the cost. The latest mediation platforms utilize X86 and Linux blades that can deliver the same processing power at one tenth the cost of a traditional system.
As we know, most telecom IT shops are religiously attached to UNIX. But because mediation’s home is in the network, it’s politically acceptable to diverge somewhat from IT’s architectural preference.
Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect mediation to move into the limelight. Mediation has thrived quite well in a supporting role. And it can certainly remain working quietly behind the scenes.
Yet, the opportunities are tantalizing. If mediation can offload even a small percentage of wireless broadband bucket computation and analytics, then mediation’s value to the telecom back office is guaranteed to grow very nicely.
This article first appeared in the Comptel Blog
Copyright 2012 Black Swan Telecom Journal