Open Access

The Future of Fiber Networks

In Open Access networks the same physical network infrastructure is utilized by multiple providers delivering services to subscribers. Open Access networks have been very successful in COS Systems home market of Sweden for more than a decade and COS Business Engine is used for operations of open access networks in more than 100 municipalities.

The Open Access business model is now winning ground globally as governments and municipalities find the concept of offering competition between providers and the freedom of choice for the subscriber is essential. It has also proved to be a feasible way to connect rural areas where service providers might have a hard time generating enough revenue to justify investing in their own network infrastructure.

There are two major models of open access, the two-layer open access model and the three-layer open access model, and COS Business Engine supports both.

So What´s the Trick?

Operating an Open Access network is way more complex than being the single provider on your own infrastructure.

As an Operator you have to keep track of:

  • Every single subscriber in the network, their physical address, their “technical address” (switch, switch port, etc.).
  • Which services they are buying from which provider/s.
  • The total number of customers and/or services bought if you’re operating in a three-layer model where you have to report back to the network owners how their network is utilized.

Getting this correct is tricky, but the real complexity comes over time, when customers move, cancel services, buy new services, change service providers, new providers enter the network and adds new services, etc. It’s simply not possible to do this without the support of a BSS/OSS (Business and Operations Support System) tailormade for keeping track of all these moving parts. COS Business Engine has been depended on for operations of Open Access Networks since 2008 in the market where Open Access was born.

Online Marketplace

For the subscribers to benefit from the freedom of choice and competition between providers that are delivering services on the network they are connected to so they will need a comprehensive way to browse the assortment of services. COS Business Engine comes with an online Marketplace where all available service providers and services are presented.

With COS Business Engine the services and offerings are updated in real-time by the Service Providers themselves. The Service Providers can act quicker on competitive offerings, the network owner and operator will not have to do anything increasing their effectiveness and the subscribers benefit from the competition among providers.

Open Access Billing

Below is a description of the billing model most widely used on open access networks which is also supported by COS Business Engine.

  1. The Service provider bills the subscriber for the service.
  2. The owner and operator then bill the service provider for allowing the service provider to deliver that service on the network.
  3. In a three-layer network the operator invoices the service provider and then the network owner bills the operator for their right to operate on their network. Sometimes the operator also bills the network owner for the daily maintenance of the network and provisioning of the services.

The Importance of High Data Quality

Billing disputes are common in open access networks lacking a proper support system. The operator needs to get paid by the service providers for their operations of the network and the service providers off course don’t want to pay for nothing more than the number of subscribers they are actually delivering services to. This requires high data quality that last over time and no rooms for human errors.

In COS Business Engine all the entities are working with their own restricted logins to the same system and thousands of validation and cross-checks ensures that no bad data comes into the system and that there are never any uncertainities on which providers are delivering which services to which subscribers at any given time. COS Business Engine also aggregates all the billing data necessary to do a single bill per provider and month. If you have five providers on the network you are operating you will only have to send five invoices out per month and all the necessary data is aggregated by COS Business Engine.