Auchan Telecom, France
Auchan is an international retail group and multinational corporation with its headquarters in Lille, France. In May 2006, Auchan announced that it would become an MVNO, thus being the first retail-based MVNO in France.
The business need
After having successfully entered the French MVNO pre-paid voice market in 2006, Auchan Telecom, a member of Auchan Group, extended its offer to mobile Internet service. Subscriptions are made available in its numerous hypermarkets located throughout the country. The whole service delivery platform, provided by Comarch, was enhanced to grant customers IP network access, depending on the real-time voucher account balance. As a Software Oriented Architecture, using HTTP and web services as main access tools, Comarch’s integration gateway easily interfaced with the dedicated Mobile Network Operator that Auchan Telecom chose to collect IP traffic.
Auchan Telecom decided to quickly extend its MVNO activity to mobile Internet, choosing to work with a different MNO for that particular business. Comarch has been able to provide a very short time to market: 1 month dedicated to in-depth analysis of requirements and 3 more months to complete the implementation. The whole project started in September and was completed at the end of December, 2007.
Comarch provided Auchan Telecom with more than just software with a range of required capabilities. The company acted as a partner and an advisor on the best practices commonly agreed upon among MVNOs all around Europe, where Comarch has many telecom customers. This knowledge also helped to sharpen requirements and quickly drive the analysis phase.
The general architecture and integration for Auchan Telecom’s voice business is presented in the following picture.
The main challenge during the solution implementation was the enormous number of integrations between many systems from different domains and in different technologies.
All complex business processes important for offering and delivering services are connected with the use of certain small features implemented in distributed systems. The problem with integrations was solved during the first project phase connected with voice services and it was extremely important not to increase this complexity of business processes and integration during data service implementation. This would increase the costs of maintenance or even have an impact on existing services.
After the introduction of Auchan Telecom requirements in terms of expanding the actual business and entering the data card market, Comarch decided to perform a multi level approach to convince Auchan Telecom to use eTOM compliant software from Comarch. The first stage of the solution creation process is always dedicated to gathering all the information and requirements from a customer and ends with a draft that usually does not cover all the necessary customer needs.
This is why the final step of designing a solution appropriate for Auchan Telecom requirements was prefaced by:
- Business analysis with a description of all processes and parties
- Technical analysis with details of integration and interactions
- Proof of concept using all the components that will be part of the final solution
Comarch Solution for MVNOs extended the service portfolio of the operator by providing a simple wireless Internet access for subscribers. The subscriber can buy the wireless data cards from points of sales, e.g. during a visit to a supermarket. After purchasing the data card, the subscriber can connect to the Internet with his/her laptop, or if the account balance is too low, the subscriber is redirected to an open garden captive portal. The open garden can be accessed even if the subscriber does not have credit on his/her account. In addition, the open garden enables the subscriber to recharge the account with a credit card or a PIN code. It is also possible to display advertisements on the open garden captive portal. The subscriber can also recharge his/her account automatically each month via an automatic recharge function. Previous usage data regarding the data service is available for a subscriber to view on a web-based Self Care application.
When the subscriber visits the web portal, the system recognizes the subscriber automatically based on the MSISDN. This way, the subscriber does not have to enter the username and password each time the portal is accessed. As soon as the balance reaches zero, the session is disconnected and the customer is taken to the captive portal to refill the account.
Adding this new data card business was related to a new integration with the MNO providing data service for the MVNO and adding a hardware platform for handling and controlling data traffic.
Existing integrations with customer systems and interfaces for business process management have been reused.
The Data Card business is fully controlled by the MVNO operator which delivers the Internet connection to users, controls all sessions and balances and has full control over the product catalog.
All integrations have been performed with SOA architecture where multiple interfaces from different domains and in different technologies have been connected to the service bus. The service bus exposes business features as web services which are then used internally by Comarch solution modules and certain operator systems. This approach allowed keeping the architecture simple even after the addition of new services. Building completely new business processes for the Data Card business was not necessary.
IP-based services are fully controlled by the Service Creation & Control module which is in fact delivered by Comarch 3ARTS. Its flexibility enables building new services very quickly and easily. It covers the entire process of product preparation, defining the details of the services offered to customers, publishing and selling those services over available sales channels, activating, controlling and billing those services as well as monitoring and reporting.
allows for straightforward product specification and implementation based on standards.
Thanks to this platform, Auchan implemented a solution similar to WiFi hotspots but on edge technology, thus benefiting from the agility and competitive price available for such technologies. Having been able to integrate an IP traffic controlling device (Cisco SSG) within the MNO network, Auchan Telecom has full control of end customer traffic entitlement. Auchan Telecom increased its average revenue per user as well as the loyalty of its customers. The current service creation environment platform might be used in the future to enhance features of the mobile Internet service, for instance to provide a geo-positioning service for customers, allowing them to get closer to their community.
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