MEF members HGC Global Communications (HGC), DCConnect Global, and QLC Chain under the auspices of MEF have successfully collaborated in their MEF Proof-of-Concept (PoC) that leverages MEF Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) APIs with Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to create Smart Bilaterals for end-to-end ordering, billing, and settlement of data services.
As part of the MEF’s new Commercial and Operational framework (W114), this PoC is a key foundational step to demonstrate how we can overcome cross-partner business process integration challenges across the telco service value chain that cost the telecom industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Telecom service providers invest significant amounts in systems and resources for external-facing commercial transactions with their telecom partners. When service providers partner establishes a new commercial relationship/bilateral, they usually require customized interfaces to integrate their systems and processes. And this effort needs to be repeated for every bilateral entered.
Even with a smooth integration, these systems of record typically do not have a “Golden Source” for the shared commercial state of the orders and there are considerable inefficiencies throughout the Order-to-Cash value chain. As a result, much time and money is spent on reconciliations, disputed prices or bills, lost orders, and sometimes even legal actions. Worse still is the damage to the commercial relationship.
The MEF 3.0 PoC (130) was raised to demonstrate a viable solution to address “implement once, use many’ process integrations for data services. The core of the PoC and the associated in-development-standard MEF W114 is “Smart Bilaterals”. Smart Bilaterals are DLT-based Smart Contract systems that enable an immutable, self-executing commercial state between two or more service providers by establishing a shared commercial state that ensures the correctness of all generated commercial documents; commercial documents are only generated when they conform to the Golden Source.
Utilizing QLC Chain’s Trusted Billing platform that uses standard MEF LSO Sonata APIs and standardizable Smart Bilateral protocols, the partners successfully demonstrated:
- Only a one-time onboarding is required to conduct business with any other service provider on the same network, and
- The automation of the Order-to-Cash value chain for data services transactions in near real-time. It is a secure and automated system-to-system integration for ordering based on available published inventory and price, as well as, billing, invoicing, and settlement without the need for reconciliation. Each transaction/order is managed end-to-end in near real-time.
“Thanks to the great work of this PoC team, we are able to demonstrate the benefits of the combination of DLT and MEF LSO APIs,” said Daniel Bar-Lev, VP Strategic Programs, MEF. ”Cost reductions through automation and synchronization virtually eliminate costly billing errors and process cycle times. Likewise, it opens up new revenue streams to service providers by cost-effectively supporting high volumes of transactions for short-lived services, which are increasingly important in the era of Bandwidth-on-Demand, IoT, NFV/5G, and network slicing”
“LSO-APIs have enabled a large degree of standardization and automation in our Lead-to-Order processes. Developing and integrating the DLT-base Smart Bilaterals to our LSO-APIs service chain will enable us to complete the Lead-to-Cash process within seconds. We intend to extend this capability to chain Legato APIs, further enhancing full automation all the way to orchestration, thereby opening up more revenue and go-to-market opportunities. The potential to provide a frictionless and seamless experience for our customers is truly exciting.” said Jacqueline Teo, HGC’s Chief Digital Officer.
Victor Ma, DCConnect Global’s General Manager, added: “Given the pace of service ordering and provisioning have been greatly accelerated by programmable and on-demand network supported by SDN technology, business transformation is now fully facilitated with agility, scalability, and automation. While inter-carrier API orchestration is mature with MEF LSO Sonata API standard, we are thrilled to get further evolution on billing and settlement aspects using DLT-based Smart Bilaterals. This MEF PoC 130 has successfully demonstrated the benefits which we believe the federation of carriers would enjoy by getting onboard the Billing platform. It has been a wonderful experience working with QLC Chain and HGC on this groundbreaking Proof-of-Concept.”
“Telecom service providers are very interested in Distributed Ledger Technology and the adoption is accelerating. In summary, our initial outcomes from the PoC demonstrated QLC Chain, the privacy-preserving and high volume chain, is suitable for the nature of transactions of telecom services, the PoC 130 will be available for partners to test at an open platform. We are grateful to work with MEF, HGC, and DCConnect and will continue to offer production-ready solutions to the industry” said Susan Zhou, Chief Operating Officer of QLC Chain.
Based on the positive outcomes, HGC, DCConnect, QLC, and MEF will continue on their joint path to drive DLT-LSO API standards and start bringing onboard partners as well as other MEF members to enjoy the benefits of the Smart Bilaterals.