Last year I had a chance to catch the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival in Austin, Texas. ACL is a two-weekend, three-day event where bands come to play their music across five stages at Zilker Park (Austin’s version of New York’s Central Park, or London’s Hyde Park). I was mixing in with all sorts of teenyboppers, local music lovers, and out-of-town visitors to enjoy live music in an outdoor setting. The music was amazing, but you know what was NOT amazing? The network. Once inside the park, texts hung undelivered and phone calls were spotty, at best. Unless you could find a Wi-Fi point near a VIP lounge, you were S.O.L. I overheard several people commenting, “I’d pay $20 a day to get reliable service right about now.”
And that’s when I had the spark of a GREAT idea.
Why is this a problem? Zilker Park, on an average day, probably has a thousand visitors. But during the festival it surges up to a very densely packed 75,000 people, all wanting to stream TikToks of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, post FOMO snaps on Instagram, or text friends where to meet up. But being a telco girl, I know why this is a hard problem to solve. To improve this experience AND monetize it, the organizers would need to buy private network equipment, a BSS, a charger, set it all up, then once the festival was over, tear it all down and probably just throw it all away. So I totally get why this doesn’t make economic or business sense to do.
With the new guard in telco tech coming in, with their super cool SaaS, pay-by-the-use, multi-tenant, and (of course) public cloud-based technology, organizers and enterprises can now automatically deploy a private network and easily monetize it.
The old way of monetizing PENs SUCKS
Enterprises have tried to monetize private networks before; this isn’t a new idea. But because traditional telco software vendors deploy on-premises as a single instance, the industry has previously been limited to two terrible approaches:
- Have the telco share its proprietary tech stack—mobile core, BSS, charger, etc.—with its enterprise customers, or
- Make enterprises set up and manage their own tech stack.
Both of these approaches are doable, but so, so sucky. In the first case, telcos have to share their limited capacity and proprietary tools, which is hard for them to do, especially since they haven’t provisioned it for that kind of use or planned for the extra capacity the enterprise might require. In the second case, it’s super expensive and complex, and non-telco enterprises don’t want to go through the effort.
That’s why a new approach is getting everyone excited.
Totogi makes it easy
Traditional vendors deploy charging stacks customer-by-customer, like Seibel used to do for customer relationship management (CRM). Totogi has one platform supporting all tenants, more like Salesforce. Think about how easy it is to get started with Salesforce compared to the old, pre-cloud CRM approach. Night and day.
There are two things Totogi has that dinosaur vendors can’t match:
- It is a multi-tenant platform; and
- It is built on the public cloud.
We don’t install one customer at a time; Totogi is a charging-as-a-service platform that’s always running. We can instantaneously add new instances for new enterprise customers and quickly remove them. We can give each enterprise the ability to design its own plans without needing technical assistance from anyone.
And because we’re running in the public cloud, all software and infrastructure is pre-packaged and dynamically deployed. There’s no hardware to set up and no capacity to plan. It all scales on demand and can be decommissioned automatically.
To showcase our monetizable private enterprise network (PEN) at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, we partnered with Tech Mahindra, ENEA and CASA Networks to create a proof of concept running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The demonstration was a cloud-native 5G, private enterprise network with multi-tenant, carrier-grade charging capabilities provided by Totogi’s Charging-as-a-Service. You can watch the demo on demand.
How it works
Let’s take another example of monetizing a PEN: free shipping ports (you know, ships coming in and out of port to pick up and drop off cargo). Free ports cover a wide geographical area over water, where it’s difficult to put in Wi-Fi. Free ports also have different customers coming and going all the time. But imagine if the port authorities could set up a PEN with awesome 5G service and have a way to easily monetize it by creating a chargeable plan for each customer. It would be a great way to recoup the costs of setting up the PEN. The port owner would be able offer each shipping customer a customized plan, even going as far as letting those customers create their own plans to charge their suppliers and vendors for the connectivity they use during their stay. The port could charge different traders and partners based on usage, network quality, or speed. Once the customer departed the port, they could decommission the user plane for that customer and most of the costs would instantly disappear. When a new customer comes into the port, they would just deploy a new user plane for them, and do it all again.
Today, a Tier 1 US telco is already putting this idea to use. Totogi’s Charging-as-a-Service is being included in a proposal for a free port, displacing a dinosaur vendor from the bid that was proposing to support this use case using the old school, single tenant, on-premise way. For the reasons outlined above, the telco hasn’t been able to offer a good solution—until now. The killer quote I overheard from this Tier 1 was, “I’ve been coming to MWC for years and I don’t impress easily. I am impressed.”
So, if your enterprise customers are looking to monetize their private networks and you’re struggling with the cost, complexity, and timeline, check out our demo from MWC and drop me a line! You can also watch my interview with Ray LeMaistre from TelecomTV to learn more, or visit Totogi’s Charging-as-a-Service page, where you can set up a demo. And if you’re in Austin this year for ACL (I just bought my tickets today!), say hello! It’s running October 6-8 and October 13-15, 2023. Maybe someone will set up a private network with Totogi so I can text my friends from anywhere during the show?
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Taking the pain out of monetising private networks
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