OSS vs BSS: What are OSS and BSS systems in mobile networks?

OSS and BSS are an essential part of a mobile network, and while they perform different tasks, the terms OSS and BSS are interrelated. OSS and BSS are network entities or systems representing the operational and business sides of a mobile telecom network.

OSS supports network operations tasks such as performance, faults, configuration, provisioning, network inventory and service assurance; BSS supports customer-facing functions including billing, charging, service fulfilment, revenue management, customer and order management, and product catalogues etc.

OSS – Operations Support Systems

OSS stands for Operations Support Systems or Operational Support Systems. It refers to a system consisting of specialised software and hardware to monitor, analyse, configure and manage all the operational activities within a mobile network.

As a vital part of modern mobile network architecture, OSS enables a mobile network operator to manage the day-to-day operations and maintenance activities within the mobile network.

OSS is a combination of specialised software tools hosted on dedicated servers and is deeply integrated into the overall mobile network, i.e. radio access network and mobile core network. It allows the mobile network to monitor the network status and performance from a centralised office.

The deliverables of OSS mainly include network performance management, fault management, configuration, provisioning of new services, network inventory and service assurance. If something goes wrong within the network, OSS is where you find that information.

With OSS, the radio and core components of a mobile network can be controlled remotely, and the necessary information (data) can be gathered from all the associated network elements. The data can also be presented in a readable format, including periodic and ad-hoc network reports on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and similar analyses.

One of the key benefits of OSS is that it uses automated mechanisms to improve the efficiency of network management tasks, including network operations, optimisation and planning. OSS simplifies the decision-making for the relevant teams within a mobile operator by allowing them to access network data centrally instead of relying solely on manual field measurements.

A mobile network operator needs to be able to monitor the network performance and usage accurately to plan for any potential service degradation proactively in a data-driven way. It allows a mobile operator to troubleshoot and solve unexpected network issues quickly.

As a network-facing entity, OSS helps mobile operators to use relevant network data to design, build, operate and maintain mobile networks. It allows a mobile network operator to activate services for the customer, e.g. voice calls, text messages and mobile data. It also facilitates service assurance through fault and performance management.

OSS is typically produced and sold by mobile network vendors like Ericsson, Nokia, etc., who also build the mobile network equipment.

BSS – Business Support Systems

BSS stands for Business Support Systems and is responsible for handling customer-facing business tasks. Unlike OSS, which deals with specific network elements, BSS has a broader focus. The activities that come under the BSS umbrella include billing & charging, revenue management, customer management, order management, product catalogues and many more.

BSS is customer-centric, and the key focus is on the business side of telecom services rather than the technology side. It allows a mobile operator to define new propositions and tariffs in the system, apply correct prices to the services and features, charge for the services accurately and issue bills and invoices for those services.

Usually, the solution comprises CRM, ordering, charging, billing, self-service, product catalogue and even partner/dealer management capabilities required for general business operations. For example, it can include basic customer-centric capabilities like allowing the customer to update their billing information in the system.

The BSS works alongside Operations Support Systems (OSS), and it is also a crucial part of the network solution available from network vendors. By working with OSS and Customer Services, BSS can ensure a good overall customer experience by delivering services in line with the customer demand.

BSS allows mobile operators to bill the customers for the services they consume accurately. For example, suppose a postpaid customer exceeds their monthly data allowance included in their tariff. In that case, the BSS platform holds the relevant information to apply the correct data overage charges to the customer’s next bill.

The information available through BSS can also be used to create reports for the management and other teams that deal with the business and commercial activities. For example, when a mobile operator launches a new product or service, e.g. a new 5G tariff, it must be configured in BSS to ensure it is entered into the system and ready to be sold to customers.

Interestingly, the acronym BSS also stands for Base Station Subsystem, which is part of the GSM mobile networks. Business Support Systems (BSS) and Base Station Subsystem (BSS) are two completely different entities.

OSS and BSS work together to serve customers efficiently

The integration of OSS and BSS is critical in launching new telco services, which ensures that the services can be sold, set up, and supported. Most mobile network vendors provide both OSS and BSS as part of one overall solution.

OSS deals with the network and technology side, whereas BSS deals with the business and customer side. Both OSS and BSS work closely and combine their technical and commercial capabilities to serve millions of subscribers reliably and efficiently.

One example of OSS and BSS working together is when a customer has fully consumed their monthly data allowance, e.g. 10 GB. In that case, the customer can no longer use any additional data for the rest of the month. This tariff information resides within the BSS, allowing the customer to buy more data. Once the customer has purchased additional data, the newly acquired data allowance can be activated for the customer by the OSS.

Conclusion

OSS and BSS are two critical network elements that are part of all modern mobile networks. OSS stands for Operations Support Systems and refers to a system consisting of specialised software and hardware to monitor, analyse, configure and manage the operational activities within a mobile network.

On the other hand, BSS stands for Business Support Systems, a system responsible for handling customer-facing business functions such as service creation, order management, billing, etc. OSS and BSS work together to help customers introduce new innovative services whilst ensuring a good customer experience.

Here are some helpful downloads

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helped you in developing a better understanding of cellular networks. Sometimes, we need extra support, especially when preparing for a new job, studying a new topic, or buying a new phone. Whatever you are trying to do, here are some downloads that can help you:

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Professionals: If you are an experienced professional but new to mobile communications, it may seem hard to compete with someone who has a decade of experience in the cellular industry. But not everyone who works in this industry is always up to date on the bigger picture and the challenges considering how quickly the industry evolves. The bigger picture comes from experience, which is why I’ve carefully put together a few slides to get you started in no time. So if you work in sales, marketing, product, project or any other area of business where you need a high-level view, Introduction to Mobile Communications can give you a quick start. Also, here are some templates to help you prepare your own slides on the product overview and product roadmap.

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