TR-069 solution enables carriers and CSPs to automate the deployment and support of triple play services.Depending on the type of TR-069 solution, it can provision new devices, remotely configure and update CPE, monitor QoE of services, and offer data insights to services providers - all resulting in an improved customer experience and significant operational cost savings.
A lot has happened in the TR-069 market since TR-069 ACS solutions first emerged. Today, TR-069 ACS are widely accepted products and operators no longer question the need for them. In the last couple of years, large corporations acquired smaller TR-069 vendors, some of the CPE manufacturers began offering their own ACS solutions along with the hardware, the open source initiatives emerged. In this post, we will cover a few basic but crucial criteria that service providers should consider prior to making a purchasing decision. Some criteria may be applicable for larger providers while others will only be relevant for small providers.
Device Agnostic Solution
To be able to reduce operational costs, you need to be able to manage various types of CPEs. For that you need a solution that does two things: 1/ supports multi-protocol CPE management (such as TR-069, OMA-DM, LwM2M and MQTT) 2/ enables provisioning and management of any new device type for any new service without a need of extra development or manual customization (i.e. no need for professional services, templates creation, script writing etc.).
HW Independent Solution
It is preferable to work with a TR-069 vendor that is not dependent on a specific CPE manufacturer or has no agreement or dependency on one. This way, a Service Provider can work with any type of equipment or manufacturer and choose CPE type that is most suitable for its needs and not under constrictions of the TR-069 management software.
Full TR-069 compliance, including all subsequent standards
Not all the ACS vendors provide solutions that are fully compliant with the entirety of TR-069 and all its subsequent protocols. Some solutions on the market provide a basic conformity with the standard. Typically, the vendors that are members of Broadband Forum will be fully TR-069 compliant. Broadband Forum has recently come out with the TR-369 or USP (User Services Platform) that transforms TR-069 into a protocol, suitable for remote management of any network devices (including Smart Home and IoT devices).
Introduction of new services, such as Smart Home or IoT, enables carriers and services providers to generate new revenue streams and increase ARPU. Make sure that the platform you are deploying today will enable seamless addition of such services.
A few years ago, a study of TR-069 ACS implementations conducted by Check Point's Malware and Vulnerability Research Group uncovered several flaws in solutions of some ACS vendors. The potential vulnerabilities stemmed from service providers not implementing TR-069 ACS software in a secure manner. "By gaining access to such [ACS] servers, hackers or intelligence agencies could potentially compromise millions of routers and implicitly the home networks they serve," said Shahar Tal, vulnerability research team leader at Check Point Software Technologies, during the recent DEF CON® 22 in Las Vegas, NV.
When considering a purchase of a new ACS solution, it is recommended to make sure that your vendor has clear installation guidelines in place to avoid security vulnerabilities.
Like many of our customers, especially those launching new services, you may be starting small – only a few thousand CPEs. However, the ACS solution that works great for thousands of CPEs, might not be able to fully support your subscriber base growth. Make sure that the architecture of the solution you are considering to purchase is fully scalable and will be able to give your network room to grow. Along with the scalable architecture, make sure that the solution supports high availability and DR.
When starting small, you might only need the most basic ACS features for provisioning and upgrade of the CPEs. However, as your network grows, a basic solution might not support all the features that a growing, larger network requires. To avoid the need to change a vendor, seek those offering flexible, modular solutions. As you grow, you might be able to add more advanced modules, e.g. QoE Monitoring, BI, Self-Support Portal etc.
Proven Track Record
If you are planning to manage a large number of CPEs, deployment of TR-069 can get complicated if you are not working with an experienced vendor with at least 50 large-scale deployments under its belt. Such vendors will have a required experience and procedures in place, to complete the deployments in a short period of time.
Simple Integration with external systems
TR-069 server can't work in vacuum. It is crucial to ensure that the solution you are about to purchase will easily integrate with your other essential systems – CRM, OSS/BSS, billing etc. The indicators for smooth integration with the external systems are extensive API (REST and not only SOAP).
Flexible and Responsive Support
During the trial (or POC) period, it is crucial to check whether a TR-069 vendor is providing you with a flexible support that is both responsive and tailored to your needs. Some ACS vendors, typically those that are not a part of large tech conglomerates, are more often able to provide the support you require and make customized changes to the solution per your needs. They will be more likely to receive your team's feedback and introduce new features based on them in a timely manner. A standard example of such need is when a CPE doesn’t fully support TR-069. An experienced and responsive to customer's needsvendor will be able to solve the issue and connect the CPE to ACS with some server tweaking.
Various Deployment Options
Depending on your needs and resources, you need to be flexible with choosing a deployment scenario best suited for your organization's needs. As your network grows, you might need to be able to switch from one deployment scenario to another. Some of the ACS vendors on the market offer a full variety of deployment scenarios: On Premises – installation at customer’s premises; Private cloud – dedicated system on a cloud; Vendor Cloud – full SaaS model hosted by the ACS vendor.
Every Service Provider is different – and thus has different requirements for the ACS solution. In this post we have tried to comprehensively outline the purchasing criteria that will enable you to choose the TR-069 ACS vendor whose solution will work best for your organization's specific needs. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions and of course feel free to comment!