The release of the Operator Connect Accelerator program has generated many questions from operators around the globe. We have worked with our colleagues at Microsoft who helped define the program to produce the answers the top questions we have received from real operators.
1. Why has Microsoft developed the Accelerator program?
2. How quickly will Accelerator get me into market?
3. Are there steps that I need to complete before going onto the Accelerator program?
4. What are the main components that Accelerator program?
5. What sort of elements of the Accelerator program are suitable for me?
6. I am considering OC-Mobile in the future. Will Accelerator help in this regard?
7. I currently have a product lifecycle process. How does Accelerator fit with that process?
8. Can I outsource to an Accelerator partner to begin with and then build my own solution later?
9. Can I have two Operator Connect solutions?
10. Why have only 6 partners been announced for the Accelerator program?
11. How many partners could there be within Accelerator program?
12. Can I work with a vendor that has not been selected to be one of the 6 partners?
13. Will there be an upper limit on the number of operators that are onboarded with Accelerator?
14. What are the benefits of building out the API integration vs using a portal?
15. Will accelerator support me with the MAP’s or ER peering?
16. I already have a Teams certified SBC and plan to do the API integration in-house, who should manage my onboarding?
17. What is the support model with an Accelerator partner?
18. What is the SLA model for Accelerator?
19. How do I ensure the Operator Connect SLAs are met by the Accelerator partner?
20. Operator Connect is a rapidly evolving program. Does the Accelerator program supply a guarantee about tracking its evolution and technical enhancements?
21. What happens if my Operator Connect Accelerator partner is acquired?
22. Could I utilize two different Accelerator partners for different deployments?
23. Are there any differences in the approaches being taken by Accelerator partners?
1. Question: Why has Microsoft developed the Accelerator program?
Answer: The program was conceived to assist operators speed their time to market for delivering Operator Connect services. Operators often have rigorous product planning and lifecycle processes that can take 6-12 months to launch a new service. Accelerator helps to alleviate this with a range of outsource PaaS and other wholesale offerings.
2. Question: How quickly will Accelerator get me into market?
Answer: Typically, an Accelerator partner will take between 30 to 60 days to onboard an Operator. The variance in timescales is largely down to what elements you choose to outsource to the Accelerator partner.
3. Question: Are there steps that I need to complete before going onto the Accelerator program?
Answer: Yes, you will still need to apply to join the Operator Connect program, meet the entry criteria, and sign the Operator Connect legal agreement. Once those steps have been performed you may begin the Accelerator program.
4. Question: What are the main components that Accelerator program?
Answer: The key components defined by the program enable Operators to meet the requirements set out by the OC program. Accelerator partners can deliver the certified SBC capability, API integration/interaction capabilities, Azure Peering support and an Operator Connect Onboarding verification service.
5. Question: What sort of elements of the Accelerator program are suitable for me?
Answer: This depends on the type of help you require. Many operators have sought assistance with developing or bridging the APIs, standing up the SBC infrastructure, verification, and general consulting around deployment. However, you should also consider your short- and longer-term goals with Operator Connect. What happens if you have mass adoption, need to support other derivatives like Operator Connect Mobile etc. There are many different factors that affect the strategy. Azure for Operators can help you with the right strategy for your needs.
6. Question: I am considering OC-Mobile in the future. Will Accelerator help in this regard?
Answer: Accelerator is focused on the current Operator Connect calling service that was made Generally Available on September 30, 2021. Operator Connect mobile is still closely managed by Microsoft but Azure for Operators has enhanced its Managed Service for Teams Calling to support Operator Connect Mobile. Managed Service for Teams calling is part of the Accelerator program.
7. Question: I currently have a product lifecycle process. How does Accelerator fit with that process?
Answer: Integration of an Accelerator solution into a wider operator lifecycle process is at the discretion of the operator partner. Many operators have stringent processes to deliver new services to market and will want to ensure that their Accelerator partner can maintain their brand experience when delivering service within Operator Connect. Azure for Operators understands these considerations and can work with the Operator to find an optimal solution.
8. Question: Can I outsource to an Accelerator partner to begin with and then build my own solution later?
Answer: Yes, subject to the terms and conditions of the contract that you sign with the Accelerator partner. However, when you introduce your own built solution, it will need to be validated again by the Operator Connect program.
9. Question: Can I have two Operator Connect solutions?
Answer: No, the only case where this would be allowed is when they sit as two different brands within the Teams administration portal.
10. Question: Why have only 6 partners been announced for the Accelerator program?
Answer: Microsoft has decided to limit the initial numbers in the early stage as happened in the original Operator Connect program. There are plans for more partners which will be introduced as the program matures.
11. Question: How many partners could there be within Accelerator program?
Answer: This will depend on the range of capabilities and coverage model Microsoft requires over the longer term for Operator Connect
12. Question: Can I work with a vendor that has not been selected to be one of the 6 partners?
Answer: An Operator can work with a vendor that has not been certified, however, Accelerator partners are able to provide differentiated value to Operators, for instance by providing Operator Connect Onboarding services.
13. Question: Will there be an upper limit on the number of operators that are onboarded with Accelerator?
Answer: Not at this time.
14. Question: What are the benefits of building out the API integration vs using a portal?
Answer: Operators who wish to re-use the majority of their OSS/BSS infrastructure would be better served by an API-bridge which translates their native APIs to Teams APIs. Operators who lack basic provisioning and automation capabilities in their OSS/BSS system might be better served by a more complete portal. However, it is important to review these requirements in detail before making a final recommendation. We recommend speaking to an Azure for Operator expert on the requirements.
15. Question: Will accelerator support me with the MAP’s or ER peering?
Answer: Both Peering options will need to be procured directly from the provider by the Operator, however Accelerator partners may be able to provide guidance on best practice for submitting requests and link configuration.
16. Question: I already have a Teams certified SBC and plan to do the API integration in-house, who should manage my onboarding?
Answer: In a situation where the operator is building all or most of their solution in-house, they should use Tekvision for OC onboarding verification.
17. Question: What is the support model with an Accelerator partner?
Answer: First line support for Operator Connect must be provided by the Operator who appears in the Teams administration portal. Second and third line support can be provided by the Accelerator partner. When selecting an Operator Connect Accelerator partner you should consider the support path capability and time to resolution capability of the Accelerator partner. Is the Accelerator partner providing SLAs which match your current retail offers to the business market? And will the Accelerator be able to ensure your SLAs follow the SIP and Operational Excellence specifications.
18. Question: What is the SLA model for Accelerator?
Answer: Accelerator partners need to meet the SLA requirements defined in the SIP Specification and Operational Excellence Guide you received in the Welcome Email.
19. Question: How do I ensure the Operator Connect SLAs are met by the Accelerator partner?
Answer: Being included in the Accelerator program ensures that the Accelerator partner follows the Operator Connect SLAs.
20. Question: Operator Connect is a rapidly evolving program. Does the Accelerator program supply a guarantee about tracking its evolution and technical enhancements?
Answer: Accelerator partners will need to ensure mandatory changes required by Teams within a specific timeframe are completed. Certain Accelerator partners will exceed these minimums and add more capabilities such as automation into the OSS/BSS and advanced functions for Operator Connect Mobile integration?
21. Question: What happens if my Operator Connect Accelerator partner is acquired?
Answer: Operators should satisfy themselves about the long-term viability of an Accelerator partner as they would do with any other vendor. The Accelerator program supplies no safeguards in this respect.
22. Question: Could I utilize two different Accelerator partners for different deployments?
Answer: Yes, so long as they are underpinning a different service in the Teams administration portal.
23. Question: Are there any differences in the approaches being taken by Accelerator partners?
Answer: The partners are offering a range of solutions from API bridging, portals, SBCaaS, Network as a service and onboarding/verification support services. The underlying technology used, and several of the partner solutions include of different vendors integrated together. The Azure for Operators solution is unique in utilizing only native Microsoft products within its solution.