Cloud billing

As telecom services increase in complexity, so too do the demands on telcos’ billing systems.

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Cloud billing Omar Barzanji warns operators about the risks of revenue leakage.
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By  Nithyasree Trivikram Published  October 17, 2010

Mobile data has been growing about 10 times faster than voice in the recent years, and the number of subscribers worldwide reached its five billion mark in July, with mobile penetration standing at 74%, according to a study by US research firm, Wireless Intelligence study.

While this level of growth presents major opportunities for telcom operators, it is also gives rise to numerous challenges, and charging and billings systems are among them.

In the prepaid market, 35% of new phones are being added every month in emerging markets. Here, billing presents a different kind of challenge. A further layer of complexity is added by the growing popularity of value-added services such as content, games and films.

Billing and charging

The range of telecom products is proliferating rapidly, and includes traditional wireline subscriptions, prepaid offerings such as tokens and scratch cards, multiple fixed and mobile data plans, and third party offerings such as television.

All of these can be offered in various multi-play bundles in order to improve profitability and customer retention.

However, to make a success of this, operators require an integrated, comprehensive billing and charging system that addresses the demand for multiple services.Furthermore, operators can lose valuable revenue by failing to update their billing systems to cope with additional services, particularly when they depend
on real-time information about a customer’s credit.

For example, Manoranjan Mohapatra, CEO of Comviva, says that about 10-30% of people who call to access content are denied because they do not have enough balance. “Here, an operator can sell by giving credit to a subscriber by carefully evaluating the creditworthiness of the subscriber,” he says.

“Prepaid is about real-time charging and billing based on a per call basis. And the dynamism of decision-making involves both policy at the marketing level and the ability of the technology to support the policy of giving overdrafts for negative balance,” he adds.

Omar Barzanji, CEO of Technology Partners, agrees that real time information is vital for billing systems. He also thinks that it is important to highlight the difference between a billing system and a charging system when discussing billing issues. “A charging system collects the details of customers’ usage activities and also manages the transaction life cycle, and these transactions are to be collected in real-time. Whereas billing systems are intended to generate bills periodically to customers, manage the payments and publish an interface to their data for CRM integration. But increasingly, billing requires real-time interaction to include new products such as prepaid accounts,” he adds.

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