Wireless networks are driving dramatic growth in offerings beyond traditional voice and SMS-oriented services with the introduction of wireless data, mobile marketing, and IMS technologies.
Operators are upgrading billing architectures to quickly roll out new value-based services, targeting the appropriate subscribers and providing users with real-time personalized services and flexible billing options.
The Seven Laws of Converged Billing includes best practices and tips for operators worldwide, as they seek to improve their offerings and reduce operational costs.
First, operators should have a firm foundation for the future. The communications industry will be embarking on a transformation characterized by ubiquitous broadband access, mobility, and low-power multimedia/computational capabilities.
In the classic paradigm, the network operator had direct control over the entire value chain where a limited set of well defined services were offered from a "walled garden" and paid for via established pre/post paid account structures.
The new paradigm will consist of fragmented and shifting value chains consisting of a wide variety of third-party service/content providers, chronologically- and demographically-specific services, and an array of payment mechanisms.
The implementation of a carrier-grade real-time rating and charging platform that can accrue a charge on a transactional level independent of access technology while integrating with existing pre-IMS or IMS-compliant infrastructure is critical to the long-term viability and success of wireless services and to the development and implementation of emerging data services.
Second, operators should name their value-based price. A real-time rating platform creates new revenue streams with individualized rating plans that reflect the pricing requirements of individual geographic regions as well as specific demographic groups.
Network operators require a robust and open infrastructure to offer innovative pricing plans. As wireless data networks expand to enable different types of new services, network operators require the flexibility to price according to content type, events, time, location, traffic type, and delivered quality of service.
Next-generation value-added services are founded on value-based pricing models, and include new business models that subsidize or reallocate service costs to other entities. Value-based pricing must support context-oriented mass customization where subscriber-centric services will be rapidly generated and priced on demand according to the subscriber's preferences.