Revenue assurance takes on bigger role

Alon Aginsky, cVidya Networks
26 Mar 2007

The increasing variety of service bundles and subscription plans offered by service providers is having an interesting effect on the OSS industry.During the last few years, the field of revenue assurance (RA) has risen in prominence within the big picture of OSS, and has matured impressively in the variety of tools developed and value brought to service providers.

In its early years, RA was considered by some to be little more than an afterthought in telecom operations, but is now treated as a strategic consideration among many service providers. More specifically, many service providers considered to be the most advanced by industry peers have instituted full-fledged RA operations centers increasingly close to C-level management.

The new position of RA is reflected in its higher profile among interoperability forums and standardization bodies. For example, the TeleManagement Forum published a Revenue Assurance Guidebook several months ago, which contributed to standardization in the field, and more recently mapped RA into its integrated NGOSS framework.

Common perception is that the importance of RA has risen because so has vulnerability to revenue leakage. However, the problem today is not simply the same old story with bigger numbers. Although revenue leakage is not a new concept, the specific causes and solutions are always evolving.

RA has generally dealt with various aspects of data integrity - for example, data integrity between network resources and billing data, and provisioning process integrity are among two areas traditionally covered. One of the newest forms of RA support is rating and billing verification, and is a perfect example of the way in which this field has developed into a central component of telecom OSS.

Rating and billing, the processes by which each call or other usage event is matched with its appropriate plan and charged, have become more significant with the increased personalization of services offered.

For many legacy services and their typical monthly rate for unlimited usage plans, individual usage events rarely impacted the bottom line, making rating and billing not a major concern. With the variety of service bundles, subscription plans, on-demand options, and promotional schemes offered, each event has more of an impact on revenue, and legacy rating and billing systems can be overwhelmed.

Aside from the sheer variety of subscription plans, the rapid changes taking place pose a further challenge. Even among simpler legacy service providers, it has long been shown that revenue leakage is always highest following any billing change.

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