Unleashing the promise of IPTV

Steve Borelli, Comverse
28 Aug 2007

Television is being transformed by the Internet revolution. The promise of millions of personalized on-demand program is now becoming a reality worldwide, enticing new consumer usage and creating important new revenue streams.

This is stimulating competition, as telcos enter a market traditionally occupied by cable and satellite companies. Key to capturing this new revenue stream is the billing and customer care system, equipping operators with the tools for success: real-time financial management control and a wealth of customer profile data.

IPTV is a key priority for many telcos wishing to reap vast financial rewards. Infonetics Research predicts that the number of IPTV subscribers will reach 53 million by 2009, with revenue surging to $6 billion for equipment and $38 billion for services. Obtaining and retaining these new subscribers is a key priority, and traditional telcos with their existing consumer databases are in a prime position to succeed.

But incumbent cable and satellite TV providers are also putting up a fight, adding VoIP, video-on-demand, content, games and other services to their current video and Internet offerings.

To compete with incumbent providers, time-to-market will be critical for new entrants. But to win and retain customers, operators must also have an infrastructure to deliver the best customer experience.

Towards future success

A major challenge for telcos is whether or not their billing systems can support the demands of these new services and the new marketing models they require. Many operators worldwide have legacy billing systems that can't support the new types of services and innovative bundles that will be required to drive industry growth.

The majority of these legacy billing and customer care systems works in silos and cannot easily communicate with applications that handle other aspects of the customer lifecycle. Without seamless communication between billing, customer care, ordering and other systems, operators face a roadblock of meeting their new IPTV business objectives. Operators cannot overlook the importance of billing accuracy across all available services in the convergent world.

Billing for multi-channel video services requires technologies that support usage- and event-based billing, as well as flat rate subscription billing. It should also provide a full range of discounting options such as new customer introductory offers and incentives for existing subscribers, as well as a full range of payment options such as prepaid, pay now and postpaid. Cross product packaging and bundling capabilities are particularly important to promote the additional services of voice and data.

By implementing one billing system, operators can obtain a "single source of truth," providing a plethora of customer information and management capabilities, lowering cost of ownership and enabling the effective discounting and bundling of services, as well as clearly displaying all these services on one bill.

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