Telecom Billing – The telecommunications sector is embracing digital transformation as a means of keeping pace with the digital economy and acquiring AI-powered technologies. The notion of achieving coalescence with the most recent iterations of networks (such as 3G, 4G, or even more advanced ones) In due course, there will be incorporation of AI, quantum, and other developing technologies.
The forthcoming convergence will revolutionize the manner in which subscribers engage with the industry. This post is intended for deliberation, and readers are welcome to express their thoughts, opinions, or recommendations.
Telecom Billing Systems
In the past, billing systems were primitive and operated offline, which meant that charges could only be applied after the fact, leading to significant losses in revenue. Due to these downsides, there was a significant surge in the desire for charging systems that were clever, original, and revolutionary. The players were rescued by the implementation of Intelligent Network Billing System (INBS) technology.
As intended, perform operations as anticipated by verifying account balances prior to authorizing use of any available services. Ensuring the continuity of service and handling service termination in cases of depleted account balances are not the primary responsibilities of IN. There was still a requirement for comprehensive change while minimizing expenses and avoiding significant impacts on the business. There were two crucial queries they had to address:
- How to maintain lost costs and classic systems at hand
- Why and how do they benefit from digital transformation?
System transformation in the BSS (Business Support Systems) domain for billing, CRM, and order management led to the birth of a whole new system. OCS (online charging system) came in as an omnichannel system. The increase in chargeable services gave rise to online charging systems, which separated charging capabilities from network capabilities. This empowered MNOs with revenue collection as well as service rollout efficiencies.
Hot billing  -> IN -> OCS -> CvBS -> NCS [coming soon]
In today’s fast-paced world, having innovative services and real-time capabilities is essential for optimizing revenue. By implementing real-time convergent charging, it becomes possible to promote service innovation and have effective control over debt exposure for an array of partner services. Additionally, it enables the ability to rate and bill these partners. Today, any reputable MNO or MVN must possess both online and offline charging capacities. The integration of machine learning and data science methods enhances its utility and profitability.
Prepaid Services & Convergence
For instant service approval, pricing, and balance control, prepaid services perpetually require online charging. This online charging architecture can be utilized by postpaid services to introduce new service offerings. Taking advantage of the enormous opportunities available today may present difficulties.
The intelligence of telecom users is on the rise, and it’s not just limited to their mobile devices. As customers’ expectations increase, the market is seeing an influx of fresh entrants. In order to thrive in this setting, operators must not only maintain their existing support but also expand their role within the emerging value chain to cultivate a devoted customer base. Incorporating innovative combination services that utilize the investment and infrastructure developed over time.
Mobile users can now enjoy a variety of services, including Mobile Money, a converged or hybrid billing plan, Mobile Banking, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Trading, and the option to pay for information received on their phone.
The Evolution of Billing Systems
The converged system enables centralized management of customer perspectives and a product catalog that is organized hierarchically. It also offers flexible pricing options that can be customized, as well as freely assorted primary and sub-accounts. Furthermore, it assists with marketing, customer care, and the development of new businesses.
The OCS system allows operators to conveniently switch between pre-paid and post-paid plans, customize service bundles, and offer varying tariff packages to cater to diverse customer groups. This offers operators a broader range of promotional strategies to explore for market growth.
The latest charging solutions have remarkable and enhanced benefits that appeal to customers and minimize the rate at which customers abandon their service. As a result, customer loyalty substantially improves, which leads to the proper growth and development of the telecommunications industry. The billing system is designed to bring different services together and allow customers to use them efficiently. Additionally, the flexible pricing options cater to the diverse needs of customers.
Although convergence billing and split OCS architecture offer advantages to the operator, there may be complications in implementing business rules, especially when giving freebies like airtime, data, and SMS. This could result in reduced flexibility.
Convergent billing systems consist of various modules that handle prepaid and postpaid charging, as well as interconnect billing, within a unified system such as the OCS system. The current requirement is to integrate additional modules that can support mobile financial services, even though 3GGP has yet to specify or approve such integration on OCS.
Convergent Billing Needs
A basis for service convergence is established with the implementation of both event-based and session-based charging within the OCS. This fulfills the charging conditions for voice and data services, as well as for the underlying components and software layers. The billing system for charging networks is progressing towards a convergent model, replacing traditional postpaid BOSS and prepaid IN setups. The OCS rating engine is the foundation of this procedure, with the assistance of Re reference points to aid in the implementation of the rating engine and meet the demands for developing new services.
The convergent billing system is crucial for streamlining data management and coordination, making it the most significant source of customer data. The OCS gathers the top methods for arranging the billing information for both customers and services, as it is crucial in managing the intricate data stream related to online charging. Various charging modes are available and can be combined, such as instant charging for postpaid or prepaid services and charging for prepaid services.
Two different interfaces, Ro and CAP for online charging and Rf for offline charging, facilitate communication between NEs and charging systems. Postpaid and prepaid describe how a user pays for their account based on their balance and payment activity. Due to this, ideas centered around user experience, such as The different payment methods, such as prepaid, postpaid, near-real-time, and real-time, can easily be adapted to network-based ideas such as online and offline charging.
One can easily maintain and configure the system through a web portal, which also allows for integration with various external systems like CRM and billing. The billing systems BOSS and IN, which used to be separate systems where customers were either billed based on their usage or prepaid for their usage, are now being combined into a single convergent billing system.
Telecom Billing System
Operators have extended their money distribution services to roadside kiosks, which now facilitate the trading of real money in addition to airtime and airtime vouchers. These kiosks also serve as cash-in and cash-out agents and offer other goods such as water and cigarettes. Achieving this goal necessitates the provision of exceptional service quality, which involves providing a steady flow of innovative, cutting-edge services backed by robust, superior, and entirely adaptable systems that can be launched quickly.
This allows for an almost real-time rollout of new services and perfect execution.
Online Charging Systems – Must have Capabilities
- Real-time charging.
- Data charging.
- Modular, robust and scalable architecture.
- Flexible & Configurable Tariff & Services.
The OCS can enhance its capabilities by extending its functionality to include managing account balances. The integration of BOSS and IN can lead to further advancement of OCS, which can act as a pivotal point for the two systems. These denote expedient methods for creating a billing system that is focused on bringing together diverse elements. The convergent billing system is optimized for different types of customers and services geared towards meeting user needs, with the data being structured accordingly.
From Charging System to Charging Network
In convergent billing, charging technologies are going to be “network charging” as opposed to “charging systems.”Charging System”. Network Charging is capable of being deployed as a standalone application or offering a foundation and evolution path for more business requirements such as billing, invoicing, billing time discounts, or re-rating, using the productive integration with Billing and Revenue Management. There are IMS network charging systems and methods available. The method includes:
- When a special charging identifier that indicates charging processing is not present in the charging request received from a network element (NE), the charging entity adds a special charging identifier to the charging response sent to the NE based on the charging policy.
- If a special charging identifier is present in the charging response, the NE adds the special charging identifier to the service request sent to the subsequent NE or to the service response sent to the previous NE.
- When a special charging identifier is present, the subsequent NE and the previous NE determine whether to send a charging request to the corresponding charging entity based on the special charging identifier and the charging policy and add the special charging identifier to the service request sent to the subsequent NE or the service response sent to the previous NE.
Once the relevant charging entity detects the presence of a specific charging identifier, it evaluates whether to proceed with charging by taking into account both the identified charging identifier and the applicable charging regulations. As a result, the need for the user to pay for the service multiple times is eliminated.
With the implementation of the newer version of OCS, the combined solution allowed for effective control of information flow and avenues to generate income by offering tailored standards of service.
The policy and charging solution are powered by customer information and made possible by a common subscriber profile database located within the online charging system. The support network initially included the charging system, which served as a foundation for networks or services. Thus, it can be seen as a supportive platform.
The charging process cannot be fully accomplished by the charging system in a merged setup. The emergence of new charging needs often serves as a driving force for various network advancements.
Food For Thought
It is now the appropriate moment to incorporate additional components that are important for upcoming prospects in order to redefine and reshape the concept of convergence. My current thinking is influenced by both online research and my professional experience spanning the past ten years.
Books + Other readings Referred
- Open Internet
- Hands on personal research work @AILabPage
Conclusion – The solution to this cannot be determined without a comprehensive examination of the entire architecture. Allow us to initiate a conversation regarding this matter and develop some knowledge and ideas regarding it. Until now, the telecommunications sector has experienced astonishing triumphs by utilizing the OCS for commercial purposes. The OCS is being incorporated into the networks of operators across Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Africa, with a growing number showing a favorable reception towards the product.
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