Billing Systems – The essential functions of a charging and billing system for a mobile network operator involve verifying a subscriber’s identity from both internal and external sources, administering subscription packages, completing charging and billing tasks, and facilitating adaptable pricing plans for all offered services.
This is the second piece of writing in a series about the development of charging and billing system charging and billing system evolution. The purpose of this post is to facilitate a conversation and knowledge exchange. Any inquiries, responses, recommendations, or feedback aimed at enhancing this post are highly appreciated.
Spectroscopy of Telecom Charging and Billing System
How billing systems took shape time after time. Telecom subscribers are getting smarter (so it’s not only the handset that is getting smarter!), demanding more and more with less cost. At the same time, many new players are entering the marketplace. To compete in this environment, operators have to maintain and grow their part of the new value chain to gain loyal customers. Adding new blended services to ride on infrastructure, i.e., investments made during all those times, is the prime goal.
In today’s rapidly changing environment, service innovation and real-time capabilities are critical to maximizing revenue. Real-time convergent charging enables service innovation, allied to real-time control of debt exposure for more partner services and the ability to rate and bill on behalf of partners. Online and offline charging are integral capabilities of any MNO or MVN. Prepaid services always require online charging for real-time service authorization, rating, and balance management.
Postpaid services can use this online charging architecture for new service offerings. However, capitalizing on today’s tremendous opportunities can be challenging.
The convergent system has centralized management of customer view, a hierarchically stored product catalog, flexible customized pricing options, freely assorted sub- and primary accounts, and facilitates and assures marketing, customer care, and new business development. OCS enables easy shifting between pre-paid and post-paid, flexible service bundles, and tariff packages aimed at different groups of customers that provide more promotion methods for the operators to exploit the market.
New Generation Billing Solution
It would be very interesting to see how these billing systems will evolve in the future when we have 4G, 5G, and 6G (2030) or even beyond. Whatever it would be, billing would still remain a vital aspect of these new developments and changes. Without billing, this whole thing will fail, as it’s a crucial function for any business.
The convergent and unified billing system enables customers to use all services at a time, and the customized price bundle caters well to customer needs at different levels.
This new generation of charging solutions greatly attracts customers through its distinguished and improved benefits and reduces the customer churn ratio, thus greatly enhancing customer loyalty and experience. After all these measures, telecom market expansion can head north, i.e., on the right track.
In 4G and above networks, the charging and billing processes will get super simplified for mobile data service providers. In 6G, I am not sure what will happen, as this will combine its power with quantum computers, artificial intelligence, and big data.
Billing Systems – Journey
1990: The traditional offline charging system, which only collects charging information after a service is rendered, is unable to prevent the huge revenue loss caused by service overdraft.
2000: The IN-based prepaid system authenticates the user’s identity and checks the account balance before giving authorization to use the relative service; immediately deducts related fees from the user account; and terminates the service upon expiration of the user’s account balance.
2007: The OCS provides unified online charging functions separated from all network elements (NEs) such as service control points (SCP), short message service (SMSC), and multimedia message service centers (MMSC).
2010: “Convergent billing is the integration of all service charges onto a single customer invoice and a unified view of the customer. A customer should call a call center and get complete account information for all the services opted for. The customer receives a single bill and makes a single payment for all the services.
2020: Very likely, we will see a network charging system with too much artificial intelligence and data science capabilities. Evolution from charging system to charging network There is an IMS network charging system and a method. 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),
NE Charging & Billing
The charging entity adds a special charging identifier to the charging response sent to the NE based on the charging policy. When a special charging identifier is present in the charging response, the NE adds the special charging identifier to the service request. Thereafter, this is 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.
By adding the special charging identifier to the service request sent to the subsequent NE or the service response sent to the previous NE, and after the corresponding charging entity identifies that a special charging identifier is present, it determines whether to make charging processing based on the special charging identifier and the charging policy. Thus, repeated charging for the user service is avoided.
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 providing a foundation and evolution path for additional business requirements such as billing, invoicing, billing time discounts, or re-rating using the productized integration with Billing and Revenue Management. When the second-generation OCS is deployed, the combined solution provides efficient data traffic management and revenue-generating opportunities to differentiate on personalized quality of service.
The online charging system utilizes a repository of shared subscriber profiles to power an intelligent policy and billing solution that is based on customer insights. The charging system was initially a constituent of the assistance framework and can be interpreted as a bolstering base for networks or amenities. The complete charging process cannot be carried out by the charging system in a converged setting. Numerous advancements in networks are frequently triggered by alterations in charging necessities.
Points to Note:
All credits, if any, remain with the original contributor only. We have covered all the basics around data models and the importance of quality data and training data. In the next upcoming post, we will talk about implementation, usage, and practice experience for markets.
Books + Other readings Referred
- Research through open internet, news portals, white papers and imparted knowledge via live conferences & lectures.
- Lab and hands-on experience of @AILabPage (Self-taught learners group) members.
Feedback & Further Question
Do you have any questions about AI, Machine Learning, Telecom billing/charging, Data Science or Big Data Analytics? Leave a question in a comment section or ask via email. Will try best to answer it.
Conclusion: The telecom sector has experienced remarkable accomplishments by deploying the OCS for business purposes. It is impossible to provide a definite solution to what is better without conducting a thorough analysis of the entire architecture. We should engage in a dialogue regarding this topic and work together to develop some insightful perspectives. Numerous operators across diverse regions like Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Africa are adopting the OCS into their networks, with a growing number of them showing interest in the product. It is now time to incorporate future-oriented essential components into convergence in order to give it fresh form and meaning. Through a combination of personal observation from work over the past ten years and research sourced from Google, I have developed my own unique thought process.
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