At the recent CTIA Wireless event in Las Vegas a key trend was the growth of innovative pricing and billing techniques. These can both raise mobile operator profits and subscriber satisfaction in the context of Next-Generation Networks.
As more advanced services become available on next-generation networks (NGN), innovative pricing and billing models are more effective than flat-rate plans at helping operators maximise revenues and improve their subscribers' overall experience. According to at least one leading BSS/OSS vendor, Comverse, "Legacy billing systems have forced operators into an "all-you-can-eat" trend rather than sophisticated pricing models and bundling and operators are not extracting their networks' full value for themselves and their subscribers."
Operators also recognise this dilemma. A recent Yankee Group research report confirmed that most operators believe the flat-rate business model is not sustainable when providing cutting edge, value-added services.
To extract full network value, operators must have a sophisticated billing and customer management system that can support any charging model, including hybrid prepaid / post-paid models. These systems make it easier to create and modify innovative bundles of services and get them to market quickly, according to Gabriel Matsliach, General Manager of Billing and Active Customer Management at Comverse.
Matsliach also addressed the critical need for "smart" billing within IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystems). IMS enables operators to offer rich communication services such as converged messaging, visual voicemail, address book management, presence, and third-party applications, all of which potentially combine with residential and business voice, video and data.
By employing a single unified billing and active customer management system which supports any combination of services, networks and payment types operators can find the most appropriate business model and charge for the value perceived by subscribers. At the same time, the real-time marketing capabilities of the solution encourage more usage.