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David Williams
Global Director of Sales, Research
David Williams
Global Director of Sales, Research
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Unsexy Beast: How to Profit From Converged Mobile Billing
Network technologies such as WiMax, WiFi, and 3G may get more attention, but wireless billing is at least as important to mobile network operators, because these systems will underpin all next-gen wireless services, regardless of which infrastructure technologies are deployed. Billing systems encompass a variety of tasks, including rating, charging, and mediation, and they continue to evolve from back-office products into marketing tools.

This is particularly true in markets such as many Western European countries where wireless penetration is north of 80 percent, making competition cutthroat. Wireless carriers in these regions are turning to promotions, service bundles, and loyalty programs to attract and retain customers, and cutting-edge billing systems are needed to flexibly deploy these offerings.

The billing system's role is to communicate with network elements such as SMS centers and databases to carry out a range of marketing-oriented tasks, such as:

Determining that a heavy user of SMS should receive a promo for new data services
Identifying calls between a wireless carrier and its wireline partner's VOIP phones and exempting them from airtime charges
Tracking the use of certain services to create a tally of points that customers may redeem for exclusive items, such as carrier-branded merchandise
Supporting family plans in which the parents' post-paid account covers voice calls, while the kids have separate, pre-paid balances for text messages and song downloads

These are just a few examples of how wireless carriers worldwide are now using billing to support market-differentiating offers, which help carriers reduce churn, increase net adds, and increase ARPU metrics that investors monitor closely. These billing-enabled strategies also help the bottom line by reducing the need to compete on price alone.

Billing systems are emerging as a major factor in wireless carriers' competitive positioning, both now and over the long term. The wireless billing sector is in the midst of significant change, including a shift from offline to real-time to online billing, the gradual replacement of separate pre-paid and post-paid billing systems with converged billing platforms, and a growing preference for billing systems that operators can configure themselves to respond quickly to changing competitive conditions.

This report identifies and analyzes the key technology changes that are affecting mobile billing systems, as well as the impact of those changes on mobile operator service and marketing strategies. The report provides examples of how mobile network operators are already using converged billing systems to create profitable new services, and it points to a range of service applications likely to develop in coming months and years. The technology changes that underlie the move to converged mobile billing are detailed and analyzed. The report also includes profiles of key billing technology providers, offering insight into which companies are best positioned to emerge as next-gen mobile billing sources.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (uni0807_toc.pdf)
Bundled services are increasingly critical to wireless and fixed/mobile convergence service offerings. The table below summarizes selected loyalty programs from operators around the world:
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
As OSS/BSS vendors are looking can quickly add product features, expertise, and service provider relationships instead of devoting time and resources to developing them in-house, and the is no exception. The table below summarizes key transactions in this rapidly consolidating sector:
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: Acision BV; Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX); Comptel Corp. (Helsinki: CTL); Comverse Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: CMVT); Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); Formula Telecom Solutions, Ltd. (LSE: FTS); Martin Dawes Systems Ltd.; MIND CTI Ltd. (Nasdaq: MNDO); Openet Telecom Inc.; Telcordia Technologies Inc.; and Valista Ltd.
Total pages: 16
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