The communications channel is frequently disrupted by new technologies, changing market trends, regulatory changes and emerging opportunities. Crucial to capitalising on change, is a flexible and robust billing system that’s continuously onward developed to keep step with the market. Here we take a look at the top three trends that are shaping the evolution of telecom billing software.
The Top Three Trends in Telecom Billing
1. CLOUD, SAAS AND INTEGRATION
Perhaps the most obvious trend is the gradual shift from billing software that’s deployed as a traditional desktop application and hosted on a communication provider’s (CP) own hardware, to web-based applications hosted in the cloud. This offers many benefits for CPs including increased mobility, high availability and robust disaster recovery. It also removes the need to purchase expensive hardware and pay for ongoing maintenance of the platform’s environment.
Not only is this a step change in the way that users access billing software, it’s also facilitated greater integration with other back-office solutions. This is largely made possible because the development of comprehensive APIs is a prerequisite for the development of web-based software.
This has opened up many possibilities for integration and CPs quite rightly expect their billing software to fit into an integrated back office. Virtually every new partner we deal with requires some level of integration between aBILLity and other operational support systems (OSS) they might be using.
This is why we’ve put a huge focus into developing our APIs and complementary resources such as documentation, sandbox environments and consultancy services. This enable CPs to develop integrations for our aBILLity billing platform with complete freedom and according to their precise needs.
2. MOVE TO SIP, HOSTED AND CONVERGENCE
The impending closure of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the inevitable move to SIP based telephony, is a game changer for the whole communications industry. Due to the ‘all-you-can-eat’ nature of services such as SIP, it’s only natural that over the coming years we will see a greater shift towards bundles and subscription-based contracts. This change, coupled with the increased pressure on margins that SIP telephony brings with it, will make it even more important for billing platforms to provide comprehensive reporting to identify unprofitable customers and services.
3. EXPECTATION AND AVAILABILITY OF DATA
Over the past decade we’ve moved from monthly CDRs, to daily, then hourly. As technology matures, the provision of real time (or as near as possible) call data records (CDRs), is increasingly possible. As illustrated by the recent introduction of mobile bill limits, there is a huge need and expectation for real-time data to be made available.
This demand comes from multiple links in the supply chain and from end-user customers themselves. The end-user customer wants self-service access to real time data in order to protect themselves from unexpected costs. At the same time, customers want and expect proactive support and protection to be provided by their CP, so CPs need the facility to spot high cost calls and occurrences of fraud.
Billing platforms are key to the smooth processing, rating, analysis and transfer of data from carrier to CP to end-user. Union Street’s aBILLity™ platform facilitates this through the automated import and rating of CDRs. aBILLity also features automated export routines for wholesale suppliers that need to provide CDRs to their channel partners. Automating this process ensures a smooth and rapid flow of data that CPs can rely on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.