More than three quarters of mobile operators do not have real-time data available in their billing systems even though 88 per cent of operators believe it to be essential to the future of mobile data billing. The discrepancy emerged from an industry survey of more than 200 mobile operators carried out by Telecoms.com Intelligence, in association with Openet.
How to price and bill for data services is arguably the most pressing issue facing mobile operators today, as revenue per bit continues to come under pressure, despite the cost efficiencies provided by the industry’s gradual move to LTE.
Innovations such as shared data plans and contextual short-term service upgrades—such as the “turbo button” planned by Verizon Wireless—will be increasingly important to operators as they look to monetise mobile data. But the network controls required to implement these kind of services are dependant on the availability of real-time data.
The survey—The Future Of Mobile data billing—found that 94 per cent of operators believe the availability of real-time data to be important or very important for operators looking to apply network controls and notifications. For a range of services and billing models about which operators were asked, real-time data was given a high importance rating.
But just 22 per cent of operators surveyed currently have a post-paid billing system that provides real-time data collection and rating, suggesting that widespread upgrades are necessary.
But according to Openet’s VP of marketing, Chris Hoover, this does not mean wholesale swap-outs of billing systems. “Operators don’t need to rip and replace existing systems,” Hoover said. “they can take real-time data feeds from advanced collection and charging systems, and enable their legacy billing investments to integrate with real-time functions such as policy management and advanced customer care and marketing.”
The survey also revealed that operators believe the delivery of bills directly to smartphones offers far greater opportunity for upsell and convenience, with almost 80 per cent of respondents saying they believe this model to be the ideal means of bill delivery.
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Telecoms.com Intelligence is the industry research arm of Telecoms.com