With 100 million LTE subscribers in 2012 and 381 operators currently investing in LTE (including 234 commercial launches) in 114 countries (source: GSA), LTE has been growing much faster than predicted, driving increases in volume, complexity, and use cases. For both 3G and LTE operators to maximize revenue, it’s paramount to have in place the right revenue-generating infrastructure in order to innovate and make the most of LTE speeds. This is important as a recent survey by Informa Telecom has clearly shown that LTE itself is not expected to create new revenue streams. It means for many operators, evolving legacy Intelligent Network (IN) pre-paid charging and post-paid billing infrastructures as they were originally designed for simple voice transactions; typically, they lack the strong real-time capabilities and flexibility required to effectively monetize high speed data. These infrastructure limitations combined with their distributed nature directly affect operators’ ability to quickly and cost effectively create innovative services and provide a seamless revenue-generating experience to customers. In other words, operators need to review current IN charging and billing infrastructures which are inherently inadequate for their most lucrative and soon only source of revenue – as everything becomes data. To build the foundation for LTE revenue and more effectively monetize the rising demand for high speed data, operators need a flexible infrastructure that enables them to easily create innovative services, achieve faster time to market, improve cost efficiency, and provide a personalised customer experience that stimulates loyalty and spend. Below the five key pillars of such an infrastructure: 1. The Central Pillar of High Speed Data Monetization: Real-time Charging In the era of high speed data, increasing competition, and ever demanding customers who want it all now, real time charging is truly not optional. It is not only a necessity but also an opportunity to create more revenue streams from both prepaid and post-paid customers. A recent survey by Informa Telecom sponsored by Openet showed that most operators (90%) agree with this statement but only 20% of them had real-time capabilities in place for their post-paid customers. 2. Enabling Context-Sensitive Offers and Voice over LTE (VoLTE): Policy Controls Integrated with Charging (PCC) To effectively monetize the rise of high speed data, operators need to be able to create more innovative, value-based services that can be offered at the right time to the right person. PCC enables this, powering new business models such as QoS based services, application specific pricing, shared data plans; and dynamic offers that take into account the customer context in real time (e.g. usage, location, time, personal information). Furthermore, to deliver high quality VoLTE services, PCC is required to dynamically manage unpredictable mobile resources while ensuring charges are based on voice call rates rather than data consumption. 3. Understanding Customer Behaviour and Context: Real-Time Intelligence The first step in enabling dynamic services is to understand customer behaviours and context by collecting usage data through on-line mediation. Traditionally customer usage information is collected by mediation, passed to charging/billing and then sent to a batch-based data warehouse for use in planning and forecasting. However, to make context-sensitive marketing and up-sell offers, customer intelligence on mobile data usage and behaviour needs to be real-time. 4. Stimulating Loyalty and Spend: Extending Policy and Charging Controls to the Device Subscribers crave for freedom and control over their services/budget. This is key to keeping them loyal and making them feel comfortable to spend on data services. Being able to communicate context-sensitive offers, providing customers the freedom to purchase and activate services at their own convenience, then giving them real-time visibility over their usage/spend – all directly on the device – create unprecedented customer satisfaction. Furthermore this can also reduce customer care costs for operators with less bill-shock complaints and more self-care. 5. Delivering Real-Time Charging Foundation: Convergence and Ease of Interoperability Convergence is fundamental to fast time to market but also to enabling more flexible business models and a seamless customer experience. With an evolved charging platform that allows services to be delivered to all customers over different networks, operators will finally break down the legacy infrastructure silos whether pre-paid/post-paid, data/voice, or fixed/mobile. This means more flexible bundles and also a unified view of all services – to provide full real-time visibility to customers and better customer care. This also means reduced total cost of ownership with a single solution that enables all service launches. However, the prospect of completely eliminating legacy infrastructures may seem daunting for some operators who can then enjoy the flexibility to simply add real-time charging capabilities to existing infrastructures with minimum disruption. Many operators have already taken steps to evolve their IN charging and billing infrastructures in order to have the foundation in place to really profit from the rise of high speed data / LTE, building a revenue-generating infrastructure based on convergent real-time charging.
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