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Technology focus > OSS and billing

Digital TV Europe September/October 2010

Sigma forsees billing complexities as con- verged services become more popular.

marketing director of payment and billing solutions provider MGt. “The single view approach is the way to go because it allows the broadcaster, to own the individual rela- tionships with viewers without having to rely on others to serve their customers. It is not a ’dig up and replace’ scenario for OSS/BSS. This functionality can be enabled via a layer of intelligent APIs that can be laid on top, interfacing with those legacy sys- tems and aggregating the data into a single view.”

A clean slate

The general consensus seems to be that it doesn’t have to be a case of out with the old and in with the new for everyone, but to remain competitive, operators need to either dump any silo-based architecture or adapt it so that it can interact with other rev- enue streams and mine them to further grow income.

The economies of scale that can be achieved, however, by opting for an entirely new system based on one common architec- ture supporting various platforms could pay back the initial investment quicker than might otherwise have been expected. Used effectively, the flexibility that a converged system can offer and its enhanced ability to react to transient market needs can give an

ancillary services are now a significant part of operators’ revenues, and accordingly CSPs are asking for convergent solutions that allow them to efficiently and effectively monetise their more diverse and expanding services portfolio. Comverse has been deliv- ering customer-centric BSS solutions to some of the leading cable and satellite providers in Europe, including to multiple Sky and UPC properties. We are currently helping Telenet in Belgium evolve from triple to quad-play, by implementing a pre- paid charging solution for mobile, VoD and IP-services. Telenet’s challenge is that they

“With a really elegant joined-up OSS and BSS ecosystem, you can start delivering cus- tomised offerings and promotions to that

consumer across multiple devices.” Stephen Petheram, MGt

instant boost to existing customer revenue streams. “Not too long ago cable and satellite oper- ators spoke of core and ancillary services. Their core billing system had a small num- ber of hard-coded subscription plans, was premises-centric and ‘sacred’. When they began to offer broadband access, VoIP or even VOD, an adjunct biller was added,” says Huffman at Comverse. “But these

had a postpaid-only BSS for video, VoIP and broadband access given their traditional cable roots. They have now decided to offer mobile and data services on a prepaid basis. To enable this business model extension, Telenet has chosen to implement our con- verged pre-paid/post-paid solution first for prepaid customers, then to later migrate their existing post paid customer base to the new converged solution.”

The long-term benefits gained by destroy- ing some of the technical and political silos that exist in companies outweigh the short- term burden this creates, says Lemoine at SAP. “At BSS level, this convergence can be tackled gradually from the financial end of the spectrum,” says Lemoine. “It is possible to use a convergent invoicing system to first create one single bill for all products sold and, as such, one stream of money to col- lect; from then on, it is possible to gradually introduce a convergent rating engine to take more and more responsibilities. This would allow real time cross-product controls and discounts. As an example, the switch from multiple billing systems to a single system allowed one Canadian cable operator to reduce the number of invoice-related calls that were made by customers to customer care agents by 25%, reduce the postage and print costs by 15% and overall reduce signif- icantly the net bad debt thanks to a common financial view and common collecting strat- egy.”

The idea of a ‘single-view’ of the customer coupled with a single bill for services is an end goal for most, and as the market is still in its infancy, video bills aren’t actually changing too much as most operators are offering TV-over-PC services at no addition- al cost. Mallon at Sigma Systems foresees this getting slightly more complicated as operators start to add a surcharge for these extra services.

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