To be successful in today's market it is vital for service providers or telecom to have the systems in place to support them. A charging system is key to this, allowing them to accurately charge and collect payment for the services provided and in turn, keep a flow of cash running through the business. That is why many of them are keen to enact upon the advantages an Online Charging System (OCS) affords them.
Before talking about the advantages of a telecom charging system it is perhaps logical to answer the question what is an OCS within the telecom industry? Simply put an OCS solution allows telecoms to successfully meter a consumer’s activity in real-time. A successful OCS solution is key to the network architecture of a telecom, allowing them to run a number of transactions through it, whilst also using it to safeguard customers and the company.
What are the advantages of an Online Charging System?
For those looking to deploy an OCS within their architecture, there are many benefits they can enjoy.
Realtime Control and Billing
The ability to have real-time control can be a real advantage for telecoms. Providers are able to offer a wider variety of services to consumers with an accurate picture of usage and billing potential. Having a real-time overview of services, rather than charging once services have been rendered, protects telecoms from any lost revenue as a result of customers being unable to pay bills. An effective OCS can however minimise this risk and allow both end users and service providers a degree of protection from unpaid or unaffordable bills.
By using this real time charging system, providers are also able to take payment for services in real-time, dramatically cutting the delays for fund transferring that can occur with other billing models. While it's always an advantage to have a better cash flow, providers can also use this flexibility and speed to create pricing packages more suitable for their target market.
Potential to Monetise
One of the greatest advantages of an OCS is the potential revenue streams telecoms can open themselves up to. OCS allows to charge any type of event-based activity like usage, including, voice, data and content. Charge for any transaction, per Gb, per minute, per message, per bundle – the options are limitless. One of these streams, which will be key in the coming months and years will be 5G. With the correct system in place service providers will be able to develop concepts such as network as a service (NaaS), private networks and Network Slicing to accurately charge users for greater use of bandwidth within their networks.
Before committing to an OCS a service provider should always check the flexibility of the system. An advantage of a good OCS is its flexibility and customisable elements. Being so flexible allows an OCS to quickly adapt to existing infrastructure and interrogate seamlessly so as not to harm customer experiences. Being able to adapt the solution quickly also allows for scalable growth, meaning companies can grow whilst minimising the risk. By deploying a flexible solution, ready to adapt to different networks and suppliers, wholesale partners can enjoy accelerated business growth and quickly build new strategies and service propositions.
Online Charging System and IoT
IoT devices and services rely on SIM cards to process and ensure connectivity. The OCS allows providers to manage and rate the traffic in real time ensuring efficiency through all the operations. The charging system facilitates provisioning and charging services for large amounts of devices, making it easy to manage device allowance and detect outliers and faulty devices promoting efficiency throughout and contributing to improve ARPU in IoT.
The Customer Experience and Marketing Potentials
Using an online charging system, service providers can offer a better customer experience, by allowing customers access to their accounts from a variety of devices they can securely check any past or upcoming payments and plan according, something which could be key with the ongoing cost of living crisis and the responsibility of telecoms to act accordingly (link). With charges being settled and the money taken almost instantly, customers can enjoy better financial control over accounts, without having to worry about money being taken in the future.
Telecoms using an online charging solution have a great potential to improve their customer's experience and provide their marketing departments with a range of new potential USPs. These can include; paying users back for unused data or minutes at the end of the monthly allowance, offering families the chance to group family members within the same plan with rewards for adding more members, giving users the chance to donate the cash generated by unused data or minutes to a charity or finally rewarding customers for with incentives for sustained loyalty. Each of these USPs will help telecoms segment and target specific areas of their target market.
Fraud Management has always been a concern for service providers, however with an OCS they can enjoy some additional advantages to help manage fraud. By setting up customised alerts to warn of suspicious patterns of usage, service providers are able to get an early warning of fraudulent behaviour and react quickly. OCS’s can also get ahead of other fraudulent behaviours like SIM cloning by analysing data sessions and detecting closely occurring sessions with the same identifier. Finally, customers can also be protected from fraud, by leveraging the real time capability to detect abnormal patterns and behaviour in real time. You can also flag any customers signing up for premium subscriptions or those calling expensive premium numbers and intervene before they rack up sizable bills.
Lifecycle's Online Charging System is futureproof, resilient and cloud-ready. The real-time functionality of the system allows providers to monetise 5G, strategies and develop digital opportunities and maximise business growth. With our microservice strategy, we can build and deploy quickly, thus enabling you to develop customer and business propositions quickly. With scalable assets, you can be confident in growing the system at a rapid scale in line with your business goals
Find out more about our Online Charing System now.