Is it possible to model every possible charging innovation?
As soon as the communications provider world was exposed to competition, differentiation became urgently necessary. Emerging from the static and grey world of PTT dominance, we witnessed new and exciting MVNO branding and re-branding, a revolution in customer service and a plethora of new and attractive tariffs, bundles and incentives. Well, sort of. We experienced the first two, but how the service was charged for was still very much from the old-world. First-generation BSS solutions were built to charge for call-time minutes applied to a rate table from which to derive a call cost. And that was really it. Advances (and the charging for) text messaging, circuit-switched and then packet data had to be retrofitted. Every suggestion from marketing for new tariff, bundling and incentive innovations would be wearily dismissed by billing operations as too difficult / too costly / too high risk.
In parallel, from 1G to 4G the generational evolutions profoundly changed the underlying networks. And with the advent of service convergence, it became necessary to now also charge for and incorporate a host of non-telco services ranging from digital content consumption to integrated retail loyalty programmes. But in many instances the architecture remained essentially the same – a usage record and a rate table of some sort; an amount of consumption and a corresponding rate from which to derive a cost.
Add to this the advent of 5G with its radically different Service Based Architecture and the charging challenge intensifies for human and-user and IoT consumption and events. How will the legacy Call Record and Rate Table architecture, customised again and again with each innovation, now cope?
Thankfully, in Lifecycle Software we, long ago considered this fundamental challenge; how do we charge for any possible event, any possible bundle of events, any type of consumption and any form of discount or incentive – current, future or retrospective? We dismissed all previous hard-coded assumptions about billing cycles and allowances etc and looked to a branch of mathematics normally associated with fluid-dynamics; the discipline of non-dimensional analysis.
The result was a Customer, Proposition and Rating model that has to date, supported every client innovation required by their marketing team, supported entirely by configuring and without coding. Our model has supported cash-back for unused allowance (SMARTY), retrospective discounted charging on consumption tiers, intelligent usage caps and pre-contract fraud traps. To date, everything that has been requested of us we have been able to support through configuration – not customisation. Take a look at our ALLinONE OCS product data sheet to see our versatile and innovative realtime billing solution in more detail.
The title of the article is The Theory of Everything. This is intentionally contentious as we believe we may have constructed a Theory of Everything universally applicable charging model. And if you are an operator struggling with charging and rating restrictions, there’s only one way to find out if we are right – get in touch and put us to the test!