Real Time Charging

Real Time Charging

Real Time Charging is an extension of call accounting that enables Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to create and deploy customer-specific rules for rating, discounting, promotions and settlements to better personalize the telecom experience. As CSPs begin to roll-out advanced networks and services, offering and making money on these services requires the ability to do real-time charging [ [ Telcordia Diameter Charging, Telephony] ] .

Real Time Charging came into existence to serve the needs of pre-paid wireless carriers as they sought to enter market segments where the traditional subscription model was no longer applicable, Pre-paid offers required instant evaluation of both the cost and the ability to pay for a telecommunications service, followed by in-call decrementing of the balance. These real-time attributes began to be demanded for service offers other than pre-paid. For instance, to create a spend limit in a post-paid account the account balance must be continuously monitored to detect when the limit is reached and take the appropriate action e.g suspend calling or send a warning SMS.

To achieve this, CSPs are replacing or augmenting their existing, offline billing systems with real-time systems, that are capable of supporting pre-paid and post-paid services, as well as wired services [ [ Unsexy Beast: How to Profit From Converged Mobile Billing, Unstrung] ] [ [ Telcordia Diameter Charging, Telephony] ] . In the process, these real-time systems are creating new revenue opportunities for CSPs [ [ Real Time Charging Outlook, OSS Observer, November 2007] ] .

Real Time Charging systems are part of the telecom industry trend toward convergence. For example, CSPs that offer triple play and quadruple play packages can use real-time systems to charge for services that span disparate networks and technologies, such as wireline, wireless, circuit-switched and Internet Protocol (IP).

Transforming Subscriber Experiences

CSPs are using real-time charging to create customer-centric charging models based on lifestyle, profession, age, interests or other segmentation by creating packages with virtually any mix of video, fixed voice, high-speed Internet, and mobile services to boost usage, loyalty, and market share. Examples of this include:

* Offering affinity charging plans and promotions based on any group relationships, like businesses, clubs, and families;
* Sweetening plans with volume discounts, cross-product promotions, and bundles — like free movies or music downloads for loyal users of any service;
* Setting easy-to-understand fees for services or content;
* Enabling simultaneous use of services;
* Offering hybrid prepaid/postpaid accounts;
* Charging by subscription, time, usage, or content type; and
* Triggering features, discounts, and plans in real time based on usage.

Real Time Charging Market

Analysts predict strong sales of real-time charging products over the next several years, with the worldwide market expected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2007 to more than $4.4 billion in 2012 [ [ Real Time Charging Outlook, OSS Observer, November 2007] ] .

Top market players include Telcordia, Ericsson, HP and Nokia Siemens Networks, according to OSS Observer.


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