At CSPs around the world, money is literally slipping through the cracks, bit by bit. Why? Because mobile data usage has evolved much faster than the models used to charge and bill for it.
In the early days of mobile, billing systems charged for minutes and messages—there wasn't much more available. Now, there are few data services that aren't mobile, and it's not just how consumers use their devices, but where. As we uncovered last month, consumers are on their smart devices from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed, and even in bed.
If we look at the two top mobile platforms for smartphones (which consume the heaviest amount of data and incur the most billable charges), we see the sheer volume of data-hungry devices coming online daily. On the Android platform, which has a predominant market share, over 700,000 Android devices are activated daily. For Apple, the number is around 250,000 devices daily.
Video is consuming the lion's share of mobile data, and the trend will continue. Take a look at mobile data consumption patterns in figure 1.
On top of these challenges, consumers desire much greater levels of personalization and customization, and legislation has passed in several countries that require CSPs to notify customers as they approach plan limits.
Plainly put, mobile billing ain't what it used to be.
Carriers must rapidly adapt to this changing landscape or risk losing the precious revenue they need to remain competitive. In this article, we'll look at how the challenges surrounding mobile billing have grown, and pick apart the three most prevalent billing models in search of the best solution. We'll also look at pre-paid billing, and how CSPs are leveraging policy control and other tools to improve transparency and avoid bill shock.
A Challenging Proposition
CSPs face serious challenges in mobile billing today. They must rapidly create models that generate value from mobile broadband, and they must meet flexibility and customization demands.
Monica L. Ricci, Director, Product Marketing, CSG International, summed up the billing dilemma: “The single biggest billing challenge facing mobile operators around the world today is rapidly adapting to change. The specific changes that must be adopted vary significantly depending upon the market conditions of each operator.”