What’s So Complex about Telco Billing?


As a product director in the telecom billing space for more than a decade, I see more and more companies offering general billing solutions with the intention of addressing every billing challenge out there. After all, how complex is it to issue an invoice to your customer?

But there is a reason they say “if you try to serve everyone, you end up serving no one.”

Since companies need to differentiate themselves in order to gain market share, the billing system is critical and is the heart of revenue generation. That means that your billing provider needs to have a deep understanding of your specific needs and that in order to maintain market share, you need to act quickly to changes, thus the billing solution needs to be flexible and configurable.

There’s a Billing System Out There for Every Business Model

Different business models have different needs, and therefore require different billing solutions to support their operations.

For example:

  • If you run eCommerce sites, you need a transaction-based billing suit that enables the execution of every monetary transaction. The advanced deployment for eCommerce billing solutions would involve integrating with a CRM system and provide a 360° view of all consumer purchases and history, enabling upsells based on consumer profiles.
  • If you sell subscriptions – like SaaS and media companies do – you have a (hopefully) never-ending relationship with your customers, and need a billing solution that specializes in recurring billing.

Why it’s Important to Integrate an Industry-Specific Billing System

Some billing solutions can be quite enticing because their integration is very fast compared to the industry – you give your provider a few weeks or months and you’re good to go. That’s where all the generalistic billing provider thrive.

Working with them is usually a good solution for companies that don’t need complex systems. You get a billing system as is and the implementation is fairly straightforward and uncomplicated.

But that’s not the case for the Telco industry.

Telco business models are different and more complex than those of many other industries. Marketing managers have grown creative in finding ways to present easier billing for end customers; however, their creative offerings require complex activities in the Telco billing system’s back end.

For example, a cellular operator can offer a plan of free national call text messages and 1 GB data for $49/month.

It looks simple on the surface, but this operator’s billing solution still needs to track and monitor the balance in real time, as international calls need to be tagged and charged separately. The same goes for roaming calls or data.

In addition, not only does the Telco billing system need to send alerts to subscribers, reaching a percentage of their plan units, but it also activates and deactivates subscribers from specific services or all services, thus complicating the process.

Therefore, even though it looks like a simple recurring billing model for $49/month, the reality is way more complex for Telcos.

But it doesn’t have to be this complex. Things get so much easier when you work with a provider that specializes in your industry and can deploy a customized solution that supports your exact business needs.

Make the Best Choice for You

At the end of the day, generalistic billing providers serve a segment of the market that has basic billing needs, saving them some money. But if you are in the telecommunication industry, trying to adjust your unique operations to somebody else’s formula might end up costing you a lot more revenue in the long run. Sometimes the less expensive way turns out to be just the opposite.

Rani Ron
Director Product Management


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