By Ben Bannister, Product Marketing Manager
For mobile network operators (MNOs), the mobile roaming environment is defined by increasing complexity and ever decreasing margins. To manage this difficult environment requires more comprehensive information with which to manage wholesale processes, more process automation to reduce administrative overheads, and more flexibility to be able to anticipate and deal with market changes.
So what exactly is required to manage wholesale roaming processes more effectively, as wholesale margins come under increasing pressure? The starting point has to be access to accurate and timely business intelligence, from which to identify roaming usage patterns and from there develop active IOT negotiation strategies. This requires information not just about traffic volumes and patterns, but also about the type of traffic being exchanged (Voice, Data, Video, VoIP etc.) as well as the type of usage devices being employed, identifiable from IMEI codes. Such information can provide insights into Blackberry usage, Apple iPhone and iPad usage, general Smartphone usage, not just in terms of how much, but what sort of usage is taking place – an invaluable starting point for IOT negotiations and management.
In addition to accurate business intelligence, there are two other components associated with a successful wholesale roaming strategy. The first is an assessment of business process integration. The integration of data clearing and financial settlement is an important consideration for enhanced ‘CDR-to-Cash’ process optimization. But there are also issues of wholesale revenue assurance to be considered. If wholesale margins are under pressure, it is important to squeeze as much revenue from wholesale processes as possible. This can be accomplished with options to integrate roaming call optimization, fraud protection, IOT checks, traffic control and reconciliation between TAP/NRTRDE records, or Interconnect CDRs/TAP records, as and when appropriate to ensure minimal loss of revenue and margin.
In addition to seamless business process integration, the second consideration for successful wholesale roaming management relates to the efficiency and effectiveness of the IOT management processes. This starts with the TAP creation process and extends through TAP/RAP processing to include efficient re-rating and IOT discount management during financial clearing. Improved efficiency in these areas delivers flexibility and speed of IOT implementation, delivering faster time to market. More revenue and better margin management accrues from more effective IOT management processes.
What benefits accrue to MNOs through a renewed focus on their wholesale roaming processes? The first thing is improved roaming business efficiency. Using the sort of detailed business intelligence, described above, to help in both IOT negotiation and management, MNOs can ensure a better understanding of their wholesale roaming environment, hence ensuring a more effective and efficient negotiation and management process. The most visible measurement associated with this is of course increased roaming margins and roaming revenue, not just through improved knowledge for IOT negotiations, but also through the revenue assurance related activities, including IOT checks, formalized discount management, fraud control and wholesale process reconciliation (TAP/NRTRDE reconciliation, Interconnect CDR/TAP reconciliation etc). Finally, better aligned and integrated data clearing and financial settlement processes provide improved cash-flow – the life blood of any business.