By Ben Bannister, Product Marketing Director
The relationship between interconnect billing and roaming processes is likely to become much more closely aligned, as requirements for interconnectivity, interoperability and settlement converge to create unified processes, enabling exchanges of service validation, delivery and billing information between CSPs and across technologies. This requirement extends to encompass the processing and handling of all financial obligations between parties, for interconnect billing, roaming and content traffic. This is an exciting development which aligns interconnect and content settlement and moves these processes towards a much more dynamic hub-based exchange model that is closer to existing roaming hub models. Effectively, this presents CSPs with a Cloud-based alternative to expensive software-based wholesale management and settlement platforms.
In the same way that a roaming hub connects multiple operators, removing the need for multiple bi-lateral agreements, so this model can be extended to incorporate interconnect billing. A roaming and interconnection hub would combine real-time routing with steering of roaming for dynamic trading and routing, so combining roaming traffic with interconnect routing decisions. The power of such a model is further enhanced through the integration of a number portability database, ensuring that domestic number portability is automatically aligned with roaming activity and the needs of mobile messaging.
Using this hub-based service model, an individual operator can benefit from the cost advantages associated with applying a cloud-based, managed service model, specifically CAPEX reduction and resource allocation. When this idea is applied at an operating group level, the cloud-based, managed service approach multiplies the benefits. With traditional software licensing approaches, multiple software licenses are required for each operating member of a group. The costs are not only higher but this model limits other economies of scale and restricts new opportunities. In a hub exchange model, complete consolidation of data is enabled, providing for new levels of control and aggregated intelligence, as well as introducing new business models where group power can be applied to its full extent.
Such a vision enables more, rather than less, CSP agility. It clearly supports the lean operator concept, helping to identify the core essence of a CSP’s business, and using external resources to support complementary wholesale partner management processes. This presents a model for individual CSPs and operating groups alike, as they develop their Cloud and SaaS information systems strategies. As roaming and interconnect billing converge, the real opportunity for CSPs lies in a consideration of the managed service model. Why manage multiple wholesale partner systems, when the processes they support can be managed for you? Why maintain multiple, costly in-house systems when you can enjoy the economies of scale and expertise of a specialist managed service provider? The evolution towards a comprehensive wholesale partner management model, delivered across the Cloud, makes sense in terms of cost, organizational effectiveness and control.