Convergent charging and VOIP
Convergent charging (also known as convergent charging, converged charging and convergent billing), is a solution in the telecommunications industry that enables common management of all users and all services for operators. It includes convergence of payment methods like prepaid and postpaid, as well as access methods and services like fixed and VOIP telephony national and international, mobile telephony, data, sms.
Characteristics attributed to a convergent charging & billing system include support for multiple service types such as voice, data, multimedia and content, support for bundling of services and the ability to create a single bill and statement for all communications services including fixed and mobile services.
A converged charging system is described as having the ability to control services and manage balances in real-time. This includes, for example, authenticating the subscriber and checking the account balance before service delivery to the end user. A converged charging system can also notify users when the account balance threshold set by the operator is reached, or terminate service connectivity when real-time charging indicates that credit has been depleted.This real-time capability can be used to deliver promotions and notifications to service users to stimulate usage.
The need for convergent charging & billing has been partly explained by consolidation within the communications industry, the launch of new multimedia services and the increasing emergence of multi-play service offerings on mobile networks.
A number of motivations have been suggested to explain why mobile telecoms providers use convergent charging & billing. One is the ability to offer mobile service packages that include both pre- and post-paid services. Another is a sustained drop in Operating Expenditure thanks to reduced billing system complexity, since operators run a single billing platform rather than multiple ones.
The telecoms and software consulting firm Ovum has said that convergent charging can greatly reduce revenue leakage. Swedish telecoms supplier Ericsson has stated that convergent charging & billing can increase marketing flexibility for operators and create revenue growth. Telecommunications software provider Tribess has said that convergent billing allows operators to launch targeted promotions quickly and deliver an improved subscriber experience. Convergent charging & billing has been credited with reduction of OPEX.
Challenges of VOIP billing
- Retail Billing, Reseller, Wholesale Billing - National and International
- Network Traffic Management
- Fast adpotation of new services/packages: Data, Voice SMS, Video
- Challenges to the introduction of convergent charging & billing include migration from existing billing systems for an incumbent telecoms operator.