The telecommunications industry is constantly evolving. Staying current with the latest standards is crucial for mobile network operators (MNOs) to offer innovative services to their customers, maintain a competitive edge, and gain market share. The GSMA Billing & Charging Evolution (BCE) standard is one such update that has been gaining traction in the industry. BCE helps operators redefine their wholesale roaming approach in terms of how they invoice partners, clear and settle data, and facilitate financial transactions more efficiently and without friction.
For years, TAP—Transferred Account Procedures—had been the only standard for wholesale roaming and billing settlement. TAP was originally designed to support Voice and SMS, and was well-suited for handling simple billing scenarios for mobile data usage. However, with the emergence of 5G standalone and IoT, combined with the increased importance of mobile data and usage of online charging methods, the transfer of many individual records between operators has become obsolete. The TAP standard was not originally designed to accommodate the emerging billing requirements and evolving use cases. As a result, alternative solutions are needed to manage today’s wholesale billing requirements from operators.
Enter the GSMA BCE standard, which is a more flexible model capable of efficiently supporting the large amounts of billing and charging activities that IoT introduced into the mobile ecosystem. BCE’s ability to introduce new charging methods, handle and streamline the wholesale billing process, as well as effectively report and invoice for inter-operator settlements, are key attributes of this new standard.
To stay competitive (and compliant), operators need to proactively implement new technologies that can meet the demands of modern mobile platforms. By embracing the BCE standard, operators position themselves to leverage the full potential of IoT, 5G standalone, and the revenue-generating services they provide.
The GSMA BCE standard brings several benefits to the telecommunications industry and consumers.
- First, it promotes interoperability and standardization, which helps MNOs offer services across different networks and regions.
- Second, it enhances transparency and accuracy in billing and charging, thereby increasing trust between MNOs and their customers.
- Third, it enables MNOs to innovate and offer new services, such as real-time charging and personalized pricing plans.
So how does an MNO get in on the action?
Define the Opportunity
First, MNOs must realize and acknowledge that there is a massive opportunity to capture and monetize differently new traffic stemming from IoT. Think of when data roaming first surfaced, or when Customized Applications for Mobile network Enhanced Logic (CAMEL) was introduced. Partner selection would happen (partly) on the MNO’s ability to deliver the services.
Even today, that approach dictated by that same order of operations is still applicable. Only now, there’s an opportunity to optimize a new commercial framework with partners for new services like IoT and 5G, or even all data roaming services. To appropriately monetize, MNOs should consider applying value-based pricing for 5G non-standalone (instead of delivering 5G experience at 4G pricing), or access fee-based pricing for IoT.
Next, identify the services that would benefit from BCE, including IoT, 5G, packet data in general, voice, SMS, all roaming traffic, RAT-based, and IMSI-range.
Process optimization may seem a critical first step, but achieving BCE compliance also requires determining resource availability to develop standard reports using a homogenous file format, outlining the capabilities for traffic reconciliation, and the ability to ramp up resources and adopt supplemental processes to support BCE and its ongoing evolution.
The BCE standard is nonetheless a significant development, and its adoption by MNOs will help improve interoperability, transparency, and innovation. While the process of becoming compliant with the standard may be challenging for some, it is essential for MNOs to do so to offer improved services, remain competitive and monetize adequately.
Download our whitepaper to assess your BCE readiness factors and contact us today to get started!
Elke Reis is a senior emerging product specialist at Syniverse, the global leader of telecommunication and information technology solutions. She has over 18 years of experience in leading innovative clearing and settlement solutions in the wholesale roaming industry, with vast expertise in customer success and product portfolios comprising wholesale financial clearing and settlement software solutions.
She currently serves as senior emerging product specialist in Syniverse’s new business development group, where she focuses on the company’s emerging product areas, such as Carrier Messaging Hub, Universal Commerce, and IoT Clearing and Settlement. She is based in Luxembourg and has a passion for leading customer solutions. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and fine arts.