Are you monitoring usage?

Operators are moving aggressively to Next Generation Network technologies so as to bring in technology innovation and thereby bringing in more sophistication to the services being offered to their end customers. End customers are asking for improved ways of being connected and hence moving together with technology innovation is a must for operators. Rather than a monetization mechanism, this is more of a customer retention methodology which the operators are forced to adopt. As the technology is evolving to IP based applications and beyond, it is quite important that the users have to be authenticated, authorized and accounted for in real time – or atleast near real time.

From end customer point of view also, usage monitoring is very much required so as to avoid “Bill Shock”. Bill shock is the scenario where the end customer is not getting any view of the current usage pattern (or unbilled usage) and finally gets a huge bill at the end of the month.  Real time communication of usage pattern hence prevents this scenario from happening resulting in customer satisfaction. Communicating usage pattern in real time also enables end customer to request for additional bandwidth or free minutes or balance in case he/she want to continue using his/her service – be it broadband, voice call or video respectively. Again this is another method of bringing in customer delight. “Usage meter” is hence a common term which is used across all lines of business.

Many a times the AAA (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting) functions are performed with some latency owing to disparate systems performing independent actions. This obviously calls for a revenue leakage which becomes huge if the latency is quite high and subscriber base is medium/high. While the latency cannot be avoided beyond a limit in practice, there is obviously a high demand to perform the operations in near real time. Solutions which can meet the aforementioned demands are in high demand. CRM and BSS solutions thus gain importance since it can effectively monetize the services based on usage which in-turn helps the service provider to cut the revenue leakage as well as bringing in more customer satisfaction.

Plugging revenue leakage starts from collecting the usage events from network elements in real time. SURE! Collection platform (which is part of mediation and rating platform) can interact with next generation network elements (along with legacy network elements in traditional way) in most of the industry standard protocols (RADIUS, DIAMETER). Also other interface protocols like HTTP/S, IPDR, Webservices, XML, Database adapter collection etc., are also supported for collection of events. It even has a watchdog feature which pings the network element in pre-defined intervals in case the network elements goes “idle”. The platform can work in HA& DR (High Availability & Disaster Recovery) architecture that makes sure that none of the usage details send by the network elements are lost out in the process.  Once the usage details are collected (typically the details includes START, STOP and INTERIM records) by the collection module, the event is correlated to single record and passed on the rating module. The usage charges are then derived based on the plan associated with the customer. The priced details are stored in the database or passed on to billing module to be presented in the final invoice. The unbilled usage can be presented in a portal or app (in mobile or tabs) which gives current unbilled usage of the customer. This helps end customer in limiting the usage or ask for additional usage for continuing the service.

In-memory processing capabilities of the module make sure that performance standards are adhered to which makes SURE! an effective solution to work in highly demanding business models like prepaid in addition to support for postpaid models. SURE! thus can be a quite effective solution for operators who plan to move or already moved to Next Generation networks and launch innovative services across multiple lines of services (Video, Voice or Data on top of IP Core) so as to achieve the highest degree of customer satisfaction. Be SURE! and customer satisfaction is hence as`SURE`d.

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