With telcos facing the heat of competition, we are seeing a marked change in their way of working. Their focus has shifted from just building up their network capabilities to enhancing the experience of customers and they are doing their level best to keep them engaged with new and innovative offerings. Given the current circumstances, a cutting-edge OCS has become par for the course.
The Pitfalls of Legacy Charging Systems
In the past, telcos implemented IN for prepaid billing and an offline charging system for postpaid billing. There were two major pitfalls of these implementations:
- Although IN systems were able to charge prepaid customers in real-time, they were found lacking when telcos decided to launch flexible offerings in form of innovative bundles.
- The erstwhile offline charging system charged users after the services were rendered. Hence, it was unable to keep tabs in cases where users exceeded the allocated services. This led to revenue leakage and impacted the performance of operators adversely.
The Evolution of OCS
To overcome the disadvantages of previously employed systems, the OCS system was developed. Initially in the 3GPP release 5, it was conceptualized to control credit and charging of packet transport networks and IMS. But after many revisions, it came to be the solution that everyone was looking for – a single platform for convergent charging and billing.
With the evolution of OCS, separate solutions for rating and charging different services were no longer required. As an OCS system separates charging control from call control, it allows an operator to adapt to any network and deliver any kind of service. Now, it has become the cornerstone of any billing operation and a must-have for telocs that want to improve their customer experience. A modern-day real-time OCS charging system has the capability to streamline your telecom billing and offer customized bundles of services to meet your emerging requirements.
Convergent Charging and Billing: The Advantages for Telecom Operators
- Prevents revenue leakage: Ideal replacement for legacy IN and offline charging systems, the OCS overcomes previous limitations by charging customers in real-time. It ensures that resources are authorized on per transaction basis and hence, prevents revenue leakage by enforcing credit limits. Due to the presence of an OCS system in their telecom charging system architecture, telcos no longer have to worry about subscribers using more resources than they were actually allocated.
- Flexibility in charging: An OCS is capable of charging usage based on events and sessions. Events like SMS are charged based on the frequency of their occurrence rather than their volume or duration. On the other hand, sessions like voice calls are charged on the length of the session. This allows telcos to charge for different services in an orderly manner. Due to this much needed flexibility, operators are able to launch personalized packages, innovative discounts like cross-product discounts and many other creative offerings.
- Policy control integration: With the control function integrated into the OCS, the chances of redundancy are eliminated in policy and subscriber configuration. It allows you to enable or disable services to your subscribers at any time.
- Verification of user before providing access: When you have a quality OCS solution in place, you are able to authorize users before providing them access to the services. This ensures that service is offered only to intended recipients.
- Management of additional subscriber features: Services like blacklist, prepaid lifecycle and live balance can be managed with the OCS. All these features have become necessary in the telecom domain to cater to the emerging needs of modern-day subscribers.
- Offers personalized experience to the customers: With the right OCS at your disposal, you become more versatile while bringing new services to the market. You are also able to create user-specific plans and hence, offer a personalized experience to your subscribers. In this day and age, customer loyalty is at an all-time low and offering personalized services is a great way to improve that.
- Truly convergent charging: By procuring a cutting-edge OCS, you are not only able to deliver the fundamental services like data, messaging and voice but also more advanced services like video streaming over OTT (Over the top) platforms. On top of that, it is also possible to enter into new partnerships with a quality OCS system at your disposal. An OCS makes partnering with other resellers a lot easier as it lets you bill the customers for third-party content conveniently.
- Support for complex future services: The impending full-fledged launch of 5G and the forecasted proliferation of IoT has put huge burden on the shoulders of telcos. But you can reduce this burden considerably by incorporating an OCS in your work culture that is designed to support tracking and billing of millions of transactions. An advanced OCS system that is scalable to match up to the requirements of future is all you need to stay safe in the ever-evolving telecom industry.
How an OCS System Adds to the User Experience?
The advantages mentioned above are wholly from a telcos perspective. Below are some ways, in which, a modern OCS system can enhance your subscribers’ experience while using your services:
- Users will be able to use the services that they actually want – It happens many a times that when a customer opts for a particular plan, he gets many services that he actually does not require. For example, a customer may only want high data capacity but your plan that comes with large amount of data may also include additional goodies like Netflix subscription or IPTV. The addition of these extras may inflate the price beyond customer’s buying capabilities. This will result in customer looking elsewhere. However, when you have a quality OCS solution at your disposal, you will be able to offer personalized plans to your customers thus checking the attrition rate due to unfavorable plans.
- Complete transparency in billing – By charging and rating usage through a common OCS, you are able to create fully-itemized convergent bills. The user gets details of all charges in a single invoice, which enhances transparency in billing and makes things a lot more convenient. Such a billing system also minimizes the possibility of billing disputes and fosters customer’s trust in telecom billing.
Considerations before Investing in a New OCS System
A quality OCS can surely add new stars to your telecom operation; however, you need to consider a few things before investing in a new charging system:
- Safety of data – Billing data generated after subscribers’ usage of services is stored in the charging and billing system. And, if your OCS is located in-house and there is a natural disaster that compromises the data, then you have no way to bring it back. Such an incident can cause real damage to your finances as well as your reputation. Therefore, you should choose a cloud-based OCS that stores data at multiple datacenters. So, in case, a datacenter is compromised due to human-inflicted or natural disaster, you always have another storage point to extract your data from.
- Data security – An OCS stores vital subscriber information like account details, house address, email address, service plan, phone number etc. This information is very sensitive and if it falls into the wrong hand, it can have a devastating effect on your business. Therefore, you should always invest in an OCS that is bolstered by strong encryption, which is updated/upgraded regularly to ward off hackers’ threat.
In this age of competition, keeping your customers happy is the only way to success. The same is true for the telecom industry, which is struggling to keep up pace with the evolving customer requirements. Therefore, it has become important for MNOs and MVNOs to enhance their operations by choosing a cutting-edge OCS system that delivers on every front.
With a powerful OCS solution that meets your requirements; you will be able to prevent revenue leakage, brace up for future services like IoT and at the same time keep your customers happy by offering innovative discounts. But, before you invest in an OCS platform, you should be mindful of the way it secures the data and safeguards vital customer information stored online. Only once you are convinced about the measures employed by your vendor, you should purchase your next OCS system.