SOA boosts billing creativity in the mobile world

Billing innovation -- built on service oriented architecture approaches -- drives new offerings in fast-growing mobile phone markets

Where the rubber meets the road: SOA-based systems widen service reach in fast-moving markets (Photo: Michael Kanellos, CNET)

No one ever accused accounts-receivable departments of being on the creative edge, but perhaps, with the growing diversity and demands of customers, they need a dose of innovation. And that dose may be coming from SOA. Designing systems along service-oriented lines may be bringing out the creativity in mobile phone billing departments, Rich Karpinski reports.

With mobile services booming across the globe, especially in fast-growing markets in India and China, telecom providers are scrambling to find new ways to bundle service packages that will keep pace with customer demand.  As Karpinski puts it: "deployments are being enabled by new Web 2.0 and service oriented architecture (SOA)-driven approaches and on cheaper, more powerful general purpose hardware that makes rolling out new billing and charging overlay schemes -- as opposed to yesterday's monolithic billing systems -- easier and cheaper than ever."

The ability to mix and match offerings -- supported by a flexible underlying architecture -- may provide a competitive edge against more traditional flat-rate and post-paid mobile billing plans. Large telecoms operating in emerging markets are able to roll out "real-time charging" and "subscriber and network management platforms to roll-out concepts -- such as per-second billing or real-time promotional offers."

A few years back, The New York Times described how India was becoming the fastest-growing cellular market in the world, thanks in no small part to creative bundling plans that have made the services available to wide parts of the population.