The end of data roaming charges is set for July 2014. For consumers this will be excellent news. For operators in the short term it will be irritating or a massive problem, depending on whether they have figured out the solution. Although this issue tends to result in headlines as unwary travellers are caught by huge data charges while roaming, it is not the only irritating issue that regulation causes.
Even with the global surveillance from PRISM and other national security bodies, national telecoms regulation almost always insists that customer data is kept in-country. For smaller telcos this is generally not an issue. For larger telcos it can cause serious problems. They are faced with decisions around the most effective use of IT resources and most that operate globally or regionally will be considering centralizing their billing for their enterprise customers – who tend to be regional or global. They are also considering standardizing their billing for consumers.
Standardising generally means one version of software with multiple iterations. For many years, consolidation projects have had as their goal one software license, with several iterations. This is cost effective but also means that different types of customer can be addressed through those iterations. Thus consumers, SMEs, Corporate and Government can be handled with one system.
Faced with the requirement to keep customer records nationally provides a problem if you are a larger carrier, operating internationally. And if you are thinking about leveraging the cost effectiveness and flexibility of the Cloud, such restrictions might de-rail that solution.
And most operators are thinking along these lines. The survey by Telecoms.com earlier this year pointed to 68 percent of operators wanting to standardize their billing platforms. And whilst many of them thought it would difficult, 38 percent believed standardization was achievable – if it wasn’t for internal politics. The majority, some 64 percent, believed that standardization would be easier using a cloud based, Billing as a Service approach.
This is where true Cloud based, multi-tenancy, Billing as a Service comes in. Multi-tenancy allows centralization for international corporate customers, standardization for national customers and the flexibility to keep local databases, currencies and languages in individual countries.
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