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Huawei Technologies

Reshape
your billing
support system By Xie Qingrui

The business support system (BSS) of operator X involves


multiple rating and charging systems. Prepaid voice services
are rated through an intelligent network (IN) system; content
services are rated through a dedicated content rating system;
post-paid voice services are rated through the billing system;
while multimedia messaging services (MMS) are rated through
the MMS center.
Operator X is left chasing the rising tides of stiff competition.
A new rating system is constructed when each new service is
added and the existing billing system has to be reconfigured and
interconnected. The separated rating systems not only increase
operational expenditures, but also make it more difficult to
provide diversified tariff packages.
It appears to be high time to change the billing support
architecture. During recent meetings on operations, they
discussed this topic at length and came up with some solutions.

APR 2008 . ISSUE 40 44


SOLUTION
Reshape your billing support system

Four advantages of convergent Real-time billing, real-time care


billing Traditionally, the prepaid service adopts a real-

C
time billing mode, while post-paid service is not
onvergent billing has become a hot in real time. The CBS gives the operator a choice
topic in the telecom industry. The 3rd of implementing real-time or non-real-time billing
Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for both prepaid and post-paid services. In the real-
defines in the R6 specification, the time billing mode, post-paid subscribers can get real-
framework and interfaces of the online charging time service navigation, balance prompts and tariff
system (OCS) for convergent charging support. notices, and get answers to queries about usage and
Huawei, with more than 10 years experience in their account balance. Real-time billing can improve
the IN, BSS, data services and charging systems, customer satisfaction, and more importantly, help
has developed a complete convergent billing the operator to minimize the bad debt risks.
solution (CBS) offering high flexibility and open
characteristic of IT systems, plus carrier-class Convergent management reduces costs
reliability. Based on the core engine and modular
design, the Huawei CBS supports step-by-step The traditional separated billing systems require
implementation according to network status and a high overhead in terms of configuration of human
future evolution strategies. resources, equipment investment, and operations and
maintenance (O&M). When all these are integrated,
Rule-driven engine shortens the TTM operational costs are significantly reduced and
management simplified. The Huawei CBS supports
The Huawei CBS adopts a telecom platform and a full collection of mobile and fixed infrastructure
an IT core, based on a rule-driven engine for online networks, including GSM/GPRS, CDMA, UMTS,
and offline charging. Rule-driven means that during CDMA2000, PSTN, NGN, IP multimedia subsystem
system implementation and operations, an operator (IMS), WiMAX, WLAN, xDSL network, and also
or others can compose new rating or billing rules future supports the long-term evolution (LTE)
with simple language, such as IF…THEN…, AND, network. Convergent operation and management
OR, >, <, and ==. can lead to a better segmentation of customer groups,
The rule-driven engine covers three functional multi-service bundling, and cross-service bonus to
fields: rating, charging, and charging off. These remain competitive and gain market share.
fields are frequently changed in a billing system.
Through the rule-driven engine, operators can Open architecture, flexible integration
response to new requirements more quickly with
the help of hierarchical configuration interfaces that The CBS has four layers: the service control and
are encapsulated for different operation personnel. mediation layer, convergent rating and charging
Instead of deployment taking several days to several layer, convergent billing layer, and the unified
months, in some cases implementation time customer care and marketing layer. The solution
can be cut to several minutes, resulting in supports all interface types commonly adopted
a significant improvement in market between the service control and mediation layer
competitiveness. and the network. It includes the intelligent network
application protocol (INAP), CAMEL application
protocol (CAP), wireless intelligent network (WIN),
mobile application protocol (MAP), session
initiation protocol (SIP), Diameter,
and file transfer protocol (FTP)
interfaces.
The convergent rating
and charging layer and the
convergent billing layer are
both supported by the rule-
driven engine and can be
used in either the loosely
coupled mode or the
tightly coupled mode.
In the tightly coupled

45 APR 2008 . ISSUE 40


Huawei Technologies

mode, the two layers can provide high- billing on prepaid and post-paid services. competitors and support flexible marketing
performance, flexible rating, charging and By using the Huawei OCS, operators can strategies. For other operators, the adoption
billing functions. In the loosely coupled provide abundant tariff plans or packages of the CBS in the entire network can avoid
mode, it is possible to deploy the convergent to prepaid subscribers and shorten the the formation of multiple “stovepipe”
rating and charging layer only. This layer time-to-market for new charging features. billing systems and significantly decrease
integrates with the third-party billing system Compared with the end-to-end the OPEX.
on top, and with core network or service convergent billing solution, the OCS Previously, an operator whose prepaid
enablers on the bottom, which complies requires less network reconstruction subscribers were above the 90 percent might
with the OCS framework defined by the and consequently less risk. The prepaid have the need to construct a BSS to support
3GPP. Furthermore, the convergent rating system and the post-paid system require the remaining 10 percent of post-paid
and charging layer or the convergent billing d i f f e re n t d e p l oy m e n t s c h e m e s a n d subscribers, and despite heavy investment,
layer can be integrated with upper-layer network resources. For example, in a large the operator still might not get good post-
customer care and the marketing layer network, the OCS should be deployed sale service. Now operators using the Huawei
through common interfaces like the web in a distributed way to guarantee high CBS can have one unified system to meet
service interface. performance. Offline charging systems all subscriber requirements, improve their
Based on open architecture, the operator can be constructed in a concentrated experiences and cut the OPEX.
can deploy modules step-by-step to fulfill the mode. Prepaid subscribers need real-time
evolution towards end-to-end full convergent
billing. For example, the operator can first
response for charging, and good signaling
links should be allocated to bear real-time
Successful
deploy the OCS and integrate the OCS responses. Post-paid subscribers do not implementation
with the existing BSS. Then the operator can need real-time charging, and less links are
implement replacement of the billing system needed. The OCS and the offline charging The Huawei OCS/CBS has been a
or the customer care system. system can be deployed separately to resounding success for China Mobile
simplify the network architecture, making Guangdong, Mobile-8 in Indonesia, and
Novator in Iceland. AIS in Thailand and
Two leading products it even more efficient and cost-effective.
KPN in the Netherlands are also deploying
CBS the solution.
The launch of the Huawei online
The OCS has enabled China Mobile
charging system (OCS) and the convergent
The Huawei CBS supports end-to-end Guangdong to offer their customers
billing solution (CBS) has made it much
convergent billing for online and offline number portability (NP) between prepaid
easier to customize products according
charging, for prepaid, post-paid and and post-paid mode while keeping
to different application phases, existing
hybrid subscribers, and for all networks. balances and counters. The real-time credit
network conditions and the current status
The Huawei CBS provides a rich variety control function decreases bad debt risks
of the billing field.
of functionalities, including charging among post-paid subscribers, and the
OCS access, rating, balance management, convergence of online charging and offline
charging off, account receivable, IVR, charging facilitates system integration.
Huawei’s OCS is in the same position voucher management, partner relationship Mobile-8 has decreased their network
as the OCS defined by the 3GPP. The management (settlement), service OPEX with an end-to-end CBS and offers
OCS is the first phase of the operator’s provisioning, customer care, and CRM. It many customer-centered operations and
evolution towards end-to-end convergent does not offer business intelligence (BI) or services, such as unified settlement and
billing. The OCS enables rating and operation support system (OSS) functions. unified top-up. The OCS/CBS systems of
charging based on transactions and events. To meet project requirements, however, China Mobile Guangdong and Mobile-8
It offers some traditional IN functions, the Huawei CBS can integrate with third- have been running stably and smoothly
such as announcement playing, number party systems such as the existing customer since implementation. Collectively, with
collection, and voucher management. care or CRM system. over ten million satisfied subscribers, these
However, it does not offer the billing T h e Hu a we i C B S i s p ro p o s e d t o success stories offer a true testament to the
function. The OCS is able to offer Web- operators who are constructing whole-new high performance and reliability of the
based customer care itself or integrate with networks, newly licensed, or those needing systems.
the external customer care system or the convergent billing on prepaid and post-paid CBS construction is now included
customer relationship management (CRM) services. It is also proposed to operators in the aforementioned operator X ’s
system through the web service interface. who expect to reduce their OPEX through annual plan. By constructing the new
The Huawei OCS is proposed to end-to-end convergent billing. system, operator X can expect to remove
operators who serve both prepaid and post- By using CBS from the beginning, an any barriers to state-of-the-art BSS
paid subscribers in similar proportions but operator with a new network or new license development.
do not have a pressing need for convergent can have a much stronger BSS than their Editor: Pan Tao pantao@huawei.com

APR 2008 . ISSUE 40 46