5G networks are blazing fast – charging needs to keep up
Converged charging enables service providers and their partners to fully monetize 5G’s business potential. The hype around 5G has largely focused on network speed but communications service providers (CSPs) know that a different kind of speed is even more important: Speed of innovation. 5G will help service providers get new products out faster for both consumer and enterprise customers.
25 Aug 2021
5G networks are blazing fast – charging needs to keep up
Sponsored by: Oracle
Converged charging enables service providers and their partners to fully monetize 5G’s business potential. The hype around 5G has largely focused on network speed but communications service providers (CSPs) know that a different kind of speed is even more important: Speed of innovation. 5G will help service providers get new products out faster for both consumer and enterprise customers. However, without converged charging – the software that handles how much to charge customers for services – CSPs won’t be able to reap the full revenue potential of 5G, at its current pace. Also CSPs need customer experience software that matches 5G’s agility. Recent changes to consumers’ behavior will be permanent. More than three-quarters of consumers plan to stick with business habits formed in the pandemic after the crisis ends, according to an August 2020 study by Accenture. These include in-app ordering (84% say they plan to continue), home delivery (82%), shopping via social media platforms (80%), and more. To meet those needs, CSPs will become even more important as 5G matures. Low latency and network slicing will allow new generations of services to be spun up on the fly, with close collaboration between service providers and businesses across industries. Today, there isn’t much coordination between CSPs and app providers. Consumers buy phones from CSPs and apps from the app store. The app provider owns the relationship with the consumer, relegating the CSP to delivering the “dumb pipes” of commoditized network services. Those relationships will change as 5G matures. CSPs and business partners, including businesses in the app economy, will need to collaborate closely to achieve customer satisfaction. They’ll need to collect and split revenue from customers, which is where a new generation of charging systems for service providers comes in.
Consider the revenue possibilities
Imagine on a beautiful fall day, I’m at football game. As I enter the stadium, a phone alert offers me faster, premium service for the game. I sign up by tapping an app. Later, a star player comes on the field and I get a text offering a video clip of that player’s game-winning goal from the previous night as part of the premium service. Two weeks later, I’m back at the stadium. My CSP knows I have season tickets, so offers me an unlimited data upgrade for the whole season while inside the stadium. Can’t make it to the game one night? I get an exclusive video recap as part of my service. That kind of service requires complex business relationships behind the scenes. The CSP collects payment from me and splits that revenue with the team. Both require metrics – how many people saw the offer, how many clicked on it, how many watched the video? All that data goes to fine-tuning the service to make it more appealing and profitable. That football stadium example is not far from reality. In February 2021, Verizon announced that it invested more than $80 million and expanded permanent 5G deployments in Tampa, Florida, and at Raymond James Stadium – site of Super Bowl LV – to deliver immersive, interactive mobile viewing experiences for fans in the stadium and at home.
Game on for gaming
Another example: Some 90% of gamers play on smartphones, and 40% play only on smartphones, according to research by the GSMA. This is fertile ground for 5G innovation and the market is enormous, with 2 billion gamers worldwide. 5G will enable cloud gaming companies to deliver the high bandwidth and low latency demanded by the most skillful players and complex games. A game developer could partner with CSPs to offer premium network service to accompany the latest hot title for improved gameplay or just to download the game in one burst. Better network connections can reduce latency to make responsiveness closer to real time for online gaming and cross talk. Virtual reality (VR) gaming will require even more bandwidth and faster response times, providing yet another opportunity for gaming companies to partner with CSPs. Immersive reality offers enormous potential for 5G revenue streams. Sports arenas and concert venues will be able to deliver VR, augmented reality (AR), and other immersive experiences to give audiences watching on screens something closer to a live experience. Those lucky enough to attend in person will be have the option of high-speed networking and video highlights. The new generation of 5G services will require CSPs to partner closely with broadcasters, gaming companies, sports leagues, music businesses, enterprise systems integrators, software providers, and others. Today’s competitors will be partners in the next deal.
Monetization has to get easier
Monetization is a potential bottleneck. Monetizing services is already a challenge for many service providers with the complexity of mobile and fixed offerings, apart from other value-added services. That problem will become more difficult as they roll out products that are more flexible, delivered in real time, and in complex partnership with other companies. Service providers require reliable, agile, converged charging systems to truly reap the benefits of 5G. It needs to be cloud native and optimally integrated with converged policy management to support dynamic 4G and 5G data offerings. It needs to support both prepaid and postpaid consumer business models. It should also be part of a holistic approach to digital experience with commerce, billing, and customer experience. Enterprise use cases will increasingly require unique rating and charging parameters, such as charging based on network slice, device type, location, or number of sensors. Having a real-time and highly scalable charging system is key to supporting these business models for the next mobile generation.
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