The adage “if it cannot be charged for it’s not worth doing” does not apply as easily in relation to new business models such as “try before you buy” or “order now, pay later”. However, in the era of newer payment models such as these, charging has an increasingly critical and, perhaps, even more nuanced role for operators.
As 5G moves into the realm of end-to-end or “standalone” (SA) 5G, charging also has an increased role in centralizing the activities of the various other 5G functions - particularly data and analytics functions - to become the focal point of 5G value. While continuing the journey of 3G/4G consolidation that had already been onboarded for many operators. Research conducted by Omdia back in late 2020 highlighted that more than 40% of CSPs had over 50 revenue management systems. This was before 5G standalone ambitions kicked in.
Service providers are often constrained by the need to optimize various 4G assets as well as move to Cloud-based 5G. For many, this may seem destined to add complexity instead of providing a much-desired simplification of the process. This begs the question: what lessons can be learned from 5G deployments to date?
This has been the basis of a lot of discussion and debate as of late - especially around lessons from top-tier service providers as they continue their 5G journeys. So, we have simplified it to the key considerations when it comes to 5G charging.
Charging is proving and needs to be a:
- Basis for more efficient convergence and consolidation
- Critical footing for Cloud-native implementation as well as choices relating to preferred Cloud infrastructure vendor selection across 5G network functions
- Driver for organizational efficiencies
- Provider of efficient service definition, management and even justification for the effective launch of new and diversified, 5G-driven B2C and B2B2x services
While this may not be an exhaustive list of opportunities and considerations on the subject's complexities, it does cover a lot of ground. Some factors are more applicable than others for specific operators depending on their respective stages of evolution within charging and 5G in general. However, for many service providers, charging is increasingly seen as an “anchor tenant”, “single source of truth”, “treasury” or “foundational building block” of 5G as a solid foundation for evolving other functions.