XPlornet Taps Zuora for WiMax-to-LTE Pricing

Subscription billing company also inks a deal with Salesforce to speed time to market and make pricing plans more flexible for telcos

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

April 6, 2011

3 Min Read
XPlornet Taps Zuora for WiMax-to-LTE Pricing

Billing vendor Zuora Inc. has introduced a new subscription service in partnership with Salesforce.com Inc. that's aimed at telecom service providers and revealed that Canadian 4G operator Barrett Xplore Inc. will be among the first to use "Zuora for Communications" to manage pricing on its nascent Xplorenet WiMax network.

Through its partnership with Salesforce, Zuora's subscription billing and commerce services will run on Force.com, Salesforce's enterprise cloud computing platform. The combination lets Barrett customize pricing to certain customer segments or change price plans, bundles or promotions on the fly and receive analytics on how the plans are working out.

Zuora has a lot of big-name, legacy competitors, including Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), but what sets it apart is its reliance on the cloud, which lets operators get up and running in a matter of months, a lot faster than when legacy infrastructure is involved.(See Cloud Telephony Is More Than Hot Air.)

Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo says there's also significant cost savings in using the cloud in this new "subscription economy" where access is more important than ownership.

"The problem with Amdocs is it's so expensive and labor intensive that the cost and time becomes prohibitive," Tzuo says. "If you're doing a new product launch and it takes two years and a $1 billion, then maybe Amdocs makes sense. But once you're launched and your competitor does something different in one of your markets and you need to respond, and it takes you six months, it will be impossible to compete."

Why this matters
Zuora for Communications works on any network -- broadband, cellular, Wi-Fi and VoIP included -- but it gets more interesting with Long Term Evolution (LTE). Most, if not all, wireless operators have stated that they cannot maintain unlimited pricing on 4G networks and that new business models will be explored. Increasingly, they are looking to the cloud to quickly introduce new tiers of pricing or manage caps. The ability to change plans and promos on the fly may be an important consideration too as operators test the waters.

Barrett Xplore is an interesting customer for Zuora because it is in the early stages of rolling out a WiMax network, but plans to later move to LTE through software upgrades to its network. Its pricing may change as a result, and -- as a greenfield deployment -- using the cloud makes sense from a cost and time-to-market perspective. (See Xplornet Plots Canadian 4G Network With Tellabs.)

For more
Billing is going to be a bigger issue on LTE networks than it is on 3G. Read up on how wireless operators have changed their pricing strategies in the following stories.

  • Mobile Ops Make Policy More Popular, Less Punitive

  • CTIA 2011: Throttling & the Data Cap Debate

  • Sprint CEO Taunts Competitors Over Unlimited

  • Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

  • AT&T Intros Mobile Data Caps

  • MetroPCS Continues 4G Price War

  • Capping the Data Gusher

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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