BSS (inc. billing, revenue assurance)

Skype's Big Billing Break

8:15 AM -- When Niklas Zennstrom launched Skype Ltd. in 2003, did he ever imagine the VoIP service would appear on the bills of traditional telcos? (See Skype Me? Skype You!)

Because that's what looks likely to happen, starting in October, following a deal between Skype and MACH , which provides financial clearing (including direct operator billing for third-party applications) and roaming/interconnect services. (See Syniverse to Buy MACH for $693M.)

"Skype users will be able to charge their Skype credit to their mobile phone bill or pre-paid account," notes MACH in a press release issued today. That'll make it much easier for people who have a billing relationship with their communications service provider to buy Skype services without having to set up a new payment arrangement.

This is indicative of the changes underway in the communications services sector, where carrier billing systems are increasingly being used for non-traditional telco services, and one example of how attitudes to over-the-top (OTT) services are evolving. (See What's Underneath OTT?)

Of course, this requires telcos to sign up to MACH's offer and there are certainly no names being linked with the offer as yet. "As of now, we can't disclose the details of specific operators because of confidentiality," MACH tells Light Reading via email. "The service will be launched in a number of countries in different phases, from October. We will be releasing additional details at this time."

It'll be interesting to see which ones make the leap first: I expect it will be Tier2/3 operators in emerging markets.

For further commentary on this news, check out this BillingViews blog, which asks whether this makes Skype, which is of course now part of the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) empire, an under-the-counter rather than an over-the-top service.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:22:05 PM
re: Skype's Big Billing Break

So, the question every operator that uses MACH as its clearing house will need to ask is -- will it help or hurt my sales and margins if I sign up for this option. 

Ooh, this will be a tough one for many...

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