Policy + charging

Billing Gets Personal

9:25 AM -- Billing has never been one of those head-turning, eyebrow-raising topics in the telecom industry, but it's worth looking at what Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG) is planning to do to mobile-data charging in Belgium.

Using Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) functionality from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), which comes as part of the vendor's 5780 Dynamic Services Controller (DSC), Belgacom hopes to make mobile data billing less complicated and more personalized for its customers, by helping them to keep track of how much data they use each month nationally as well as internationally.

Part of this policy control functionality will go towards keeping Belgacom in line with the latest EU regulations on international data roaming and preventing so-called "bill shock." But Belgacom can use the capability for more than just regulatory compliance or managing monthly data caps. And that's why it's interesting.

Belgacom will give customers real-time alerts about how much data they're using as well as access to their usage information that is continually updated. And with the data collected about subscribers' usage patterns, the operator will be able to tailor mobile data tariffs based on how much an individual actually consumes.

Anything that takes the complexity and mystery out of mobile data charges has got to be a good thing, from a user's point of view. And it will be interesting to see just how personalized Belgacom will want to make its mobile data plans in future.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:40 PM
re: Billing Gets Personal

I used AT&T's data plan on my iPad the other day and started to download a magazine. I burned up my 250MB data plan in 9 minutes flat. Ridiculous. I got an email alerting me, but it didn't help me understand how that was possible. There's definitely more operators can do to help increase understanding.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:28:39 PM
re: Billing Gets Personal

Yikes. It's got to be made easier to understand!

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:35 PM
re: Billing Gets Personal

A 250MB quota on an iPad sounds like a mis-match... a tease really.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:35 PM
re: Billing Gets Personal

The motivation is admirable. But it will depend on how it actually works in practice.

It sounds a bit annoying to keep getting texts alerting you that you've used x MB, or x % of your quota. Like in Sarah's case (see below), she'll be worrying all month about that magazine now. If she hadn't had the alert she could have merrily carried on without a care.

Anne Morris 12/5/2012 | 5:28:35 PM
re: Billing Gets Personal

I've had similar - roaming plans with inclusive data that gets used up before you're left the airport. This kind of openness on personal data usage is crucial, I think, as usage grows and users want to know more about their consumption. Might it even be enough for Mr pay-by-bit Harvey?

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