A History of the Telecoms Billing Industry

Telecoms billing has evolved significantly over time, from the early days of transferred account procedures, to the advanced systems of today that support 5G networks.

With new technology changing the way people communicate constantly, telecoms billing platforms such as aBILLity have to be dynamic and flexible.

But what were the early beginnings of telecoms billing? And how has the technological advances of modern day changed things?

Let’s take a look.

Telecoms Billing in a Nutshell

Telecom (telecommunication) billing is defined as ‘a process of collecting usage, aggregating it, applying required changes and generating invoices for customers; this includes receiving and recording payments from the customers.

The basis for most actions in telecom billing is usage-based billing, which charges users according to their actual use.

The use of a billing system can be applied to:

  • Voice Calls
  • SMS Services
  • Internet and mobile services

Transferred Account Procedures

Transferred account procedures were an early method of charging people for making phone calls. It worked by the operator or phone company charging the calling party a fee, which would then transfer to the called party, often by a message to the called parties operator.

While this system was a way of promoting long distance phone calls, it was rather cumbersome and slow.

It also helped in the early days of telecommunications when there were many small, independent phone companies.

As time moved on though, technology made improvements to this system and soon transferred account procedures became a thing of the past.

The Birth of Monthly Bills

As time went by many new methods of telecoms billing were introduced.

There was pulse dialling and paper billing, which saw bills become automated and sent to the customer in the post monthly.

After this, in the 1960s, came touch-tone dialling, which allowed for faster call connections and billing which was much more accurate.

Around this time, billing became electronic, but it wasn’t until the 1980s when billing really got smarter.

Mobile Phones and Prepaid Billing

The introduction of mobile phones in the 1980s changed everything.

People now had a device in their pocket capable of making calls, and therefore a streamlined way of billing was needed.

This method was prepaid billing, and this involved paying in advance for a certain amount of talk time.

This allowed greater flexibility and also a much better control over spending.

A decade later, and into the 90s, real-time billing also became possible, allowing customers to track their usage in real time and avoid unexpected charges.

There was also the introduction of contracted billing, where people pay a monthly fee for a certain amount of call time and also have the opportunity to add anything extra on top.

Increased 5G Deployment

The introduction of 5G networks has brought about a new era of telecoms billing, with advanced systems that can handle massive amounts of data and support new technologies.

It is forecasted that 5G technology will be the leading technology for data transfer. By 2025, South Korea will have the highest share of 5G mobile connections, accounting for 73% of total mobile connections.

The Billing and Charging Evolution

Since 1991, the telecom industry has used the Transferred Account Procedures (TAP) for roaming billing and settlement needs. However, it is believed that the process is too complex to support future technologies.

It has been deemed too complicated, too expensive to upgrade and it no longer provides solutions for current and future charging models. Simplification was required by operators.

The Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) is a new process which will cater for any new services that mobile operators will launch in the future.

It is mostly reports on aggregated data by the criteria that you agree with your roaming partner. TAP will remain in maintenance mode, meaning that no new additions or major changes will be made to it. This means that any new services will therefore be launched using BCE.

Telecoms Billing with Union Street

At Union Street, we understand how quickly things can change in the world of telecoms billing, and that’s why we are always looking out for any new technologies that can boost our product.

ABILLity is an award-winning telecoms billing platform that can streamline your telecommunications billing.

Want to know more? Then get in touch today.