The next big wave in wireless communication is 5G technology — the fifth generation of wireless technology that promises not only higher bandwidth and faster download speeds, but also enhanced connectivity between and among all our IoT-powered devices and services. (Read our 5G overview blog.) The big question for telecom companies looking to take advantage of all 5G has to offer in terms of customer experience and revenue growth is this:

Is your billing system ready for the challenge?

While the network overhauls will be the most visible transformation that comes with the move from 4G to 5G, the business systems underpinning telecom companies will require significant changes as well. As this new technology brings together so many different, connected services, Deloitte predicts 5G has the potential to move consumers away from network providers, yet, if the right user experience is provided, may help solidify user relationships for a long time.

Today’s communication service providers must prepare for exponential increases in both the volume and variety of usage events. And as we’ve seen, most legacy billing systems weren’t built to handle that kind of growth. While existing systems may have served their purpose in the 3G era — and maybe 4G, too — they’re more likely to cause bottlenecks, delays and errors than to spur growth as we shift over to 5G.

What do telecom companies and other CSPs need to look for in a 5G-ready billing system? For starters, cloud-native billing architecture and powerful convergent billing capabilities.

Cloud-Native Billing Architecture

The 5G revolution positions CSPs as digital service providers, offering and managing a wide variety of services across a wide variety of devices. These may include one-off purchases such as movie downloads, ongoing charges like by-the-minute video chatting, metered charges based on message volume or device usage during a certain period, for starters. And these transactions won’t all generate from our smartphones (though many will); they may also come from autonomous vehicles and other IoT devices.

While, to a certain extent, we can’t predict the specifics of 5G connectivity until it’s happening, we do know that monetizing this newfound volume and variety of usage will require more flexibility in billing than ever before. CSPs will need to be able to record and standardize these disparate transactions, distilling them into easy-to-understand (and pay) invoices for customers — without delays, thorny errors or revenue leakage. In addition, CSPs will need the capability to add and adjust services and pricing quickly to continue creating value for customers, scaling up and down quickly to meet demand.

Most legacy systems — either on-premise hardware systems, or systems that have been retrofitted for cloud functionality — simply cannot provide the flexibility or agility required for CSPs to successfully monetize 5G services. Cloud native solutions, on the other hand, are designed specifically to evolve, grow and connect in the way CSPs will need their billing systems to do in this new era.

Streamlined Convergent Billing

Given the variety of services offered, telecom companies and other CSPs have long relied on convergent billing to provide single, comprehensive invoices for customers. When a CSP offers a variety of services, each billed differently — for example, checking prepaid text and talk balances combined with postpaid charges with complex customer hierarchies and volume discounts — it’s important to be able to merge those different services into one itemized invoice to improve the billing experience. One complete invoice is much easier to track and pay — and easier to stomach, too — than several smaller ones.

However, convergent billing has always been a challenge. Some systems are well-equipped to handle prepaid usage, and others are ready for postpaid, but very few can handle both. And as the volume and variety of traffic continues to grow, reconciling all those varied charge types will become more and more difficult. The need for a billing platform with powerful convergent billing capabilities will become even more paramount.

To that end, Gotransverse is thrilled to be partnering with renowned online charging systems to power convergent billing for communication service providers. In these partnerships, our own cloud-based platform will manage the postpaid billing while our partners will handle the real-time charging. The result: streamlined invoicing and a unified seamless customer experience for CSPs looking to monetize 5G products and services

If your business is ready to update systems and platforms in preparation to take advantage of all 5G has to offer, we’d love to talk about how Gotransverse can help. We invite you to take a tour of our platform today, and then call us to schedule your complimentary, personalized demo.