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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Roaming Management 101: Unifying Payment Processes Through Universal Commerce for BCE Roaming

These days, almost anyone can do a business transaction on the go. Smartphones, along with the internet and financial technology systems, facilitate easy payment processes for electronic commerce.

Operating cross-border, universal commerce is not restricted by geographical boundaries and therefore needs payment technologies that are as openly available as possible. To maximize revenues and provide a better customer experience, businesses must adapt to these convenient, transparent, and seamless technologies. 

This article gives you a general view of how billing and charging evolution (BCE) roaming can help integrate payment processes for seamless roaming management.  

So, what is roaming?

People may be aware of the term roaming, especially as it relates to mobile phone use. This feature is responsible for allowing mobile phone users to make and accept audio calls, send and receive data, as well as use other services even when they’re outside the country. Roaming is typically managed through the use of another network available in the location they’re visiting.

Roaming allows a subscriber to access these services even outside the range of their home network by being automatically connected to another available local mobile network.  If your home network isn’t available in the country you’re visiting, it connects to another home network and is considered international roaming. (1)

It may sound simple, but the system is supported by frameworks that include mobility management, authentication, and billing. The roaming process, for instance, leans on specific roaming agreements between and among network operators. Put simply, the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) roaming allows users to use the same number, be charged on the same bill, and use the same phone in up to 219 countries—making this platform an international success.  (1)    

In essence, the roaming management system manages data and streamlines integration among roaming partners and their networks with accuracy and ease. The system aims to provide the right tools and data for an overall faster roaming process.

With a roaming management system, operators can have a centralized database for roaming data, including customizable reports and integrations. This makes it especially useful for universal commerce.

How is a roaming subscriber billed?

When a subscriber uses an international roaming service, the foreign mobile service provider collects and sends information to the home network via a Transfer Account Procedures (TAP) file. These files are then exported at least once per day by the foreign network and imported by the home network operator. This information will be the basis for sending an invoice or billing the subscriber. (2)

Additionally, the foreign network provider will rate the calls and charge the user’s home network for all the calls within a TAP file. The home network can then place add-on rates on the calls to increase cash flow. (2)   

What is Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE)?

With the activation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technology, the telecommunications industry has been slowly breaking free from its former platform called TAP, as mentioned earlier. TAP was the traditional billing format for the GSM cellular and personal communications system for several years. (3)

This technology is set to be replaced by Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE), for which business and technology service provider Syniverse is one of the major advocates.

TAP was seen as rigid and too complicated to update and was no longer compatible with the current technologies required by most industries. Hence, the telecoms sector needed to look elsewhere to switch to a more advanced solution, as well as streamline and automate the wholesale roaming process. (4)

BCE was developed to consolidate all payment-related data using blockchain technology or the distributed ledger technology, known to be both transparent and reliable. Blockchain technology can provide a secure record of transactions, allowing multiple parties to access information in real-time.

Additionally, as BCE roaming replaces the outdated TAP system through faster and more secure blockchain technology; it can minimize data errors. It’s a universal system that ensures information is updated in real-time, securely, and accurately.    

The benefits of BCE 

With TAP, telecom operators charged subscribers by measuring the total megabytes of data and minutes used. But with BCE roaming, they can now impose flexible charges using bulk data billing, simple aggregation, and network charge, making it more favorable for operators to increase their revenues. (4)

With BCE, networks no longer need to exchange TAP files daily. Rather, it’ll depend on the agreed intervals between the home and foreign network operators. As such, the aggregated reports are used in wholesale invoicing and settlement. Developed mainly for roaming operations, BCE has introduced reporting systems to better identify data usage, billing statements, and similar data. (4) (5)    

What is universal commerce? 

Universal commerce takes electronic and mobile commerce a step ahead by using ubiquitous networks to support personalized and uninterrupted transactions that aren’t possible through traditional commerce. Advanced electronic, wireless, mobile, and communication link the business and its customers, as well as other stakeholders. (6)   

What is the main challenge to payment systems?

Despite the presence of finance technologies that have revolutionized the banking system, such as online payments and fund transfers, merchants can still get stuck in typically expensive and often time-consuming traditional overseas financial transactions. This is especially true for traditional and non-digitized dealings. That’s because these arrangements go through layers of cross-border financial institutions and money transfer companies.  

As new technologies have emerged, allowing for instant payments using mobile devices and 5G-enabled phones, the system that facilitates these electronic payments need to keep up with the advancements—such is the case for BCE.

Final thoughts 

With outdated processes, operators may face problems with integration and data loss. Ultimately, failing to adapt to this updated system presents missed opportunities, which can be very costly for operators.

As technology continues to evolve, so should businesses. Mobile companies can benefit from BCE roaming as it provides accurate data and additional opportunities to boost their income. Invoice generation, payment integration, and dispute management can become much more streamlined and seamless with this system.  

References: 

  1. “Roaming,” Source: https://www.gsma.com/aboutus/gsm-technology/roaming
  2. “Telecom-Roaming Billing,” Source: https://www.tutorialspoint.com/telecom-billing/roaming-billing.htm
  3. “Transferred Account Procedures,” Source: http://www.billingdictionary.com/BillingDictionary-Transferred-Account-Procedures-TAP-Definition.html

4. “Billing and Charging Evolution Overview,” Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpm5kUJR6A8



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Kiara Dawson
Kiara Dawson comes from an Engineering background, with a specialization in Information Technology. She has a keen interest and expertise in Web Development, Data Analytics, and Research. She trusts in the process of growth through knowledge and hard work.

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