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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We are extremely grateful to Dr. Tripti Dhote, Faculty, Management, Symbiosis


Institute of Telecom Management, Pune for her guidance. The continuous
supervision & keen interest were a constant source of guidance during our project.

We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the institute for giving us
an opportunity to work on a year long research program which helped us explore a
different field of technology related to telecom. We would also like to extend our
thanks to our director sir, Prof. Sunil Patil and all our Faculty Members for their
invaluable guidance, constant encouragement made this project see the light of the
day.

ANIRUDH TALWAR
BONEY MATHAI
MANISHA P. TOPPO
MEGHA SHARMA
PARAMVEER KHOSA
SAURABH THAKRAL

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ABSTRACT
The art of revenue assurance is now undergoing a fundamental shift as
networks converge and metrics become more complex. . The scope of
revenue assurance strategies is widening to include more and more touch
points as telecom understand that revenue-assurance isn't as easy as it used
to be.
Our Main Areas of Concern include:

Will RA enable the Telecom companies to cope up with the challenges


of growth and innovation?

Role of RA in todays Hypercompetitive market.

Evolution of RA in accordance to the dynamic business challenges.

Significance of RA in Developed and Developing Economies.

Significance of RA with reference to new product launches, NGN and


3G services.

Role of RA in turning risk and opportunities into results.

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Contents
1. Title of the project
2. Executive Summary
3. Introduction of Revenue Assurance
Relevance and Justification
Need of Revenue Assurance
Benefits of Revenue Assurance
Challenges faced in Revenue Assurance
4. Research Methodology
5. Analysis of various revenue streams
Prepaid
Postpaid
Roaming
Value Added Services
Interconnect
6. Post 3G Scenario
7. Conclusion
8. References

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Chapter 1
Title of the Project

Analysis of revenue assurance practices across different revenue streams of a


service provider

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Chapter 2
Executive Summary

Historically, Revenue Assurance (RA) referred to systems, processes, and


personnel responsible for analysing the billions of daily usage transaction records
generated and processed by a Communications Service Providers (CSPs) network,
Business Support Systems (BSS) and, to a lesser degree, its Operations Support
Systems (OSS). The mission, in an effort to retain every billable amount of revenue,
was to ensure that no transactions were lost as they traversed each network node
and system.
In recent years, the scope for RA has expanded considerably. Today, a modern RA
solution is a robust platform designed to address such functions as data
management, analytics, fraud control, workflow, and results visualization. Through
the experiences of the past, RA departments are now a natural launch point for
strategic functions; especially margin management and a nascent function known as
business optimization. In so doing, RA integration with enterprise data warehouses,
business intelligence, and analytics platforms is increasing.
So, in our research we have tried to understand the dynamics behind the term
Revenue Assurance. We identified various revenue leakage modes being network
related, billing related, mediation related and many such more for all the revenue
streams of an operator i.e Postpaid, Prepaid, Roaming, Interconnect and VAS. In the
process we understood various facets of the operations and tracking mechanisms for
billing, mediation and rating. This helped us to gain an insight on the
interdependence of these and their cumulative effect on Revenue Assurance.
We, in our report have addressed these issues with the analysis of various
objectives of carrying out revenue assurance for a Telco. This report will also help
the readers to understand the various challenges faced and techniques to address
Leakage Management and Prevention and Risk Management which forms the
core of RA operations.

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We have also carried out a study as to what would be the effect of advent of 3G
services on Revenue Assurance. With the market being driven towards more of data
usage than voice centric, the variables involved in providing both prepaid as well as
postpaid services would deepen the need of carrying out checks and balances of
revenue modes.

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Chapter 3
Introduction of Revenue Assurance
Relevance and Justification
Indian telecom operators lose crores of Rupees every year due to revenue leaks and
other risk factors. This problem has worsened with the rollout of 3G services and the
consequent growth in consumption of value added services that will boost data
transfer and downloads to new heights.
Operators continue to struggle with a variety of issues from expanding their
subscriber base in saturated markets to managing stupendous subscriber growth in
markets that are still developing. More often than not, telecommunication operators
watch helplessly as crores of Rupees of their revenue goes unaccounted. Revenue
leakage is a fact of life, given the technical and business challenges in this
complicated environment. Companies worldwide take a 1.5-2% leakage in revenue
as normal. Now, due to competitive pressures, companies are beginning to focus on
internally tightening their processes to curb revenue losses.
According to a recent survey, developing markets face higher revenue leakage than
developed markets due to rapid growth and technological change. Various revenue
assurance research reports say that the degree of exposure lies in the range of 10%
to 15% of a CSPs gross revenue, depending upon factors such as networks, type of
services, geography, and revenue assurance maturity level.
Globally, operators lose between 12-15% of their revenue every year largely
because of revenue leakage related issues. This can be broadly classified into two
categoriesinternal as well as external. The internal aspect is everything that
happens due to inefficiency within the internal domain of the telecom operator. The
external aspect is largely because of fraud-related issues or partner settlement
issues etc.
Conventional sources of revenue leakage typically include system integration issues
resulting from the diversity of the technological landscape for providing services, the
complexity involved in integrating varied BSS/OSS, inadequate enforcement of
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operational policies by systems as well as personnel and infrastructure constraints


namely bandwidth, security and facilities.
With the advent of 3G services, communication service providers are providing a
whole new range of services including triple play, video on demand, video streaming,
m-commerce etc. This means that complex OSS, flexible billing options and next
generation charging gateways are being deployed, which has resulted in greater
avenues for revenue leakage. The integration challenges with respect to technology
remain with 3G and LTE as these next generation systems need to co-exist and
interoperate with legacy systems. Next generation services come with their own set
of leakage issues related to content settlement, advertising revenue settlement,
policy enforcement and real time rating and charging.
There needs to be strong enforcement of business rules and transparency in the
value chain to minimize revenue leakage across all the players in the ecosystem.
Today, the greatest challenge for operators is to establish a framework to cultivate
sustained profitable growth. The environment is competitive and it demands rapid
response from operators to ever changing business and technology environments
but offers little flexibility and this is where the revenue management comes in.
Revenue Assurance is becoming proactive rather than reactive. Earlier, it was a
reactive function. Revenue was lost and then operators would try to find and plug the
leakage. Now, operators want to identify the loopholes even before they build up and
try and plug them. As a result these efforts are being closely tied to areas like BI,
analytics etc. Also, the IT and network side of the organization are being realigned to
plug these revenue gaps. Most operators have realized that they need executive
sponsorships to run this, as loopholes can exist across the organization and they
need a high level drive to plug this.

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Need of Revenue Assurance in Telecom Sector


Revenue assurance has emerged in recent years to become an increasingly critical
component in the transformation of telecommunications operations. Revenue
Assurance is the activity, which is performed to detect a revenue leakage and
subsequently to prevent the leakage. Revenue Assurance assesses and measures
the core Revenue Management Chain. It guarantees that the Revenue Management
Chain is functioning as it is specified. Catering to the telecom frauds can be
considered as an Extended Revenue Assurance.
There are several factors contributing to focus on revenue assurance by telecom
operators
Regulatory Pressure
Continued scrutiny and pressure by regulators mean todays Telcos executives must
be able to point specifically and definitively to proof for the numbers they report to
stakeholders and the public. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and a host of other regulatory
requirements are forcing carriers around the world to rethink how they track their
network and billing activities. Executives now require more comprehensive and
transparent forms of revenue assurance (RA) to access the numbers and maintain
the necessary integrity.
Profit Pressure
For most Telcos, the highly profitable days of the past are gone, and surviving todays competitive market requires them to tighten their belts and discover any way
possible to increase earnings. By determining how revenues are being missed, RA
can generate an essential source of previously unrealized income.
Merger Pressure
Telcos that participate in a merger find their own special brand of revenue management pressure. When multiple mediation billing and other systems from disparate
companies are forced to work together, it is increasingly difficult to keep errors out of
the revenue management process.
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Convergence Process
The dream of each telecom operations manager is a world where both the network
environment and the billing environment function in a completely converged
framework. But the gradual migration towards this scenario increases pressure on
existing systems and operations to work at maximum capability and flexibility, which
ultimately generates more errors and risks.
Innovation Pressure
For telecommunications companies, the last five years have generated more radical
renovation of network infrastructures and business operating assumptions than all
the years before that combined. Each month, hundreds of new technologies, products, price plans, and marketing approaches force network and systems managers
to continuously stretch and challenge their revenue management capabilities. As the
rate of this innovation increases, the failure rate for RA systems will undoubtedly
grow as well.

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The following picture shows the results of a survey by KPMG to find out the factors
most likely to transform the Telecommunications industry. This reflects the growth of
mobile banking and payments, which is creating new, independent revenue streams
with accompanying billing and security issues.

An overwhelming proportion (94


percent)

believe

the

threat

of

revenue leakage and fraud will go


up, and half think this rise will be
significant.

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Benefits of Revenue Assurance


Revenue Assurance solution can benefit any Telecom industry in the following ways:

Identify opportunities for cash, revenue generation, margins and profitability

Identify, measure and prevent the risk points for Revenue leakage

Identify process Improvement and revenue recovery opportunities

Prevent billing inconsistencies before they reach the customer bill and
increase billing accuracy

Reducing operational costs

Focus on customer acquisitions and retention propositions

Divert the Revenue for more profitable endeavors

Improve Customer Experience

Challenges faced in conducting Revenue Assurance


As Telcos move deeper into next-generation services and content-driven service
environments, Revenue Assurance becomes both, more complex and more critical
The major challenges faced in carrying out Revenue Assurance are mentioned
below:

Complex processes and practices:

As Telcos operate under a stricter regulatory regime, new rules are forcing them
to increase their internal control and to ensure generating Revenue at highest
levels of efficiency. As a result; expansion of product portfolios, networks and
services, operations, processes and revenue chains are becoming highly
complicated which makes RA difficult for implementation.

Technical complexity:

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Accelerated growth in data, IP and real-time services due to dynamically evolving


technologies, continuous demand for new services, complex processes and
business systems infrastructure adds complexity in system configuration thus
hindering exposure for RA.

Data availability

Revenue data is difficult to obtain- with too many sources of data and too many
reports. Extracting the right data with no integrity and quality issues is a big
challenge to start with. This leads to difficulty in quantifying Revenue losses.

People factor

Need of competent RA analysts and Subject matter experts with right skills and
adequate knowledge to not only identify suspicious data but also perform quick
investigation and suggest quick wins is an important but difficult task.

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Chapter 4
Research Methodology
This report has been prepared
After detailed study and learning about:

Company, its products and its capabilities

Global and Indian market

Top tools, applications and companies in the market

Perusal of numerous research reports, articles, blogs from M2M experts and
whitepapers from the industry.
On the basis of discussions held with mentors at ConnectM Technologies
Analyzing the results of survey and finding out the requirements in the
industry

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Chapter 5
Analysis of various revenue streams
PREPAID
Overview
A prepaid mobile phone, also commonly referred to as pay-as-you-go, pay-as-youtalk, pay and go, prepaid wireless, is a mobile phone for which credit is purchased in
advance of service use. The purchased credit is used to pay for mobile phone
services at the point the service is accessed or consumed. If there is no available
credit then access to the requested service is denied by the mobile phone network.
Users are able to top up their credit at any time using a variety of payment
mechanisms.
Unlike postpaid phones where subscribers have to terminate their contracts, it is not
easy for an operator to know when a prepaid subscriber has left the network. To free
up resources on the network for new customers, an operator will periodically delete
prepaid SIM cards which have not been used for some time, at which point their
service (and its associated phone number) is discontinued. The rules for when this
deletion happens vary from operator to operator.
Prepaid Billing Process

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When customer makes a call, prepaid switching gateway captures the calling
number and sends the account information to the real time billing system.

Real time billing systems using the above information, authenticates the
identity of the user, calculates the customer account's remaining balance using the
rating tariff table and maximum allowable duration of the call and sends this
information to the prepaid gateway.

The gateway establishes the call.

During the call, gateway monitors the call so that the user do not exceed the
maximum allowable call duration.

When the call is over, the gateway sends the actual call duration to the
prepaid billing system, which then calculates the actual call cost and updates the
account balance, decreasing the remaining balance.

Areas of leakage
Conventional sources of revenue leakage typically include system integration issues
resulting from the diversity of the technological landscape for providing services, the
complexity involved in integrating varied BSS/OSS, inadequate enforcement of
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operational policies by systems as well as personnel and infrastructure constraints


namely bandwidth, security and facilities.
However, the more serious causes of leakage are related to the unique dynamics of
the Indian telecom landscape. With newer service providers entering the market,
existing operators face the challenge of sustaining market share. A couple of years
back, India had only six major operators. Today there are over fifteen of them with
more operators waiting to enter the market. Moreover, these providers are using
near desperate measures for grabbing subscribers and this is leading to sharp
declines in ARPU and AMPU. This has resulted in the formation of a larger cloud
over operators than would have been the case with simply conventional forms of
revenue leakage.
The main area of leakage in Prepaid are :1. CDR Related Leakage The leakage due to CDRs can occur basically at two
levels
1.1 Network Level

Call records not passed from switches Due to errors in switches, the
CDR go unaccounted or are just absent. The service hence is used but there
is no track of it.

Call records not processed correctly by Mediation The CDR are


forwarded correctly by the physical systems but at the mediation level they are
unprocessed and hence loss of revenue

Call records not processed correctly by billing system Just like at


mediation level, the CDR are processed correctly by previous systems but the
physical devices at billing are faulty and dont bill for the service used. The
problem can be in the rating or charging systems

1.2 Mediation Level

Incorrect formatting of CDR to forward At the mediation, the CDR are


filtered and refined in a format that it can be understood by Billing systems. If

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the system is not synchronised with the billing system requirements, then the
CDR become waste for billing and are unable to be billed

Failure to filter records correctly The CDR need to be filtered at the


granular level for proper rating and charging at the billing systems. If not
filtered correctly, the billing systems are unable to identify and charge the call
resulting in loss of revenue.

2. IN Related Leakage Unlike post-paid, at prepaid the CDR mediation check &
reconciliation process is done by the intelligent network.
The accounting operations are executed in real time by a system with little manual
intervention possible. In addition to CDR related vulnerabilities, there are few
other areas in IN susceptible to leakage
2.1 Programming errors Due to increased competition, new and complex
services and plans are released in the market without configuring the IN
database.One such problem occurs when the IN fails to accurately decrement
the voucher database and hence sizable revenue is lost.
2.2 Internal fraud - Employees enter invalid vouchers, or programmatically alter
voucher balances bypassing the whole voucher management system and so
talktime is generated without ever realizing it.

3. Fraud Related Leakage Fraud represents the deliberate intention to avoid


payment. There is many ways for fraudsters to exploit prepaid services.
Certain frauds especially internal frauds occur when fraudsters are able to exploit
data integrity issues or process loopholes.
Few areas of fraud in prepaid scenario are

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3.1. Physical Distribution - This is historically a very high fraud area. These
frauds are related to starter kit distribution, voucher generation and
distribution.

Can arise if secret PIN are not communicated to vendor in secure manner

SIM cards in warehouse are not kept track of and activated before sale

RCVs printed and profile on VMS dont match

3.2 Sales and Provisioning Fraud Majorly caused by vendors or internal


employees. Main ways in which such frauds occur are

Promotional schemes not deactivated on a timely basis.

Fake sales recorded to gain sales commission

Accounts in valid state with account balance greater than default balance

3.3 Internal Subscription Fraud Cause by internal employees, people who


have access to systems and network. Subscriber attains a prepaid connection
and an accomplice within the company removes the prepaid flag from HLR.
Subscriber uses the service and system assumes it to be a postpaid
connection. At the end of billing cycle, the CDR forwarded to postpaid billing
system are rejected and hence revenue is lost.

Plugging the Leaks

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Despite the increased awareness of the importance of revenue assurance,


telecom carriers worldwide are facing growing revenue losses, as convergence,
increased complexity and the changing nature of services are making it difficult
to tackle leaks.
There is a greater need for plugging revenue leakage so as to reduce customer
churn, to maintain billing accuracy standards and to safeguard against loss of
revenue. Even today, about one-fifth of operators worldwide do not have a
formalized revenue assurance organization structure. Either internal audit groups
or other functions perform revenue assurance activities, usually in a limited and
reactive manner.
Most telcos in India have a revenue assurance team or competency within their
IT set-up today. This team conducts regular audits to identify loopholes or points
from where leakage is happening. The team then works proactively with the
larger IT team within the telco to plug these holes. At the same time, some telcos
outsource this audit to vendors who specialize in revenue assurance and offer
solutions to capture the revenue which would otherwise be lost.
With the ongoing rush to launch new services, offers and bundles, CSP teams
continue to miss processes in their operational environments, thereby resulting
in improvements in one domain and failures in others. A strong system is the
most effective way to tackle critical challenges across the revenue chain. The
key components of an efficient system would include strong workflow
management, effective case management, proactive monitoring methods,
reconciliation and data integrity check, powerful and simple to use ETL tools,
enhanced trending capability, integrated rating engine, out-of-the-box reports,
dashboards, KPIs and audits. These features collectively help in identifying
unbilled subscribers and in detecting potential revenue loss issues even prior to
the launch of a new service, proactive risk reduction, reducing unnecessary
expenditure and managing inter-carrier and partner expenses.
Major assurance activities that can be undertaken to plug and reduce the
revenue leakages are 1. Reconciliation of MSC and IN (CDR Reconciliation)
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The only way to ensure that all customer calls are accurately accounted for the
IN is by reconciliation of the CDRs created by the MSC against the CDRs
generated by the IN.
This can be done by modifying the process to establish a mediation feed that will
identify, filter and prepare all of the prepaid CDRs coming from the MSC. Note:
many network managers disable the generation of CDRs at the switch in order to
minimize CDR traffic. Hence, it will be required to establish a limited number of
feeds, for a limited period of time to generate sufficient input for the required
reconciliation.

Establish an IN CDR feed for a limited time period

Create parallel databases - one to store IN CDRs and another to store MSC
CDRs
Create a set of reconciliation reports to compare the two sources, and identify

any discrepancies

2. IN assurance Since billing is handled by IN for prepaid services, any error at


this point can prove to be fatal. Leakage can arise due to system issues or due
to frauds. Few steps that can be taken to cater to these vulnerabilities are

Periodic Voucher Balance Reports - A snapshot of starting balances for all


customers at a specified time [daily, weekly, or monthly] plus reports on all of
the additions voucher balances, keeping track of all decrements made against
these balances. This reduces both fraud and program error.

Customer Audit Reports- same kind of reporting as voucher balance reports


but on an individual customer basis.

Test Calls using selected accounts and specific phone calls to


predetermined phone numbers, of predetermined duration. The voucher

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management database is reviewed to ensure the appropriate accounting


occurred within the system

3. Physical Distribution Assurance - Providing assurance on the distribution and


management of vouchers is a process that is best borrowed from the retail
industry. Retails have been buying and distributing small items of high value for
many years. Some of the techniques employed to assure this revenue stream
include:

Inventory and Distribution Management Systems- these systems are


created to track vouchers across their entire lifecycle, from creation,
purchase, distribution until their ultimate activation by the customer. This type
of inventory management can provide an incredible increase in confidence
regarding voucher management, and has resulted in the identification of many
leakage points for customers in the past

Voucher Tracking and Audit- many times, organizations need the help of an
outsider, to simply review their voucher management operations, and
determine if there is a problem or not. In order to accomplish this, the auditor
needs to understand how the entire voucher management process works, and
where the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in that process might be

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POSTPAID
Overview
The postpaid mobile phone is a mobile phone for which service is provided by a prior
arrangement with a mobile network operator. The user in this situation is billed after
the fact according to their use of mobile services at the end of each month. Typically,
the customer's contract specifies a limit or "allowance" of minutes, text messages
etc., and the customer will be billed at a flat rate for any usage equal to or less than
that allowance. Any usage above that limit incurs extra charges.
Postpaid service mobile phone typically requires two essential components in order
to make the 'post-usage' model viable:
1 Credit history/Contractual commitment: This is the basis on which the service
provider is able to trust the customer with paying their bill when its due and to
have legal resource in case of non-payment
2 Service tenure: Most postpaid providers require customers to sign long term
(1-3 year) contracts committing to use of the service. Failure to complete the
term would make the customer liable for early termination fees.

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Postpaid Revenue Cycle


The typical Postpaid Revenue Cycle can be divided into three categories:

Sales and Provisioning

Chargeable Event Generation and Processing

Collections and Credit Risk Management

How Postpaid works


Network elements (like switches, SMSC) produce raw usage called Usage Detail
Records (UDRs) or Call Detail Records (CDRs), which contain information required
by the billing system:

Calling number (A number)

Called number (the number receiving the call) (B number)


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When the call started (date and time)

Call duration

Call Type (MOC, MTC, etc., MOC stands for Mobile Originated Call and MTC stands
for Mobile Terminated Call)
The above raw CDRs from network elements and also from other service providers
are received by the billing system and the billing system converts these into a format
understandable by the system. The above formatted/converted CDR is then guided
to find the customer/account to which the call should be charged and then rate the
event accordingly.
The above rated CDRs are then stored in the billing data store, and on the billing
cycle date, the billing process picks up these rated CDRs and processes these and
renders bill/invoice, taking into account, the payments, taxes, discounts, etc. The
customer then pays the bill and the billing system is updated with the payment
details.
Areas of Leakage
Network-Related Leakage

Signaling errors on switches


Call records not passed from switches
Call records not processed correctly by Mediation
Call records not processed correctly by billing system
Incorrect metering
System errors
Data corruption
System capacity mismatches (for example, overflows)
Misaligned processing or logic rules
Failure to activate or provision the customer properly
Failure to track customer activity properly
Discord between operations and systems
Improper registration and management of network inventory

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Mediation-Related Leakage

Failure to filter records correctly


Failure to balance batches (in = out)
Failure to clear suspense fi les
Incorrect application of customer identifiers
Incorrect application of policies
Incorrect formatting of call detail records (CDR) to forward
Dropped records
Duplicated records

Billing-Related Leakage

Confusion over who bills what


Usage beyond billing stop
Incorrect call plans
Incorrect pricing tables or pricing plans
Over-discounting
Billing errors
Poor suspense management
Incorrect billing setup
Correct amounts, wrong currency
Late billing
Billing the wrong elements (for example, volume rather than duration)

Fraud-Related Leakage

Internal fraud
Theft of minutes
External fraud
Identity fraud
Usage fraud
Billing fraud

Collections- and Dunning-Related Leakage

Failure to track old accounts


Misapplication of credits
Ineffective dunning practices
Failure to feedback dunning lessons to Marketing, Sales, and Product

Planning
Credit policy management

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Provisioning and Customer-Service-Related Leakage

Physical circuits not ceased when account terminated


Over-provisioning
Provisioning without notification of billing start
Over-budget provisioning
Abuse of shortcut or fast-track processes
Improper update of customer status
Improper update of systems based on change in customer status

Plugging the Leaks


Revenue assurance of postpaid billing systems can be split into three areas:

CDR Pre-cycle Processing

Cycle Processing

Post Cycle

CDR Pre-Cycle Processing


Pre-cycle includes CDR generation, collection, mediation and routing to the billing
system. CDRs received by the billing system, are in a pre-processed format.
CDR Preprocessing includes:

Identification and formatting of the CDRs - includes pre-rating [assigning


an estimated value onto each call in order to track the amount owed by the
customer at any time]

Depositing the CDRs into the appropriate cycle file - holds all CDRs for
customers sharing a billing cycle, until the end of the cycle when their bills are
generated.

Suspension and Error processing for CDRs not ready to be placed into
cycle files.

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Pre Cycle Assurance


Pre-Cycle

Assurance

Validating

the

duplicates

assurance

integrity

of

on

the

mediation

CDRs

system:
accepted

Validating the integrity of the batches of CDRs sent from mediation or other sources
Checking that the formatting, suspension and erroring of records is being done
correctly
Methods used include:
1 Sample audits of specific CDRs associated with different customers, events or
conditions
2 Comprehensive balance audits of complete "batches" of CDRs
3 Comprehensive cycle audits of all of the CDRs for a particular bill cycle
These audits require the analyst to gain access to stores of CDRs at multiple points
along the pre-cycle trail, and reconciling CDR integrity and type counts.
Cycle Processing [Bill Generation]
At the end of a pre-scheduled cycle, the billing system accepts and sorts all CDRs
held in a cycle, and processes them through formal rating and billing processes. This
includes:
1 Rating of CDRs x Customer
2 Application of monthly fees to each bill
3 Application of unpaid balances and adjustments from earlier cycles

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Billing Cycle Integrity Assurance


The integrity of the billing cycle run typically involves the tracing CDRs through the
entire cycle process. This requires the analyst to fully understand the billing system
operations, so that audits of all the different tables in different parts of the cycle can
be performed.
Post Cycle Revenue Assurance
Post Cycle Revenue Assurance is a series of checks and audits run against the
results of the billing cycle run. This ensures that the billing cycle ran processed data
correctly before the bills were published.
This may also include "spot audits" of individual customer bills, and "batch audits" of
the totals generated by the cycle.
The steps in post-cycle assurance include:
1 Extraction of a sampling of customer invoices and the manual validation of
their integrity
2 Comprehensive "batch total" runs and comparisons against historical results
and against forecast

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3 Comprehensive audits of revenue totals against network activity to assure that


the appropriate revenue realization levels are being met
Frauds
Fraud in the telecom industry refers to as an intentional or deliberate misuse of
services by the subscriber in order to gain an unfair advantage or to avoid
payment for the used services. Fraud is a problem impacting revenues and costs
for a telecom operator. Growing concerns over fraud in the industry can be
attributed to the following reasons:
Increasing Volumes: Telecom operators are facing rapid growth rates in
subscriber base and usage patterns of subscribers. This poses scalability issues
as processes and systems may not be scalable in alignment with business
growth rates.
Complexity of Systems: In order to combat competition and provide unique
service proposition to customers, telcos across the world are launching
innovative products and services. These services are technically more complex
and system intensive, leading to specialized knowledge for accurate configuration
and operation of such services.
The above factors can lead to significant process and system vulnerabilities that
can be exploited, resulting in fraud related revenue leakage. The following picture
shows various areas susceptible to Frauds

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Subscription Fraud
Subscription fraud involves setting up a false identity to gain access to network
services with no intention to pay for services, either by creating a fictitious identity or
by fraudulently using the identity of another party to pay for those services. A single
fraudster can wreak havoc by setting up multiple accounts and thereby racking up
multiple bills, or by causing an unsuspecting subscriber to be billed for the services
used. Both of these scenarios routinely result in large losses and increases to
uncollected revenues. The best way to prevent subscription fraud is to perform
thorough customer verification checks, such as credit references and subscriber
services usage analysis that profiles an individuals calling patterns regardless of the
phone they may be using.
These steps help establish a true profile of behavior patterns, so that individuals can
be uniquely identified regardless of the credentials they supply. Subscription fraud,
which occurs at the time of applying for a service, can be thwarted by confirming that
none of the applicants details are present in any known fraudster list. Further
measures include obtaining an initial deposit and limiting usage with controls such as
credit

limits.

Premium Rate Service (PRS) Fraud


The simplest version of premium rate service fraud is to artificially inflate the amount
of traffic to a legitimate PRS service, most commonly 900 numbers, either manually
or by the use of auto-dialer equipment. The main characteristic that fraudsters look
for is any service where the operator has to share part of the revenue with the PRS
provider.
This type of service is particularly susceptible to what is known as artificial inflation of
traffic where a person makes repeated calls to a PRS number to trigger a payment
without

any

intent

to

pay

the

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subscriber

charges.

In addition, PRS frauds are often used in conjunction with roaming and subscription
fraud. For example, a fraudster can create a premium rate service by setting up a
server in a country with a weak prosecution history. Once the service has been
established, the fraudster will use identity theft and/or subscription fraud to establish
a large number of wireless accounts. The fraudster will then ship the phones outside
the operators country and begin dialing the PRS number with the new phones. This
scam takes advantage of the delay in usage reporting between GSM operators to
allow large calling volumes to go undetected. It is quite feasible for the fraudster to
generate $1 million in hard-dollar losses for the operator over the span of a
weekend.

To prevent this type of fraud, monitor usage patterns to identify unusual, often highusage call patterns to PRS numbers. For example, if there is a sudden increase in
traffic for a particular PRS number, especially if the traffic originates from a small
number of calling line identities, its worth the time and effort to look a bit closer.
Perform credit and other reference checks on the owners of PRS numbers when
they submit an application. In addition, risk of this class of fraud can be limited by
profiling the traffic received by PRS numbers and raising alerts when usage trends
are

liable

to

see

significant

change

in

their

behavioural

pattern.

One solution for PRS/roaming/subscription fraud is to evaluate the location of the


initial phone registration to the network and/or the first few phone calls made. If the
phone is first activated outside the home network or home country, the operator
should shut it down, or at least route calls to the fraud department.
Roaming Fraud
Abusing roaming facilities to make free calls is also a costly problem. Roaming
cloning fraudwhere subscriber identity numbers are used in another markethas
been the most widespread type of this kind of fraud. Roaming fraud also can
increase

the

incidence

of

PRS

fraud,

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as

described

above.

For example, roaming records for an operator in Northern Europe were routinely
received from the visited network 24 hours after the calls took place. Since the fraud
department did not work over the weekend, handsets purchased on a Thursday were
quickly shipped to another country where the fraudsters were able to get three days
of fraudulent use from the phones before any problem was detected.
To prevent this type of fraud, monitor the usage patterns of both inbound and
outbound roamersfor example, develop regular high-usage reports that are based
on call attempts as well as call volume. Roaming fraud often exploits the increased
delay between service usage in the visited network and the subsequent delivery of
billing information to the home network. Risk of this exposure can be limited by
capturing and analyzing the near real-time delivery of this information between
networks.
The exchange of roaming information between operators has traditionally been
associated with delays. Within the GSM sector, an operator has up to 30 days to
exchange this information. However, much more use of information generated by the
home network (versus relying on the visited network) can and should be usedin
particular, SS7 signaling information and the introduction of CAMEL services. The
GSM Association itself is working to advance this process with the introduction of
NRTRDEnear

real-time

roaming

data

exchange.

Internal Fraud
Internal fraud has many faces, from applying services directly onto the switch without
amending the billing system and suspending the generation of usage information, to
the reactivation of used prepaid voucher numbers. Other examples include removing
records from billing systems, creating fictitious accounts/customers/employees,
removing call detail records (CDRs) from the billing cycle, or just manipulating the
accounting and credit processes. All these factors can mean lost or incorrect billing
records,

more

non-payments

and

general

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customer

dissatisfaction.

When looking at specific sources of internal fraud, one must consider that different
departments have different opportunities to perpetrate it. Eg: people within network
operations can suppress the generation of usage information on certain routes and
trunk lines. Folks in billing operations can modify or prevent billing for certain
numbers or groups of numbers. And customer service reps can steal identity and
payment information, leading to credit card scams against customers and operator.
A clear-cut example occurred when someone within the network group of a Tier 1
wireless carrier simply changed the feature flag of certain prepaid phones to be sent
to the postpaid billing system. The postpaid billing system rightfully deleted the
records because it didnt have any accounts to apply charges to. The person then
sold unlimited usage prepaid phones and pocketed the cash. This specific instance
resulted

in

significant

loss

to

the

tune

of

almost

$2

million.

Todays revenue assurance tools are likely to detect most cases of internal fraud that
create an imbalance between usage patterns and billed revenues. Periodic audits of
all network equipment configurations and creating specific internal fraud reporting
mechanisms that include checks of employees will quickly reduce internal fraud.
Technical Fraud (Cloning, Clipping, SIM Boxing)
Technical fraud involves stealing services from other users by using sophisticated
equipment that now is readily available on the market. For example, cloning SIMs
and the International Mobile Equipment Identities (IMEIs) of handsets can cause
inaccurate billing for genuine customers, as well as elevating costs generated by
trying to resolve customer complaints.

To detect and prevent this growing form of fraud, analyze network traffic to identify
multiple calls made at the same time (collision checks) and from the same number.
Also, conduct velocity checks to easily detect calls made from geographically remote
places, usually within an unfeasibly short period of time, to identify specific handsets
that have been cloned. This fraud is preventable by using encryption methodologies
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on handsets. Enforcing PIN protection can prevent unauthorized access to the SIM.
Dealer Fraud
Many operators employ resellers to help extend their reach. Unfortunately, unsavory
resellers can sometimes directly exploit these agreements. For example, some
dealers may simply falsify sales records to claim grossly inflated sales commissions.
Other examples include reporting sold SIMs as lost, reselling expired vouchers, and
relaxing subscription requirements to increase sales and thereby obtain fraudulent
commissions. These frauds leave a trail of unpaid bills and unaccounted-for usage.
How can it be detected and prevented? Monitor subscriber behavior for connections
sold by dealers. For instance, run regular reports on the number of sold SIMS and/or
handsets that have not been activated. Also, most operators can quickly analyze
dealer performance based on simple margin calculations to take into account
revenue generated versus costs incurred, rather than solely by the number of sales
achieved. Its also a good idea to perform basic credit and other reference checks on
the owners of dealerships when they submit an application. In addition, dont forget
to regularly analyze the dealer incentive and commission agreements to identify
loopholes that should be closed in order to prevent unscrupulous dealers from
exploiting them for their very own benefits involved for their own good.
Operators can never afford to let their defenses down when it comes to telecom
fraud. Many threats, both internal and external, need to be considered, and
mechanisms must be put in place to eliminate or at least minimize those risks.
Fraudsters, like operators, can and will take advantage of the new range of nextgeneration services that are coming on to the market. With the introduction of new
services comes an ever-increasing array of methods to defraud operators. Pay
particular attention to services with higher content value, such as music downloads
and video clips, which both increase the value of individual services but also make
fraudulent activity more attractive. Technology solutions are at hand to combat fraud,
but they are only effective when operators are fully aware of all the potential threats,
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and when they integrate the necessary due diligence and related processes into their
everyday business operations.

ROAMING
Overview
The roaming business has been highly lucrative for operators for years. But, times
have changed. Today, operators are facing immense pressure on margin due to the
prolonged economic downturn, rapidly falling roaming rates and increasing
regulatory intervention, among other factors. The good news is that with the
explosive adoption of smartphones and tablets, there is increasing demand for
constant connectivity and consistent quality of service, at home and while roaming
abroad. As a result, roaming traffic is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
The question is, will operator profits grow as well? On the network side of the house,
the signaling network is the nervous system of an operators international and
roaming business. If signaling fails, the operators entire international and roaming
operations come to a stunning halt. So, quite naturally, operators have focused on
reliability and quality of the signaling network. However, security and signaling data
of the network have never been thought of as major profit drivers for roaming
business.

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Roaming is the ability for a customer of mobile communications to automatically


make and receive telephone calls, send and receive data, or access other services
while travelling outside the geographical coverage area of the home network, by
means of using a network of another operator.
Roaming can be either national roaming or international roaming. National roaming
means that mobile subscribers make use of another network in geographical areas
where there own operator does not have coverage. This is e.g. used by operators
who do not have complete coverage in a country.
International roaming is used when mobile subscribers travel abroad and make use
of the network of an operator in the foreign country. International mobile roaming is a
service that allows mobile users to continue to use their mobile phone or other
mobile device to make and receive voice calls and text messages, browse the
internet, and send and receive emails, while visiting another country. Roaming
extends the coverage of the home operators retail voice and SMS services, allowing
the mobile user to continue using their home operator phone number and data
services within another country. The seamless extension of coverage is enabled by a
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wholesale roaming agreement between a mobile users home operator and the
visited mobile operator network. The roaming agreement addresses the technical
and commercial components required to enable the service. International mobile
roaming is one of a wider range of communications services offered to mobile users
while travelling abroad. Other services include hotel services, Wi-Fi, national global
SIMs cards, multiple SIM card mobile handsets, and local pre-paid SIMs cards.
Exchange of Roaming Data Records
If a service provider does not have a network coverage in a particular city or country
then this service provider makes a roaming agreement with another service provider
having network in that city or country. As per this agreement, another service
provider provides all the available services to the roaming customer of first service
provider.

Fig: Exchange of Roaming Data Records


CDRs generated in one roaming partner's area are collected and rated by that
roaming partner and finally they are sent to the actual service provider of the
roaming customer. Actual service provider charges the end customer for all the
roaming services provided based on their predefined service charges.
Two roaming partners settle their financials on monthly basis by exchanging actual
roaming CDRs and reports based on those CDRs.
HPMN and VPMN
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The Home Public Mobile Network is the network from the operator by which a mobile
subscriber has a subscription. The term is used as opposed to Visited Public Mobile
Network (VPMN).
The Visited Public Mobile Network is the network used by a mobile subscriber while
roaming. The term is used as opposed to Home Public Mobile Network (HPMN).
Clearinghouse
There are well known bodies who interface between different roaming partners to
help them to exchange their CDRs, setting up roaming agreements and resolving
any dispute.
Clearinghouses receive billing records from one roaming partner for the inbound
roamers and submit billing records to another roaming partner for which this roamer
would be called out-bound roamer.
What is TAP3?
Transferred Account Procedure version 3 (TAP3) is the process that allows a visited
network operator (VPMN) to send billing records of roaming subscribers to their
respective home network operator (HPMN). TAP3 is the latest version of the
standard and will enable billing for a host of new services that networks intend to
offer their customers.
Clearinghouse uses TAP3 protocol to exchange all the CDRs between different
roaming partners. TAP3 defines how and what information on roamed usage must be
passed between Network Operators. These files are exchanged using simple FTP
connection.
Roaming Billing
Mobile subscriber travels to another country and creates usage on the foreign
network. In order to bill the subscriber this information has to be passed back to the
subscribers home network. The foreign network will collect information on the usage
from it is switches etc. and then create TAP files containing the information set out in
the standard.
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The files are then EXPORTED (on a regular basis generally at least one file per day)
to the home operator who will IMPORT them and then use the information to invoice
the subscriber. The foreign operator will rate the calls and then charge the
subscribers home network for all the calls within a file. The home operator can
markup or re-rate the calls in order to make revenue.

Methods of Roaming Reconciliation


The reconciliation of roaming traffic is a little based on two principle methods:
TAP file processing via a clearinghouse
Under this technique a third party clearinghouse organization works as the
intermediary on TAP file processes. This helps standardize and regularize the
process of reconciliation between carriers, and allows each carrier to concentrate on
the creation of one standard roaming interface and methodology, eliminating a large
amount of duplication of effort.
In spite of format standardization, each Telco to Telco relationship involves different
datasets, systems, and rules for interpretation, depending upon the current intercarrier regulations. Some of the more common assurance processes include:
Verify all inter-carrier calls are captured and processed by the switch and
mediation and forwarded to the interconnect or TAP processing program
correctly.
Verify

the

interconnection

or

roaming

traffic

processing

system

is

consolidating traffic and rating it correctly.


Reconcile own system totals [interconnect or roaming] against invoice
amounts from other carrier or clearinghouse.
Verify Inter-carrier CDR Capture and Processing - Inter-carrier traffic handling
within the network/CDR handling process:

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Verify the CDR generation, capture and processing systems are


performing accurately. All intercarrier CDRs originate from the
POI [point of interconnect] switch

Check network, mediation and CDR transport processes

Verify the Integrity of the Inter-carrier Billing System - review of the integrity of
the inter-carrier billing system [TAP file processing system]. Validate that the
numbers created by the system accurately reflect the numbers from the CDRs
received. The method used depends upon which of the many different brands
of interconnection or TAP file handling system is used, and the nature of the
traffic being traced. Generally, inter-carrier billing systems optionally perform
all or some the following functions:
Summarize of the calls and duration of calls for each carrier

Execute a rating engine to rate all of the CDRs presented

Calculate a summary level of billing totals for each carrier

Verification of these functions is typically done on a carrier by carrier basis by


developing summary totals for each of these parameters [from the mediation
system or data warehouse used to stage CDRs], then verifying those totals
against the reports issued by the system.
Direct inter-carrier reconciliation
Similar to the standard interconnect technique. This is the most lucrative area for
leakage identification and cost savings with inter-carrier traffic. This involves a simple
audit to check the accuracy of the amounts claimed by other carriers. Millions of
dollars per month have been known to be uncovered and corrected by revenue
assurance activities in this area. The best method is to:

Create a special file, database or data warehouse capable of handling


extremely high volumes of data [one or more months of history].

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Generate detailed "views" of target carrier traffic.

Check the numbers proposed by the other carrier match those from the
data store.

If not, drill down into the detail, and backtrack into the integrity of the
CDR handling flow to confirm your findings.

Use this proof to mediate a resolve and if desired, notify regulators.

How mobile roaming works

Figure 1.2 the shows commercial and technical details for international mobile
roaming. The diagram focuses on the international roaming wholesale and retail
arrangements, for simplicity.
The mobile user (Mobile User A) has an international roaming service with their
home operator (Home Operator) and is automatically connected to a visited network
(Visited Operator A) while roaming. Mobile User A is automatically granted access to
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Visited Operator As network when arriving in the visited country by an exchange of a


data between Home Operator and Visited Operator A, where Visited Operator A
confirms Mobile User A is a roaming customer with Home Operator. As such, the
wholesale roaming agreement between Visited Operator A and Home Operator
specifies how this data is to be provided to the visited operator. Home Operator
usually has wholesale roaming agreements with more than one operator in the same
visited country, which in this case is Visited Operator A and a second network,
Visited Operator B.
As a result, Mobile User A can call home using either visited operator networks, both
of which use international transit services to carry the call back to Mobile User As
home country. Mobile User A pays a retail price to Home Operator for the roaming
service and does not pay Visited Operator A. Provided Mobile User B is not also
roaming, they will not incur any extra charges to receive a call from, or to make calls
to Mobile User A. Visited Operator A sends transferred account procedure (TAP) files
to a clearing house which forwards them to the Home Operator. TAP files are used
for billing of calls while roaming. Home Operator can then pay Visited Operator A the
wholesale charges as per call volumes in the TAP file and rates in the wholesale
roaming agreement. Visited Operator A pays an international carrier (International
Carrier) for carrying the call and handing over the call to Home Operator.
International Carrier pays Home Operator a termination rate for terminating the call
in the home country.
3.5 Roaming risks and controls
3.5.1 Partner provisioning

Certain roaming call scenarios not correctly provisioned by operators


Control
-Monitor the process of performing testing for all the roaming scenarios and
ensure that the stipulated services and tariffs are implemented on the network
elements

PLMN ID not configured in billing System for roaming partner leading to TAPOUT files not being generated
Control

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-Perform a periodic check to ensure that PLMN IDs for all roaming partners
are configured
-Analyze error buckets for roaming CDRs being dropped due to missing
PLMN ID
Subscriber provisioning

Roaming services are activated on HLR but not on Billing System resulting in
roaming subscribers not being billed
Control
-Perform reconciliation of roaming services activated for subscribers at switch
(HLR) vs. Billing System

Rating and billing

Processed TAP-OUT files sent by the operator not received by the clearing
house leading to non-billing/delay in billing
Control
-Perform reconciliation between TAP-OUT files sent to clearing house and
TAP-OUT files received by clearing house (as per the report from clearing
house)

Delays in sending roaming HURs to roaming partners leading to


fraudsters/subscribers exceeding their credit limit using the network
Control
-Monitor the process of ensuring that HURs are sent to roaming partners on a
timely basis

TAP-IN files received but not billed to subscribers leading to revenue loss
Control
-Perform a reconciliation between TAP-IN files received from roaming partners
and TAP-IN files billed back to the subscribers (TAP-IN files pushed through
the retail Billing System)

Delay in/absence of RAP file processing leading to loss of revenue


Control

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-Monitor the process of RAP file processing by generating a periodic report


with the date of receipt of RAP files and resolution date. Perform ageing of
pending RAP files and escalate the same

VALUE ADDED SERVICES


Overview
In the backdrop of a rapid decline in voice tariffs, the telecom industry is cashing in
on Mobile Value Added Services to climb to the next level of growth. With mobile
penetration expected to grow up to nearly 100% by 2015, along with the advent of
3G, MVAS revenue is likely to grow to approximately Rs, 48000 crore in the next
three years. So the industry is looking at various means to use MVAS as a growth
driver, and simultaneously as a key differentiator. Currently, Indias MVAS industry is
worth 12.000 crore and drives revenues from the primary segments such as game
based applications, music downloads, SMS etc. These contribute 80% of VAS
revenues while other services such as m-health, m-commerce and m-education
constitute for the remaining share.
The opportunities presented by the VAS industry are vast with ample emphasis on
innovation and customer centricity. Social networking, video streaming, enterprise
VAS and location based services would be the game changers for the industry. A
critical driver for this rapid growth is the rapid change in the handset mix by the
mobile phone users. The increased data usage proliferation has led to the greater
need of revenue assurance in the revenue stream of VAS as the telecom service
providers data operations depends on how they act in response to the explosive
growth in mobile data traffic and consequently the usage of VAS services by its
customers.
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Value Chain of Mobile-VAS

Content copyright owners:


At the first level of the MVAS value chain are the content copyright owners, which
develop original copyright content. Examples include music production houses

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(SaReGaMa, Sony), Bollywood production houses (Yash Raj Films), and media
houses (Sony, Star, Zee, etc.)
Customized content creators:
Refers to companies that generate customized content for users through their own
portals. Examples include Mauj, One 97, and Hungama Mobile.

Content portals/aggregators:
These are individuals/organizations that gather web content and in some cases
distribute content to suit customer needs. Examples include Indiatimes and
Hungama Mobile.

Mobile operators:
They provide transport and support mechanisms for delivery of mobile content.
Examples include Airtel, Reliance, BSNL, MTNL, Idea Cellular, etc
Technology enablers:
On the other end of the value chain are technology enablers. These provide
technology platforms that enable access to MVAS. Players include OnMobile, Bharti
Telesoft, Webaroo, etc.
Handset manufacturers:
Mobile handset manufacturers have also started playing an important role, through
their interaction with all other stakeholders across the value chain. Their activities
include embedding software links in their handsets, allowing direct access to content
portals, creating services customized to the need of certain regions, etc. Key players
in the Indian market include Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung.

Revenue Stream for the Mobile operators:

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When a subscriber tries to download any content then a request is sent from
the mobile station to the BTS

From BTS this request is forwarded to BSC

From BSC this request makes its way to the MSC

MSC then checks:


If the subscriber is a postpaid or a prepaid subscriber
Whether data services are allowed to the subscriber. If it is not allowed, then
the request is denied. If the authentication check is successful, then this
request if forwarded to the content providers server.

There are two modes of sending this request i.e. either through SMS or
through IVR (interactive voice response).

If it is the IVR request then it is routed to the content platform by requesting


the subscriber to press a specific key and guiding them to download content
of their choice.

If this request is of sms type then the short code is identified by the content
provider and key word is identified by the content server and accordingly the
relevant data is searched in the content server.

Once the content is found then the content providers server would query the
database to facilitate the content download. Furthermore, content provider
database also maintains a list of all subscribers who have downloaded the
content.

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Once the subscriber has received the content, an Internet Protocol Detail
Record(IPDR) is generated and it contains the information which will be used
to rate and bill the subscriber for the downloaded content.

Billing Process:
Considering the Postpaid Scenario:
For each content download, an IPDR is generated by the content providers server
which is used for rating and billing purposes. These IPDRs are of 2 types:
Pre-rated IPDR: These are based on the rate of information available in the content
providers server. Eg: Some ring tone downloads will be priced at 10 USD in the VAS
server. SO an IPDR generated for this ring tone download will be pre-rated at 10
USD. IN this case the system will not rate the IPDR again. It uses the same prerated amount to charge the subscriber for the download.
Non-Pre-rated IPDR: These IPDRs do not contain any form of rating details. These
only contain the usage charges and therefore in this case the rating is done later
once the rating details are received from the content server.
Considering the Prepaid Scenario:
When a prepaid subscriber downloads content, the required amount is depleted from
the subscribers balance by the IN platform on a real time basis. This is possible only
when the rates for the short codes are standard or the content providers server is
able to read the keyword and then the charge is determined. This enables triggering
a debit transaction from the content platform to the subscriber account in IN prior to
content download.
Revenue Sharing with the content provider:
A revenue sharing agreement involves various stakeholders formalizes to enable
operators to deliver various categories of content to the subscribers. Therefore, for
provisioning of third party content services to its subscribers, telecom operators need
to enter into an agreement with one or more content providers.
In the Indian telecom scenario, operators retain the biggest chunk of revenues.
Revenue sharing agreement is typically, 60-65% for the operator, 15-20% for the
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technology enabler, 15% for the content developer. The fee for the copyright owner
might come from the share of operator, aggregator or both.
Possible Areas of Leakages:
VAS set up poses a double edged sword as risks in this revenue stream not only
leads to leakages but also involves potential for excess payments to content
providers.
In the area of Billing system:

Content providers IPDRs not pushed to IN for offline charging.

Incorrect tariffs configured in the SDP/Billing system leading to incorrect


charging.

Incorrect toll free configuration in SDP/Billing system.

In the area of Content Download:

Short codes not activated in SMSC leading to loss of potential revenue.

Data services not barred in switch for subscribers who have been barred in
billing system.

In the area of Reverse Settlements:

Reverse settlements with the customer is a nightmare for the operator as


when a customer calls and has a problem with the service consumed. The
carrier may give the customer a refund, but be unable to go back to the
content provider to collect money for the credit or refund to the customer,
because it is hard to convince the content provider to reverse settle for the
content consumed.

Providers also often have loose processes for issuing a credit. Their goal is to
keep customer satisfaction high, especially when their systems may not fully
support their business model for the service.

In the area of Data Visibility:

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If a transaction falls, then the mobile operator often has no insight into that
failure. So, when customers call the contact center, customer service
representatives typically don't have access to information about the
transaction.

In the area of Settlements:

Often incorrect number of content downloads are considered for calculation of


revenue share leading to excessive payout to content provider

In case of variation in the number of IPDRs, the average of the IPDRs given
by operator and content provider is taken and accordingly the payment is
made. This often results in content provider declaring exaggerated figures to
increase the resulting payout.

In the area of IPDR charging:

Operators often allow data download from an application which involves a flat
rate for short codes and differential rate for keyword typed.

This superficially indicates that all subscribers are charged at the same rate
irrespective of the keyword typed.

If the keyword field is left blank in the IPDRs generated for data download
from that specific application. In this case all such IPDRs are charged at a
default rate of flat rate for short code plus minimum applicable rate for
keywords.

Revenue Assurance Practices presently followed:


In the area of Billing system:

Perform reconciliation of data form content provider server and operator IN to


ensure that all content that has been sent to subscriber is charged in IN.

Compare tariffs as per marketing teams tariff tables with tariffs configured in
the Billing system/SDP on a periodic basis.

Compare list of all toll free numbers with the billing configuration in the SDP
and billing system to ensure accuracy of configuration.

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In the area of Content Download:

Review failed status CDR from SMSC to review any message sent to short
code not activated in SMSC.

Perform reconciliation of subscriber services provisioned in switch with billing


system to identify mismatch.

In the area of Settlements:

The operators in this regard are just using brute force to attempt to determine
which customers receive credits from among those who call the call centre.

This way the operator can keep a check on whether the customers have really
suffered from the problem communicated or is this the work of some
fraudsters.

In the area of Data Visibility:

Every type of mobile content transaction should have an event detail record
and have that information available to customer care.

Making the information available either online or in the call centre for a
predetermined time before sending it off to the billing system would help to
answer the customer queries.

In the area of Settlements:

The agreement made between the content provider and the operator includes
calculation of revenue share on the basis of actual reports (with a certain
variance permitted) instead of average of usage reports.

Operator reconciles the usage report received from the content provider with
usage report as per operator SMSC.

In the area of IPDR charging:

The operator should perform IPDR analysis on a regular basis to check if all
the details necessary for billing are captured accurately or not.

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INTERCONNECT
Overview
Interconnect is the process of handling calls for other service providers. This allows
the customers of one service provider to communicate with the customers of another
service provider.
If two operators A and B are not interconnect partners, then it would not be possible
for a customer of Operator A to communicate with a customer of operator B.

Usually, operators keep their agreements with each other to allow their customers to
communicate with each other. This gives good business opportunity to all the
operators engaged in interconnection. Any interconnection point at which the parties
agree to connect their respective Networks is called "Interconnection Point".
Examples of interconnection include:

Two adjacent, non-competing telephone networks interconnect so that


subscribers on one network can call those on the other.

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Long-distance carriers obtain access to the facilities of a local service provider


and compete against that provider in providing long-distance services to a
common customer base.

Traditional wireline telephone and new wireless mobile carriers interconnect


so that subscribers of the traditional phone service can call wireless
subscribers, and vice versa.

New competitive local telephone carriers interconnect with the incumbent


carrier so that they can attract subscribers in the common service territory and
enable those subscribers to call subscribers on the incumbent's network.

Customers of the incumbent telephone carrier make calls to their dial-up


Internet Service Provider, which in turn is a customer of a competing local
carrier.

Interconnect Invoicing:
This is process of the production of invoices to send to an interconnect partner
relating to incoming interconnect call detail records (CDR).
Interconnect Billing concerned with calculating the amounts to be paid to and
received from each of the network operators that our infrastructure connects in order
for the successful call origination and termination. The CDR for interconnecting calls
keeps the call routing information as a group of valid values to identify the carrier and
country details.
Note that the set of Interconnect CDRs includes the following details:

CDRs are those billable to retail and wholesale customers. It is revenue for
the telecom provider. It is also referred as local billing.

CDRs that is only billable for Interconnect providers. Eg: Outgoing calls,
Outgoing Transit calls Incoming calls, etc. The Outgoing calls are the expense
and Incoming calls are the revenue for the Telecom Provider.

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Interconnect Billing systems do pricing of all incoming and outgoing interconnect


CDRs. Usually, an interconnect price is determined for both incoming and outgoing
interconnect CDRs on the basis of the incoming or outgoing trunk interconnect route
that carries the call. Most commonly, a trunk ID represents a unique interconnect
partner in the interconnect Billing System.
Settlement Process:
The Settlement Process will be used to settle the Network Operator/Carrier involved
in carrying calls from Interconnect Owner to Other Network Operator destination or
vice versa.
The Process will bring the Outgoing (Expense to Interconnect Owner) and Incoming
(Revenue to Interconnect Owner) traffic for the settlement.
Settlement can be done on monthly or bi-weekly basis using manual or automated
process. It depends on billing system to billing system how it supports partner's
settlement.
Netting Process:
Netting used to perform after the settlement is completed for the agreed
Provider/Carrier. The netting is done by multiple settlement period for the multiple
services, which it supports the same currency in Operator level.
There are two types of netting methods:

AFTER: After for Netting of Operator's Interconnecting cost after subtracting


the amount between operator and Provider/Carrier

BEFORE: Before for Netting of Operator's interconnecting cost without any


subtracting of the amount between operator and Provider/Carrier.

Reconciliation Process:
This is the process of the reconciliation of invoices coming from an interconnect
partner which relate to outgoing CDRs.
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Every month interconnect partners exchange their CDRs for reconciliation purpose.
It is very common to have discrepancies in the CDRs provided by the two partners.
Billing Systems provide reports facilitating reconciliation of incoming and outgoing
interconnect CDRs. These reports keep parameters such as call type, destination,
cost band, and duration so that these CDRs can be used by both operators to match
those parameters and identify missing CDRs.
There may be a situation, when some CDRs are found missing at either of the
operators' side. After doing required reconciliation if matter does not settle, then
various negotiations happen between the partners, and finally, matter is settled by
paying some nominal amount to the impacted interconnect partner.
Interconnect Call Scenarios:
There could be various interconnect call scenarios depending on type of agreement
between different operators. Let me try to cover few most commonly used:

Operator A's customer makes national call to Operator B's customer. In this
case operator A will pay some amount to operator B.

Operator A's customer makes international call through Operator B, because


operator A does not have direct agreement with any international operator. In
this case, operator A will pay some amount to operator B and operator B will
take care of settling down international operator.

Operator A's customer makes international call directly using an international


operator. In this case, operator A will pay some amount to international
operator directly.

All the above calls could be voice, SMS, MMS and data, etc.
Interconnection Agreements:
To have a successful interconnection, the following issues should be dealt with in the
interconnection agreement or by rule or order from the regulatory authority:
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Prices and adjustments: This includes the initial level of interconnection


charges, a definition of the currency in which interconnection charges are to
be paid and how prices will adjust over the term of the agreement to account
for exchange rate changes and inflation.

Points of interconnection: The physical locations, where interconnection will


take place and the technical standards to be employed in the interconnection
are defined.

Transport and traffic routing: Some definition must be made for how calls
will be routed and what will be transport to deliver the calls.

Quality of service: Quality standards are defined, particularly for time to


provision circuits and for call blocking levels and remedies are defined for
when those standards are not met.

Billing and collection: When and how to collect traffic data, when and how
to exchange bills, and when and how to make payment should be specified.

Reconciliation: A process for reconciling traffic data and for making inquiries
to the other party and for handling claims also should be incorporated. A
procedure for resolving discrepancies is useful which often involves seeking
recourse to arbitration, the regulator, or to the courts.

Numbering Plan: Access of each operator to the country's numbering plan


and numbering resources must be defined.

Traffic Load: Capacity to deliver and receive the traffic that flows between the
interconnecting networks should be discussed and documented.

Agreements Types:
Operators can have different types of agreements to exchange their traffic. Most
commonly used agreements are listed below:

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Bi-Lateral Agreement: Under this agreement, each party agrees to exchange


digital communications traffic with the other party over its Network at the
Interconnection Points and/or in one or more direct interconnections. Payment
settlement among different partners happens on monthly or bi-monthly basis
as per the agreement. As per this agreement, both the operators can originate
and terminate their calls in each other's network.

Uni-Lateral Agreement: Under this agreement, one party sends their traffic
to other party's Network at the Interconnection and does not take traffic back
from other party. Payment settlement among different partners happens on
monthly or bi-monthly basis as per the agreement.

Interconnect Billing Process:

Interconnect Risks & Controls:


Area: Interconnect Agreement
Risk: Inaccurate forecasting of traffic resulting in under or over provisioning of
infrastructure.
Control: Monitor process of obtaining a detailed traffic summary to estimate traffic
requirement for each operator/country etc. Independently, analyze traffic requirement
by comparing it with traffic forecasting as per interconnect partners.

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Area: Interconnect Partner Provisioning


Risk: Incorrect configuration of trunks leading to interconnect trunks not being
identified as billable trunks
Control: Periodic review of all trunks configured for interconnect to verify whether
trunks are configured correctly and whether billable trunks are marked as billable.
Area: Event Processing
Risk: CDRs generated at switch incorrectly not sent to mediation / Interconnect
billing resulting in CDRs not getting billed.
Control: Perform a through reconciliation of CDRs generated in switch with CDRs
sent to mediation and with CDRs received at billing system. This reconciliation
ensures that CDRs are not incorrectly dropped or missed during the process.
Area: Error Management
Risk: Sudden dips or rise in traffic volumes going unnoticed resulting in errors or
discrepancies not being identified timely.
Control: Perform regular trend analyses of CDRs with different trunk groups to
identify any sudden dip or rise. Identify trunk groups with no usage and investigate
further for reasons.
Area: Reporting, Off-Setting and settlement
Risk: Invoices sent to or received from other operators may not be accurate.
Control: Validate interconnect usage reports sent to interconnect partners with
CDRs for calls terminating in own network. Validate invoices received from partner
operators and termination CDR report with CDRs for interconnect calls originated in
own network.
Area: Dispute Resolution
Risk: Disputes in settlement of invoices not being raised / resolved in timely manner
leading to loss of potential revenue.
Control: Monitor the process to ensure that disagreements in interconnect CDRs
are raised to interconnect partner as dispute within the time specified as per

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agreement. Perform disputes aging in order to analyses the delays in resolving


disputes and escalate in order to resolve pending dispute.

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Chapter 6
Post 3G Scenario

Revenue Assurance practices post 3G


Indian telecom operators lose crores of Rupees every year due to revenue leaks and
other risk factors. This problem will only worsen with rollout of 3G services and the
consequent growth in consumption of value added services that will boost data
transfer and downloads to new heights. With the advent of 3G services,
communication service providers are providing a whole new range of services
including triple play, video on demand, video streaming, m-commerce etc. This
means that complex OSS, flexible billing options and next generation charging
gateways are being deployed, which will result in greater avenues for revenue
leakage.
The integration challenges with respect to technology remain with 3G and LTE as
these next generation systems need to co-exist and interoperate with legacy
systems. Next generation services come with their own set of leakage issues related
to content settlement, advertising revenue settlement, policy enforcement and real
time rating and charging.
Most telecom operators have migrated to 3G networks. The data and content
services of 3G networks involve complex transactions that go through multiple
platforms before they are delivered to the end customer. The increase in business
model complexity calls for increased focus on 3G network risk areas. It is essential
for these operators to understand the revenue leakage risks posed by a 3G network
with the key revenue risk areas being subscriber migration, provisioning, system
integration,

customer

billing

etc.

Complex

product

definitions

and

non-

synchronization of network elements will affect the revenue chain if there are
mistakes in configuration. For operators migrating to 3G, there will be technical
challenges and customer data should be properly aligned across systems. Hence,
setting up the right revenue assurance KPIs and controls is crucial in a 3G network.
New services are driving a step change in the telecommunications industry. The
services bring new impacts on revenue assurance, which legacy revenues being
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slowly eroded and replaced with new data-driven services. A majority of survey
respondents believe that the next generation of telecommunication services has
already started disrupting existing setups and brings new challenges to revenue
assurance. Services bundling and data and content services have already impacted
revenue assurance by opening up new areas of leakage (e.g. revenue share,
profitability). In addition, most respondents believe that mobile money, cloud-based
services and mobile app stores are expected to bring new revenue leakages and
fraud threats to telecom operators.
Telco providers around the world are quickly realizing that their future survival and
profitability depend on the ability to recognize and deploy new service offerings as
quickly as possible. As many new telecommunications services are invented, offering
these new products and services becomes vital to telcos. The continued reduction in
the average revenue per unit (ARPU) that telcos can potentially realize from voice
services, as well as the continued loss of customers to other carriers, means that
telcos need the revenue that new offerings like 3G products can provide. The
technical issues surrounding the delivery of 3G services to customers are
complicated and they often strain a companys resources. Even after those
services have been deployed, many telcos find that it is still very difficult to
ensure that those 3G services are being accurately billed for and collected.
Next generation services are changing business models rapidly causing significant
upheaval for RA activities. RA has to adapt to these challenges by getting involved
earlier in the product process and widening the scope of where RA adds value. Cost
reduction, cash improvement as well as customer metrics become key activities.

Revenue leakage points in 3G business model


Examination of the 3G business model and resulting revenue flows, indicates that
they the revenue assurance issues in 3G are far more complex than those for 2G
networks. This is a short list of revenue leakage points in 3G networks:
Location
Switches
CDR mediation
Voice call billing
Voice call settlement

Main Leakage Type


Data loss
Data corruption
Rating errors
Statement errors

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Voice roaming
Pre-paid calling & roaming
SMS handling
E-mail usage billing
File transfer billing
Micro payment billing
Micro payment settlement
M-commerce settlement
Micro payments while roaming
Push advertising invoicing
Credit card settlements
Clearing house charges
VAT collection & settlement

Data loss
Fraud
Data loss
Data loss
QoS errors
Fraud
Statement errors
Statement errors
Fraud
Statement errors
Transaction repudiation
Statement errors
Over payment

Problem Areas for 3G Billing Part of the problem with assuring revenues for 3G
billing is that there are so many areas where leakage and revenue loss can occur.
These problems can be categorized in the following areas:
Business model complexities
Unit of billing challenges
Transaction tracking challenges
Billing calculation challenges
Overall integrity and audit challenges

Business Model Complexity Problems:


One reason telcos can get into billing problems is because of the unique demand of
3G services, which necessitates business model different from the one used for
other Telco services. In the voice services world, there are only two parties involved
in any transaction: the customer and the telco. The telco delivers services and bills
the customer for them. Thats easy enough to understand and manage effectively.
When we move into 3G services, however, we are generally forced to integrate third
parties into the mix. Most telcos do not have the ability to deliver the content services
(weather, news, sport, gaming, etc.) that are the backbone of most 3G offerings.
Because of this, the telco must develop business models and partnerships with
vendors that clearly define:
The roles of the content providers and carrier
How the services will be delivered to end users over the network
How the volume and nature of the delivered services will be tracked and reported
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How the services will be billed (by whom and at what rate)
Who will be responsible for collections and credit risk
Adjusting telco infrastructure to deliver 3G requires more than simply putting services
into the customers hands, it also requires that we build up a billing and revenue
assurance infrastructure that captures the information necessary to support the
business model itself.

Unit of Billing Challenges:


In the traditional voice world, billing computation is multiplying the billing rate by the
duration of the calls. The entire billing system infrastructure is based on capturing
and computing for this simple equation and is based on the processing of call detail
records (CDRs).
As we move into the 3G product range, we depart from this simple formula. 3G
billing involves a wide range of complicated calculations that are all specific to the
type of delivered product.
Some different billable amounts are based on:
Number of messages sent or received (by time of day or day of week)
Number of email messages sent or received (by the type of message)
Internet access times (by flat rate or by hour range)
Content delivery (weather, news, sports) (by event)
Music or video (per file or by MB)
Personal video transmission (per MB)
Location based services (per file, per customer response, by city)
Pay by mobile (per transaction or by percent of transaction amount)
The job of revenue assurance (RA) for 3G billing is made many, many times more
complicated by including all of these different calculations in the billing process.

Transaction Tracking Challenges:


To support the variety of intricate calculations involved in 3G activities, the telco
billing system must identify the sources of information for each variable and then be
sure that it is captured, forwarded and processed correctly. Keeping track of voice
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transactions is simple because the switching systems in place all work to create
accurate CDRs. But keeping track of non-CDR based events can be significantly
more difficult.
The underlying telco infrastructure is incapable of tracking the majority of the 3G
products. The telco network knows that a customer is hooked up to the system, but it
doesnt know what that customer is doing. To secure the information about 3 G
billable activities, telcos must build entirely new revenue management chains. For
each service being delivered, the telco must know:
Where the information about the event will be captured
How it will be stored and forwarded to the billing system
How it will be processed
How the integrity of this chain of events will be assured
For some 3G services, the billing system manager can find the information required
within the Intelligent Network (IN) system. For most others, the carrier must depend
on the third party service provider. In all cases, an entirely new system will have to
be built to feed the needed information into the billing system.

Billing Calculation Challenges:


After all the information about 3G transactions is collected, the billing system will
usually need to be modified to perform all of the calculations required. The logic
associated with many of these calculations will be complicated and full of exceptions
and special cases that make accurate computation difficult.

Overall Integrity and Audit Challenges:


After management figures out exactly how all of this billing should be done, it then
must check and double-check to make sure that these complex new activities are
working correctly.

The 3G RA Checklist and Approach


Most telcos are only now beginning to comprehend and struggle with the issues
involved in assuring their 3G revenue streams. Many companies have only recently
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begun to deploy 3G offerings at a large enough scale to make the assurance of the
revenues an important objective.
For those carriers just starting out, the following, systematic checklist approach is
helpful to appraise exactly what their 3G revenue risk exposure actually is.
Identify each of the 3G products that we are currently offering (and plan on
offering in the near future).
For each product, clearly define the calculations (and the different variations
of calculations) that will be used to bill for the product.
Within the definition of each of these calculations identify different variables.
Once the sources of information for each variable have been identified, clearly
document the transaction information chain that will deliver this information
from the source to its final place in the billing system.
Verify that each of the transaction information delivery mechanisms is working
accurately and that the billing system itself is processing that information as
intended.

Billing for 3G products can be more challenging to the telco than delivering the
services themselves. Problems with the 3G business model, how charges are
calculated, how transaction information is captured and delivered to the billing
system, and how the billing sys- tem processes them, all represent areas of
vulnerability. These are the areas where the revenue assurance group needs to
focus if it expects to increase the revenues and reduce the risk of revenue loss in the
sales of 3G services.

3G: RA challenges ahead


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Product complexities:
Remote supervision system
Location based services

Billing Complexities:
Rating parameters definition
Usage measurement methodologies

Variety of data requirement:


Settlement with multiple third parties
Increased RA control points

Security issues:
Data Interception
Trojans, worms and Viruses Frauds

Frauds:
Copyright Infringement
Micro Payment Frauds
Enhancing of business rules to cover incremental scenarios
Automated tools to capture real time information

New-ecosystem:
Collaboration driven by sharing of infrastructure and services

It can be expected that the revenue assurance challenges presented by 3G products


will continue in the future. More complex business models and less accurate tracking
mechanisms need to be constantly re-engineered into the telco environment. For the
telcos that master these skills quickly, the rewards will be higher revenues and lower
expenses. For those that do not, the future will hold continued frustration and
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confusion as the number of 3G services and their complexities continue to expand


across the telco marketplace.

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Chapter 7
Conclusion
Revenue Assurance has achieved some tremendous successes over the years, but
it will have to address some key challenges in order to fulfil the expectations of
management and shareholders.
Data collection and billing is still the main focus of the Revenue Assurance
departments. Companies confronted with a saturated market focus more on
customer retention.
Revenue Assurance functions hence are gradually turning their attention to the endto-end revenue value chain, looking at the business performance and the interaction
between the different parts of the chain.
While this shift in focus can indeed be of added value to the company, Revenue
Assurance professionals should be careful not to lose track of the Revenue
Assurance principles. The continuous monitoring of the basic Revenue Assurance
controls must remain a top priority, given the rapidly changing environment.
Few areas where care needs to be taken are :

Coverage Models - Many people in organisations are concerned with one


discrete RA area or another but it is difficult to map out exactly who in the
organization is responsible for what aspects.

Operationlism and Responsibility - The area of operationalism is the


starting point for the evolution of revenue assurance in its own right. End-toend revenue assurance is only possible by mapping the core functions across
the entire revenue management system and ensuring each function is
somebodys responsibility.

Rationalism - It is complex and difficult to rationalize revenue assurance


budgets and develop the return-on-investment data and business case
required to gain funding to build a new revenue assurance system. In the
case of revenue assurance, the risk and reward, costs and benefits are often
obscure and intangible.

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Capability Assessment - Before implementing any kind of revenue


assurance solution, the organization must first conduct a comprehensive
inventory of how well the current structure can perform.
By shifting the focus of revenue assurance efforts from counting pennies to
appraising risks, both management and the revenue assurance professionals
will be much more satisfied with the results they can deliver.

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Chapter 8
References
1. Market Research Reports by:

Gartner

Forrester

E&Y

2. White Papers By :

Deloitte
KPMG
HP
Analysis Mason

3. Internet Links: http://www.cvidya.com/what-we-offer/business-protection/moneymap


http://www.tutorialspoint.com/telecom-billing/system-architecture.htm
http://www.billing.com.au/marketing/fraud-revenue-assurance-for-pre-paid/
http://www.subex.com/revenue-assurance.php
http://www.wedotechnologies.com/en/revenue-assurance
4. Technical Specification Paper from:

GRAPA

KITE

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