When it comes to billing for telecommunication services, it can be hard to understand the details. Telecom billing involves issuing invoices and sending them to the customers who are using the company’s telecom services.
Telecommunications is a sizeable industry. By 2024, it’s expected to reach 1,595 billion U.S. dollars. Charging for these services and getting timely payments can be complicated. With billions of people using telecom services around the globe, billing systems need to be in top shape.
Let’s take a closer look at telecommunications and telecom billing systems.
What Are Telecommunications?
Telecommunications or telecom services is a set of services that includes sending a signal from one party to another using electronic media. The most popular examples of telecommunications are TV and the Internet. The technologies behind telecom allow voice, video, pictures, and other media to go from one point to another. The transmission is usually done by using:
- Copper wire
- Fiber optics
- Radio tower
- And more
Numerous local and international companies handle telecommunications, including Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, Qtel, and others. These operators offer an opportunity to:
- Make voice calls
- Send faxes
- Send SMS and MMS
- Set up internet connection
- Upload and download data
- Do video conferences
- Take advantage of IP-based services
Different telecom service providers have their own charging options. The most common ways to charge for telecom services include.
- Monthly billing – a user pays a certain amount per month. For this money, they get a specific set of services whether they take full advantage of them or not. For example, you could be paying $20 per 20GB of internet. You would still have to pay $20 if you’ve only used 10GB.
- Usage billing – another way to the bill is to charge customers based on how they use the service. For example, they are charged for each GB they use up. This model is more convenient but usually more expensive per piece of data.
Complexity of telecom billing lies in the number of users and the ability to take a personal approach to each group of clients.
Besides offering services that revolve around data usage, telecom providers can charge for equipment installation, service termination, service suspension, and much more. It’s imperative to keep an eye on the plan and its fine print in order to avoid unexpected charges.
Types of Telecom Billing
Telecom billing goes far beyond issuing invoices and waiting for the customer to pay. Since the number of customers and service variety is usually formidable, service providers develop special billing methods. They stem from different billing types that include:
- Pre-payment – the customer pays for using a service in advance. These customers don’t have to receive invoices. They make monthly payments, which are being requested and processed in real-time.
- Post-payments – many telecom providers use this system. Customers take advantage of the available services during the month. Once the month is up, the company creates an invoice (usually using telecom billing software) and sends it to the customer.
- Roaming – payments for roaming are usually processed separately. Since the customer goes out of range and uses another service provider’s network, the local provider charges extra. These charges are a separate cost category. They are dealt with through roaming billing.
- Convergent billing – this involves integrating all service charges into one invoice. So a customer has a unified view of all the services it took advantage of during the preceding month.
Each service provider decides which options to use. More often than not, large telecom companies take advantage of different billing types.
Telecom Billing Systems
Telecom service providers often face a complicated task when managing a large number of users and customer bases. They have to add and remove customers, record their network use, calculate and issue bills, take and process payments, follow-up with non-payers, and much more.
By setting up a telecom billing system, these companies can automate a big chunk of this work, taking some burden off the team’s shoulders and reducing human error.
Many telecom-related tasks are repetitive and time-consuming. Managing a large volume of data would require too much manual work. Telecom billing systems automate the process and reduce the time it takes to issue invoices.