6 Applications of A Data Refinery: How Telcos Can Support Generation Cloud

Posted: January 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

By Katja Kurisjärvi, Marketing Manager, Comptel

In yesterday’s blog post, I highlighted Comptel EventLink 7.0’s key features and mentioned how they comprise the foundation of our Data Refinery solution. Communications service providers (CSPs) and global enterprises alike require a strong technology base to keep up with the standards of nexterday and the high expectations of “Generation Cloud.”

Building on the Comptel EventLink core, with rating and charging components and embedded intelligence, including reporting and monitoring, our Data Refinery solution can enable real-time decision-making and action- triggering. Here are six ways that it can be put to work to drive CSPs’ businesses forward.

1. Beyond traditional billing mediation

“Comptel EventLink can, as always, manage traditional billing mediation tasks, and many of our customers use it for full-blown mediation consolidations,” says Senior Product Manager Tero Lindholm. “The platform is typically used in the OSS/BSS layer, where a Tier 0 or 1 operator with IP, fixed and mobile networks has consolidated all of its services on it.”

However, recently, new and existing Comptel EventLink customers have started to use the software for purposes other than pure billing mediation, taking advantage of its ability to process intelligent data in real time and in any format.

Typically, such cases involve complex event processing (CEP) and refining value out of “Big Data in motion” – data that originates from multiple sources in a real-time environment. The Data Refinery adds intelligence to the data handling, and enables real-time analysis, decisions and actions based on the data going through the system streams. When more hierarchical customer profiling and propensity calculations are needed, the Comptel Social Links analytics add-on is included.

2. Automated campaigns

One of the new purposes for the Data Refinery is real-time analysis with decisions and actions to enable automated campaigning processes. This is something that Comptel has implemented for operators all over the world.

“We are helping operators better understand how their customers are using their services and which offers are most relevant to which individuals,” said Tero.

The Data Refinery combines real-time usage events with a real-time understanding of the subscription and the subscriber profile and location, for example, like whether the subscriber is roaming. The Data Refinery can accumulate different usages, and combine them with real-time analysis, make more relevant offers to the end customers with optimal timing.

Understanding real-time usage is made possible by combining usage events from network elements such as PCRF or OCS (mobile) or CMTS (for IP network), and the subscription information from the CRM. The summary of each customer’s usage, according to his/her subscription and services, is shown immediately in the CSP portal, where end customers can directly monitor their service usage.

Having real-time information about data usage increases customer satisfaction and helps CSPs’ provide more suitable offers based on the real-time understanding of service usage.

3. Economical ways to managing roaming agreements

Comptel is in a good position to help operators solve roaming challenges. The company was a pioneer in rolling out roaming cost control use cases when the EU roaming regulations came into force in 2007. These regulations were intended to regulate the roaming data and voice charges imposed by operators to their subscribers, thus preventing bill shock.

To regulate roaming charges, operators are looking for more economical ways to manage roaming data and agreement processing between different roaming partners. The Comptel EventLink extension, Roaming Management, is used by 20+ operators for managing roaming billing and fraud detection, and for automated processing of partner agreements. The extension supports the TAP/RAP/NRTRDE/RAEX processing in alignment with the GSMA standards and provides full visibility into the configuration of the agreements from test phase through production.

4. Monetising OTT offerings

The Data Refinery can help monetise over-the-top (OTT) offerings. For example, in Asia-Pacific, a Tier 1 customer is using the Data Refinery to collect information related to Google Play purchases. The customer has a revenue-sharing model with the Google Play market place, and the Comptel system provides usage information to revenue-sharing platforms and to the interconnect billing system.

5. Ready for IoT

The Data Refinery is highly suitable for connecting devices and applications, and expanding usability from pure billing mediation tasks to supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) business model.

For instance, since 2013, the Telefonica Group in Europe has used the Data Refinery for processing smart metre usage traffic from Telefonica’s machine-to-machine (M2M) network elements. Smart metres equipped with SIM cards communicate readings over GPRS links, which generate events that the Data Refinery can collect and separate from mobile device usage events, providing the aggregated data to the M2M platform and assurance.

6. LTE leading the data explosion

Increased data usage is clearly visible to the users and developers of Comptel EventLink—a Tier 1 operator’s system, for instance, can now process as much as 500 TB of data daily (comparable to the daily usage of Facebook data).

To cite an example from Tero, the amount of usage events has tripled for an Indonesian customer over the past two years, and is currently hitting 12-13 billion records with each passing day.

“Indonesia is just about to adopt 4G services, and we can expect the number of usage events to multiply as 4G is introduced to tablets, smartphones and other handhelds being used in that region,” noted Tero.

In Italy, a similar explosion was seen earlier this year, where the mobile data packet usage increased by 84 percent in just five months. Not only has LTE created an enormous impact on the volume of network events, it has also increased network complexity. This is because VoLTE based on IMS technology introduces new types of network elements that require high capabilities to collect and correlate different events from different sources, in order to have properly chargeable items for billing and other applications.

It’s no wonder that operators are finding it difficult to handle customers’ appetites for ‘all-you-can-eat’ packages and are consequently moving to capped data plans. Such data plans take advantage of policy control solutions, which restrict available capacity for each customer. Customers who demand the highest bandwidth without limitations must be prepared to pay for it, bringing welcome income for operators still suffering from voice revenue losses.

Want to discuss how else Comptel EventLink 7.0 and our Data Refinery solution can support your business?

Download the presentation below, or email comptel.marketing@comptel.com for a demo.

Download

This is based on an interview with Senior Product Manager Tero Lindholm.


Around the World

Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Microsperience…
First Touch, Last Touch, Every Touch
Analyst Teresa Cottam explains why every interaction that takes place between a communications service provider (CSP) and a customer is important. The CSP often perceives the first touch, or first customer engagement to be a sales transaction where it signs up a customer to receive a service. However, customers believe that their relationship with a CSP doesn’t just begin with a simple sale—it takes a longer period of time to cultivate.

Teresa uses a personal experience with an old broadband operator to explain how CSPs should build better relationships with customers. After mishandling her service transfer process, the operator made her wait 30 minutes on the phone, and a support assistant accused her of signing up for the wrong package and dismissed her concerns.

Teresa says this example emphasises issues that currently exist in the market, and proves that CSPs need the ability to analyse data in real time to get a better understanding of and retain their customers. CSPs need to focus on not just the first touch but any and every touch in order to build loyalty. She also notes that in today’s competitive market, even forgetting that ex-customers could be future customers is a missed revenue opportunity and could hinder CSPs’ success.

telecomasia.net…
APAC Telcos Concentrate on Quality
Joseph Waring gives an overview of a recent Telecom Asia-Ovum survey of telecom executives in 19 countries across Asia Pacific. The results revealed quality of service (QoS) to be the key distinguishing feature for operators in the region.

Interestingly, the survey also found that fewer respondents (38% compared to 54% two years ago) viewed unlimited data rates as the most effective way to charge for mobile broadband services. But Ovum analysts believe that the percentage of people who agree with this method is still too high, and urges operators to steer away from flat rates, which can over-burden networks and negatively impact QoS.

Additionally, survey respondents indicated that they believe video will be the key driver of continued mobile broadband traffic growth in Asia Pacific. Like Comptel, Ovum believes that operators must look to balancing the management of resources like bandwidth, while controlling customers’ data services, in order to maximise the customer experience and monetise their offerings.

CommsMEA…
Right Path for Roaming?
Industry experts wonder if recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regulations could potentially cause more harm than good. These called for telecom operators to slash mobile phone roaming charges to consumers by at least 50 percent beginning 1 February in a bid to bring costs in line with those in Europe. Roaming revenues account for a significant proportion of overall profits for many CSPs, and a sudden forced reduction in tariffs may, unfortunately, lead to price increases, less investment in other areas and other unintended consequences.

But, there is evidence that Gulf operators are already moving in the right direction towards decreasing roaming tariffs without the regulations. Peter Lyons, director of spectrum policy, Africa & Middle East for the GSM Association (GSMA), says that operators responding to the competition are driving roaming costs down and that they are making an effort to increase the transparency of roaming rates. On the other hand, some point out that regulation is needed to protect against distortions in the market that can be created by dominant players. What do you think is the right path for the Gulf in terms of roaming?


Around the World

Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Total Telecom…
Service Providers Must Think Creatively to Get Most Out of M2M
The automotive industry is one of the key drivers of M2M communications. This article explains that operators need to include additional services on top of M2M offerings in order for customers to get the most out of the technology.

Telefónica and Masternaut, for example, are using M2M communications to monitor driver behavior, such as braking and acceleration habits, for enterprises with large fleets of vehicles. On top of their service, they are offering an element that allows companies to rank their drivers and award a prize for the highest ranked depot within an organisation. By using the natural human instinct for competition, Telefónica and Masternaut are able to encourage safe driving.

Telefónica is not the only mobile operator looking closely at this space—many are interested in building an enablement framework that will allow them to reap the benefits of M2M technology.  Do you see M2M being a major telecom trend in 2012?


ChannelNewsAsia…
Telcos May Spend More to Boost Network Capacity
This week, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore introduced measures to boost the quality of 3G mobile services for subscribers. As of April 1, operators must ensure more than 99 percent coverage in outdoor areas and more than 85 percent coverage within buildings, with a less than one percent rate of dropped calls.

Due to these measures, Singapore telecom operators are focusing on improving their control of surging mobile data volumes, and are predicted to invest between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion this year to boost their network capacity. This increase in capacity will be essential as the demand for faster data networks and LTE grows. The key for operators will be to guarantee a high quality of service in the wake of new regulations while also driving profits and preparing for the next phase of mobile broadband.

NPR…
How to Avoid ‘Bill Shock’ From Smartphone Use
For many Americans, using a cell phone while traveling abroad can result in ‘bill shock’ when they receive a stunningly large phone bill resulting from unanticipated roaming charges. To address this problem, the FCC will implement standards next spring requiring wireless carriers to provide timely and effective notice to consumers about expected roaming charges.

The new FCC regulations will present opportunities for CSPs to differentiate themselves on the customer experience front, by taking a closer look at improving billing services and personalised alert services. What do you think these new regulations will mean for the industry?


Around the World

Posted: October 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Telecoms.com…
India Unveils Draft Telecom Policy
This past Monday, India unveiled a draft of new policy meant to “facilitate consolidation in the converged telecom service sector, while ensuring sufficient competition.” A major change will be the removal of roaming fees within the country. Policy makers are hoping this move will encourage customers to make more calls outside their home territory.

Amid corruption over the allocation of the telecom spectrum, this new policy also focuses on transparency by issuing telecom licenses and spectrum bandwidth separately rather than bundling them. Do you think this proposed plan will ultimately benefit CSPs and subscribers, and revitalize India’s telecom industry?

Telecomasia.net…
Time to Rethink Data Roaming
Informa Telecoms & Media’s Paul Lambert asserts that the European Commission (EC) regulation for the data roaming market is out of step with the way smartphones interact with the network and how smartphone data is used while roaming.

Paul believes EC regulations should guide operators to charge for usage rather than the number of kilobytes a device consumes. Many smartphones consume data by constantly interacting with the network to update data applications, even when they are not being accessed by users. Thus, data is unwittingly consumed much faster.

Do you agree that it’s time to rethink data roaming?

Bloomberg Businessweek…
FCC to Revamp Phone Subsidy to Spur Expanded Internet Access
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski recently revealed plans to overhaul the U.S. phone subsidy program, the Universal Service Fund, by extending broadband Internet connections in rural areas. The plan will bring wireline and wireless high-speed Internet connections to 18 million homes that don’t have access, increasing the number of people who use high-speed Internet from 65 to 90 percent.

The FCC also plans to revamp fees paid to rural carriers for connecting calls, which chairman Genachowski says could result in significant consumer benefits. We’re looking forward to hearing more details when the final version of the plan is unveiled on October 27th for the FCC vote.


Around the World

Posted: July 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Gulf News…
Mobile Broadband on Growth Track

A recent Informa Telecoms & Media report indicates that mobile broadband growth in the Middle East and Africa will outpace that of fixed broadband. In fact, mobile broadband subscriptions are set to multiply more than 16 times to 430.7 million by the end of 2015, up from 25.39 million in 2010.

These numbers are a bit deceiving though, as the high incidence of multiple SIM use means that the number of unique users is markedly lower than the number of unique subscriptions. As the article points out, this will continue to be the case in the coming years because users want to take advantage of promotions and on-net tariffs, and due to the varied quality of service and extent of network coverage offered by different operators.

Mobile broadband growth is also causing claims that bandwidth hogs will make it difficult for operators to profitably run their networks, and leaving consumers wondering about how much bandwidth they are actually using. Like we’ve previously discussed, policy control can give communications service providers (CSPs) the levers they need to control service/resource supply, encourage customer demand with a more intelligent approach to bandwidth management, and see revenue growth.

The Wall Street Journal…
EU Roaming Data Caps Could Help Mobile Industry

This article discusses the European Commission’s plan to regulate the mobile roaming market, lower the data and voice charges incurred when traveling abroad and ultimately reduce bill shock. Currently, Europeans are paying an average of €2.2/MB. The proposed plan will dramatically reduce that number to 90¢/MB starting July 1, 2012 and falling even lower to 50¢/MB by July 1, 2015. As Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, stated:

“Competition is still very weak. Customers still get a raw deal when they cross borders. Operators still enjoy outrageous margins, particularly on data downloads.

Within a single market, there is simply no justification for huge mark-ups, just because you’ve crossed an invisible internal border that is supposed to have disappeared. And just because customers have little or no choice in the matter.”

Although this strategy would seemingly have a negative impact on CSPs’ revenues, these cuts may actually work in operators’ favour since high prices may be preventing people from using their phones while abroad. What do you think the new regulations will mean for the industry’s future?

Telecom Asia…
Innovation Requires Collaboration

Ovum’s Innovation Radar series highlights telco innovation in the second half of 2010. After tracking 300 new service launches across the fixed and mobile market segments, the analyst firm found a major trend—telcos are now innovating more collaboratively. They are carving a niche for themselves with adaptable structures that can support innovation rather than seeking to simply create the next best application. The telcos that did this, while leveraging their networks, brands, customer relationships, partnerships, etc., made significant strides at the end of last year. Analyst Emeka Obiodu also noted that, “the pre-eminence of the adaptable structure is going to become more pronounced as telcos move towards the future of SMART (operators that provide services, management, applications, relationships and technology) and LEAN (low-cost enablers of agnostic networks) players.”


Amsterdam Feels the Heat of Policy Control

Posted: April 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

I have just returned from Informa’s Policy Control event, which was held in Amsterdam earlier this week, and where Comptel was present as an exhibitor and as a participant in a panel discussion. It was a very good event: some excellent speeches, some excellent networking.

There is no doubt that policy control is HOT at the moment. Infonetics analyst Shira Levine, who was chairing the first day of the event, stated that she expected the market to quadruple in size by 2015, and reach $1.6 billion! The event’s presentations broadly offered three reasons for this: the growth in data traffic, regulation, and the drive to differentiate and personalise services.

The growth in data traffic, and the fact that it is outstripping revenue growth, are both well documented. Many presenters offered the “Xs”. For example, T-Mobile Netherlands said that between December 2008 and December 2010, smartphone traffic grew by 6X, volume by 5X and (maybe most interesting of all) signalling by 7X. On that last point, a number of speakers identified the growth in signalling traffic as the most pressing problem concerning congestion—even though LTE is more efficient than HSPA, this is a problem that shows no sign of going away. Overall, this traffic growth is driving operators to try and “control” bandwidth usage (more about that later).

The second driver mentioned at the conference was legislation. For example, Telefonica Germany (formerly O2) explained how it had to implement roaming cost control to comply with European Union legislation. In fact, the speaker seemed to imply that the operator’s policy control solution still wasn’t live, and that to comply with the legislation, it had to find a work around: Telefonica basically does not charge for roaming data usage over €50 limit, and just reduces the quality of service for the user. This is not done in real time, as the usage calculation is done during the billing run. Clearly, though not explicitly mentioned by Telefonica, this is a source of revenue leakage (in the form of uncharged usage). Nonetheless, the communications service provider (CSP) explained that while revenue per MB went down as a result of this legislation, overall revenue for data went up, because users no longer suffered bill shock.

The final driver for the adoption of policy control is differentiation and personalisation. There was a lot of discussion in particular around the move from punitive and “blind” bandwidth control towards intelligent bandwidth management as part of tiered offerings. The BT speaker put it succinctly: “policy control is”, she said, “the last gasp of a centralised control approach.” She argued that operators should be providing what customers want, and that means Skype, Netflix, etc. The walled garden approach is dying, and over-the-top services are here to stay.

Other speakers talked about offering application-aware bandwidth (e.g. for video or gaming) and tying that closely to price plans with policy control and charging. Zain Kuwait, for example, explained how it offers two plans, eeZee for average users and e-Go for heavy users.

U.K. ISP PlusNet did sound a note of caution though: customers don’t always understand tiers. The operator shared the result of a survey it commissioned—what consumers want, in order of importance, are reliability, price, speed and multiple use. Value-added services and usage were not factors consumers cared about. For that reason, NetPlus offers just two simple price plans, with the tiered offering being an add-on rather than a plan on its own.

So what about lessons learnt in terms of implementations? Many operators talked about focusing on specific use-cases rather than tackling a generic policy control deployment. Polish operator Play also said that, when looking for a solution, “flexibility and performance” were key. The CSP also mentioned that operators need to build redundancy; as it unfortunately found out, if PCRF fails, the network goes down! The BT speaker once again put it very straight: operators should be looking for “a vendor who plays well with others” and “delivers on its promises”. A number of operators, such as the U.K.’s TalkTalk, also emphasized the importance of being open and honest with customers about what operators were doing, especially as far a “fair usage” was concerned.

Finally, I was particularly pleased to hear Comptel’s very own mobile broadband survey mentioned by three speakers, including one Comptel competitor!


Around the World

Posted: February 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

CommsMEA… Around the World
Taking a Lead
Many countries in the Middle East are often criticised for the slow pace of reform in the telecom sector, but as editor Roger Field points out, the Gulf appears to be leading the way in one important aspect of telecom—roaming.  At last month’s Roaming MENA Conference, one of the main discussion points concerned the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) roaming regulations, which intend to reduce the cost of roaming charges by placing a cap on the wholesale and retail roaming fees that can be charged between operators in the Gulf.  The regulation has drawn some criticism from operators, and some have suggested that self regulation has already been achieved by simplifying roaming tariffs and giving end-users a clear indication of roaming fees.  With more consumers using mobile data services, the issue of ‘bill shock’, especially as a result of roaming charges, has become of greater concern not just to regulators but also to operators themselves who are aware of the importance of quality of experience, which of course includes billing.   Do you believe self-regulation is enough?

TM Forum Inside Leadership…
Cloud Services: The Next Big Thing for Telcos
Keith Willetts, chairman and CEO of TM Forum, shares his thoughts on cloud services and the challenges telcos face with it.  As he points out, many of today’s early cloud providers are product companies that are learning how to deliver complicated services.  One would think that that telcos have the upper hand when it comes to delivering services because of their brand recognition, large volume of customers and resources to deliver services; however, according to Willetts, with those attributes comes a poor reputation of customer service, a history of exposing technical complexity (rather than hiding it), a tendency to be slow to make decisions, and the weight of regulations and government.  The opportunity for telcos in the cloud is huge if they move quickly—not building the whole offering themselves—but rather putting in place delivery systems, customer support, etc.  Cloud is a two-sided business model, where telcos can partner with cloud providers and act as a go-to-market service enabler.  The example Keith uses in his article is that the telco could just provide the managed bandwidth that the cloud service needs. But it could also provide a lot of value—for example, providing the cloud store ‘front window’ (catalogs, etc.), security and authentication, and billing and customer care.  What do you think of this kind of model / partnering?  Do you see cloud being an opportunity for telcos?

Light Reading…
Reflections on Barcelona: Decision Time for 4G
From a network perspective, the most striking thing emerging from this year’s Mobile World Congress was just how much the industry’s mindset has shifted from a 3G-oriented, hierarchical network architecture to a flat, all-IP architecture. But as analyst Patrick Donegan points out, the daunting scale of this upcoming architectural transformation cannot be overestimated. To keep the cost of running the network at a sustainable level, operators’ network planning, engineering and operations teams will have to design and deliver a network-wide transformation unlike anything they have ever been asked to deliver on before.  Patrick compares this transformation to a house being refurbished.  Previously, transformations of the mobile network were discrete, like redoing the bathroom or building an extension.  The 4G transformation won’t allow anything like that.  IP makes network boundaries and domains more porous, so that what you do in one domain necessarily impacts all other domains (not just adjacent ones).  And it drives feature distribution, which in turn drives demand for new product types.  This kind of transformation more closely resembles refurbishing an entire house while you’re still living in it.  The need for coordination and alignment between work undertaken in one “room” and another is so much greater.  Do you see this network transformation impacting quality of service, especially with more mobile data traffic?


Witnessing Roaming Cost Control In Action

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Last week, while at Comptel’s headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, I received the following text from my service provider:

“You’ve spent £34.04 (ex VAT) on data in Europe. We won’t charge you any more on your current bill, but we’ll stop the data service if you go over 50 MB.”

What an odd message! I thought:

  • Why the somewhat random £34.04?
  • What is 50 MB; how much daily usage does it represent? And how much have I used already?
  • What can I do about it? Can I up my quota? The message gives no indication of that.

Of course, I immediately recognized this message as an implementation of the European Union’s (EU) Roaming Cost Control legislation—not a weird, threatening and inconvenient message. I could hazard a guess that the £34.04 (plus 17.5% VAT) could be equivalent roughly to the legislation’s limit of €50. And I also knew that I had the right to change that limit. So all in all, the message made me smile. I called my service provider and was able to up my credit limit (to an equally bafflingly random figure incidentally). Problem solved—for now at least.

However, how would other customers feel about this message, especially if, like me, they were travelling on business and needed data services for their jobs? My guess is they would not have been too happy about this message, even if they do understand the benefits of avoiding bill shock. What might they have done about it? I guess there are two options here: either they stopped using data services or, like me, they called the service provider.

In other words, for the service provider in question, this text resulted in either a lost opportunity for further revenue or a cost for handling customer calls—not to mention the potential customer dissatisfaction.

Yet, all of this could have been so easily avoided if the message had been better phrased, and if it gave an option to increase the limit by simply replying to the text.

There is so much talk these days in our industry about policy control as a tool for personalization and improved customer experience. It seems, however, that some implementations do not quite live up to that aspiration—yet.


The Mobile Phone Bill Is What?!

Posted: May 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Last summer, I went gold prospecting in Finland’s Lemmenjoki National Park, which is about 250 km (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. This was at the height of the economic crisis, and desperate times called for desperate measures!

There is a serious telecom point to my story—while taking a break from panning, I checked my phone and found that it was connected to a Norwegian mobile network, even though Norway was some 65 km (40 miles) away! In other words, I was standing in one European country and roaming in another!

Unintentional roaming is not an unusual experience in Europe, but it also occurs elsewhere. For example, it happens frequently in Niagara Falls, which sits on the U.S. and Canadian border.

This brings me neatly to the subject of roaming cost control. Whether roaming intentionally or not, using one’s mobile phone abroad is far more costly than when using it at home. We’ve all heard the horror stories (admittedly some probably apocryphal). My own favourite is the one about the French café owner living on the Belgian border; he was hit by a €46,000 (U.S. $ 57,000) mobile Internet bill after unintentionally roaming into the neighbouring country. (An alternative, less credible but often quoted version of that story involves a German woman who downloaded an episode of Lost while in France.)

Now, however, regulators are stepping into the debate. Most notably, the European Union (EU) will, in just a few short weeks (1 July), enforce a new regulation on communications service providers (CSPs) in order to prevent ‘bill shock’. The legislation dictates lower costs for data services while roaming, and that subscribers are adequately informed of the charges.

One example of an operator preparing for this change—Finnish CSP DNA Ltd has deployed Comptel Roaming Cost Control, which allows subscribers to monitor their balances in real time, and notify them of any necessary actions, such as a notification or suspension of the services when a specified cut-off limit is reached.

The new regulation isn’t only affecting European CSPs.  After conducting a recent survey and finding that one in six mobile users have experienced ‘bill shock’ in service plans, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting pressure on U.S. operators and now considering legislation similar to that of the EU. Australian and New Zealand regulators are also looking into to tackling mobile roaming ‘bill shock’.

Excessive roaming bills have caused negative attention and bad publicity—and ultimately put customers off from using services that many operators are betting their futures on. Roaming cost control allows CSPs to not only comply with legislative demands, but also keep their customers satisfied and encourage data usage. As DNA points out, it is also an opportunity for CSPs to deploy real-time policy management and charging solutions that will help differentiate them from competitors by offering personalized services and price plans. This is critical for CSPs looking to fully monetize on mobile broadband services.

For the record, I did not find any gold. But thankfully, I was not hit by a big mobile phone bill either.