The Bill for Roaming

By Eric Griffith

February 19, 2004

Two companies are entering a marketing deal to make it easier for those who roam across hotspots to get a single bill.

CSG Systems of Englewood, Colo., and Tatara Systems of Acton, Mass., are entering a marketing relationship to try and push easier billing for customers roaming from one wireless system to another.

CSG provides billing and customer care products for the telecom industry; Tatara makes wireless platforms that make it easy for wireless providers to allow roaming onto other networks. Roaming is one thing, but charging your users while they're doing it is another. Together the two hope to make this easier for all parties.

"We want to help providers maintain a brand but also help them collect revenue -- but the customer won't care, they'll just get a bill at the end of the month [as usual]," says Greg Opie, Mobile Industry Manager for CSG.

The home operator, the one that owns the customer relationship, should have the Tatara platform running; any hotspot (or other type of wireless) network they have a roaming agreement with will feed information on that user's session back. CSG can then use it for proper billing.

"As long as the authentication comes to the Tatara platform, [[single billing] will work," says Opie. This should apply to Wi-Fi hotspots and other types of wireless -- even connections like DSL or dial-up -- as long as the network has a roaming agreement with the home provider using Tatara and if they also implement CSG for billing (they're not bundled).

Wi-Fi hotspot use is expected to skyrocket this year, according to research firm Gartner, with three times as many users expected to use wireless public access compared with last year.

CSG is a member of the Internet Protocol Detail Record Organization (IPDR), an industry consortium pushing to provide single bills to end users despite myriad network connection options. IPDR is working on a WLAN Accounting and Settlement specification.

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