Earlier this year Aurora launched their new mobile billing product in the Channel. David Dungay spoke to Aurora’s MD, Derek Watson, to gauge his vision of the mobile landscape and what kind of doors he is opening up for his partners.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Can you give us your take on the mobile billing market?
Derek Watson (DW): The mobile industry is fast moving, evolving and competitive. Resellers now have to cope with self-billing the networks’ tariffs for them, implementing their own bundles, daily roaming charges, call packages, and introducing new tariffs based on their own wholesale rates.
Regulatory changes also continue to put pressure on the reseller; understanding the challenges and then making the necessary adjustments can place a significant burden on resources.
CBM: Tell us about your new product, why is mobile billing so important for the Channel?
DW: Aurora has now launched Virtual Service Provider (VSP). VSP enables Aurora’s customers to provision and manage 02 and Vodafone connections directly from Aurora’s Affinity billing platform.
Mobile Billing has always been important to the channel, there are strong margins to be made from mobile connections. Selling cheaper ultimately destroys margin, so Aurora is giving our customers powerful service offerings so they can sell based on service rather than competing on price which also helps customer retention. Fine tuning the customer’s package to meet future usage profiles will always win against a package designed on historic usage.
CBM: Billing is a competitive space, what are your customers asking of Aurora?
DW: Being first to market with new network offerings can provide a competitive edge to the reseller. The Affinity billing solution is designed to be generic and most network packages can already be modelled in its extensive billing facilities. Our customers can often launch new network offerings as soon as they are available to sell, rather than waiting for new facilities to be developed.
Aurora’s prime goal is that our customers can concentrate on what they are good at. Our Affinity software is designed to allow our customers to deliver exceptional service and demonstrate real value in the billing and management of information the system provides to their customers.
Affinity has a customer communication module which can be configured to inform end customers about anything that is being managed by the Affinity platform, which will make customers easier to look after by internal staff, and will make all customers feel important.
CBM: Having just been acquired as part of the Alternative Network deal with Daisy what does the future hold for Aurora?
DW: It’s business as usual for Aurora. Within the rules of a PLC acquisition we are not able to comment on any of the above at the time of this interview going to press I’m afraid.
CBM: What are biggest mobile billing challenges?
DW: The emphasis for accurate billing for business customers has shifted from the carriers to the reseller. Gone are the days when resellers could rely on simple uplift tariffs to add their margin to the carrier rates.
Resellers now have to cope with self-billing the networks’ tariffs for them, implementing their own bundles, daily roaming charges, call packages and introducing new tariffs based on their own wholesale rates.
Facilities such as capping and barring are no longer available to the reseller or do not kick in at the correct level based on the selling rates. This has put more strain on the reseller.
At the same time, there is more margin to be made if your billing system can keep up with the changes, and track tariffs against network costs.
Traditional resellers are also increasing their product portfolios as traditional margins from fixed line and SIP diminish, so a powerful product tariffing mechanism is necessary to support this shift, and not one which is based on traditional telephone based charges. Resellers are also looking to bill other usage elements such as utilities, bandwidth and cloud based services.
The importance of good reconciliation between supplier costs and selling rates to the resellers’ customers is becoming more apparent with more complex usage charges, connection bonuses and termination fees all needing to be taken into account.
Mobile brings its own complex billing challenges but the right billing platform can help ease common pain points.