Vodafone, Nokia team for converged charging system
August 2, 2023
Customers and strategic partners of Vodafone Business can more easily adopt future 5G services, such as dedicated network slices to support critical applications and emergency services, thanks to a new cloud-based converged charging system developed by Vodafone and Nokia.
Nokia’s Converged Charging (NCC) software is a secure and automated platform that unlocks new commercial models for both Vodafone and its business customers, partners, and third-party developers. It enables them to price and package new digital services targeted to individual end user needs in a completely different way to today’s charging mechanisms.
A motor manufacturer, for example, can tailor and charge separately for in-vehicle telematics and infotainment services, vehicle-to-vehicle and everything (V2X) communications, asset tracking and location-based services to suit the individual needs of a motorist, a fleet or road haulage firm. The platform also supports a host of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, including environmental and traffic gathering sensors, as well as devices that trade securely with each other within the Economy of Things.
“5G enables many new services and with this new system, new ways to charge for them,” suggests Alberto Ripepi, Chief Network Officer of Vodafone. “By leveraging the scale of our pan-European and African networks, we can help customers manage factory equipment, open developer marketplaces using our APIs, and enable enterprises to offer bespoke products to their own customers.”
“We are pleased to be furthering our relationship with Vodafone through the roll-out of Nokia’s Converged Charging solution,” adds Hamdy Farid, Senior Vice President, Business Applications at Nokia. “As advanced 5G services start to become more widespread, our Converged Charging solution is very well-placed to help communication service providers and enterprises drive innovative 5G use cases and business models, and deliver significant operating efficiency improvements.”
The pair say the new system is far more flexible and responsive than today’s charging mechanism, which typically comprise three separate platforms to first calculate the cost of a voice call, message, TV or data service, then assign it to a user’s account before finally billing them. The new system combines all three and takes full advantage of the dynamism and speed of advancing 5G Standalone (pure 5G) networks, coupled with low latency Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC). It does this by triggering new pricing models based on quality of service, location, dedicated network slices and specific network Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) like, for example, a bandwidth boost via Vodafone’s new Developer Marketplace.
Vodafone will initially install the platform in Italy and the UK, before extending this and other converged charging services to many more markets from this year. The increased automation also means the company can be quicker to market while saving energy and reducing costs by up to 30 per cent, based on early indications.
The move towards greater charging customisation also underpins Vodafone Business’s push into new digital services, including cyber security, software-defined and mobile private networks, and cloud hosting services. These services grew by 20 per cent in the first three months of 2023, and now account for a quarter of Vodafone Business.
Through converged charging, Vodafone says it can offer businesses of all sizes, public sector organisations and developers access to new markets and revenue streams without them taking on the complexity of rating, assigning, and billing end users. The platform will handle all elements of this charging process for them. The Nokia software is highly intuitive allowing a user to simply drag and drop in new applications housed in virtual containers rather than running on large servers, meaning that new services can be introduced in a matter of days rather than weeks.