Guest post: Reflections on interconnect and roaming

I was invited to a presentation recently on a telecom partner management product. The presenter pitched the product as something which can handle all partner related settlements like interconnect, roaming, and wholesale . That really gets me thinking as that sounded like interconnect and roaming are different things from wholesale. To me, they definitely are wholesale when it comes to interconnect and roaming partners. On further discussion with the presenter, I realized that the term “wholesale” to her was for settlement with content providers and service providers (CP/SP). She would refer to interconnect and roaming on their own names and their own rights rather than calling them wholesale.

From a business perspective, I think what the presenter said makes some sense from certain angles. Interconnect and roaming brings sizable revenue to an operator. I have seen operators with dedicated business units to handle interconnect business and roaming business with P&L reporting to Finance. Therefore, just calling them wholesale may not accord them due respect they deserve.

What about CP/SP business, should we then just call them wholesale ? Over time I would think not. As value-added services and contents grow in significance, its revenue contribution to an operator will grow as well, especially for those operators who don’t want to be just a pipe. When the time comes, the presenter may have to change her slide to include CP settlement, and leave the generic term wholesale for something “less significant”.

I guess all these are just academic in the end. However for someone such as me who likes definitions so I can remember things easier, I like to see the term “wholesale” as something which is at the top level of the naming or even business hierarchy. Under it there are multiple B-to-B business models. These models are the likes of interconnect, roaming, CP/SP, MVNO, VOIP / IDD settlement, and future business models which require wholesale billing and settlements such as M2M and Cloud-based services.

I image one day solution vendors, or the industry, will be talking about a single wholesale billing and settlement solution, a unified solution to handle all the B-to-B business models in an operator like those mentioned above. What about the partner management product the presenter pitched today ? Well, of course it will be one of the functions under the wholesale billing and settlement solution, but it will not be on slide #1 used to introduce the various settlement business models like what the presenter did today.

Michael Chan – Guest blogger
Disclaimer : purely my personal thoughts and opinions.

“Michael Chan has been working in the telecom industry for over 20 years, focusing on telecom revenue management solutions.  Michael has worked for leading telecom solution vendors such as HP and Convergys. He is currently with Huawei. His expertise spans across R&D, solution architecture, program management, presales, solution consulting, and solution marketing.  Michael has extensive experiences working with Tier 1 operators in the Asia Pacific region. He’s also a blog contributor in Consultantvalueadded and mmC Group.”

About this entry