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Mobile Phone Billing Systems Not Designed to Support Data Services

EEtimes.com reports that European mobile communications companies have found that their billing systems do not make it easy to bill customers for data services such as the new GPRS extension to GSM. This could prove to be an obstacle to flexibly priced, value-added mobile data services in the forseeable future.

Among the problems cited in the article:

  • operators can only typically charge for the time that people are connected, the number of SMS messages they send, or the number of data bytes downloaded
  • operators generally cannot charge for SMS messages received
  • value-added services delivered through SMS, therefore, cannot be tariffed on a per-message basis.

Among the services that the article claims are being held back as a result of this are a Microsoft Hotmail to SMS gateway and a wide range of location-based services. Amazingly, the article also says, "billing for new mobile data services was already recognized as a stumbling block well over a year ago by analysts and industry players."

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