Mediation contracts set to increase as operators invest in real-time billings systems

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Although the last three years have seen an overall downturn in total BSS sales, one sector is bucking the trend.  Next-generation services require real-time, or at least near real-time, billing capabilities.  Operators are going to have to address real-time billing - but they are more likely to do this by adding a module or adjunct system, or by upgrading their mediation systems. The days of mega end-to-end deals are numbered.

Chorleywood's latest report, GLOBAL TRENDS IN TELECOMS BSS AND BCC MARKET FORECASTS reviews the BSS market and looks ahead to what might happen in this sector over the next five years. The report demonstrates the foothold that vendors, in particular CSG Systems, have gained by acquisition.

"CSG is the company to watch - it has grown hugely by  acquisition to get a worldwide cross sector base.  Its installed base is one of the highest in terms of announced sales in 2003," comments Ann Swallow, Chorleywood Markets Manager and author of the report.

"But TelesensKSCL also grew like that 4 years ago, and it suffered partly because the cost of its acquisitions in a declining market" cautions Ann Swallow.

Purchasing cycles are now longer than ever before impacting vendor revenues. Operators have gradually moved from a 3-4 year lifecycle in the telecom boom years for BCC systems to a current eight year lifecycle. Market share is dominated by a few global players suggesting further consolidation and acquisition among the remaining BSS vendors.

Current market leaders are:
- BCC: SchlumbergerSema (mostly now divested to LHS), CSG Systems and Convergys
- CRM: Amdocs and Siebel
- Mediation: Comptel and Ericsson

Mediation contract announcements show a rising trend over the last three years, in contrast to decline in the other two BSS sectors studied in the report.

Uniquely, the GLOBAL TRENDS report records operators'  satisfaction with key installation-related and  operation-related elements of their BSS. The cycle of purchase and sale of both BCC systems and vendors appears to have distracted some vendors from attending to the ongoing needs of some of their customers. There appears to be a correlation between rapid expansion and change of ownership and user dissatisfaction.