How Will BCE Improve the Settlement Process for Operators?

POSTED BY Scarlett Woodford

Within roaming, there is a clear need for products that help identify and segment traffic. The most exciting of these is the GSMA’s BCE protocol, an end-to-end standard that is designed to introduce a new level of flexibility to charging and settlement models.

This inclusive, industry-wide standard allows operators more control over the billing process; reducing the need to outsource additional services. The new standardised reconciliation process will also enable operators to reconcile usage and charging; providing a new level of visibility over the process.
But how will this new process improve the settlement process?
Enhanced Traffic Filtering
The BCE protocol will enable operators to filter traffic based on service type, such as data, SMS, and voice, as well as network technology. Whilst early trials of BCE have focused on GPRS traffic (2G and 3G), the process is constantly being evolved by the GSMA with the view to covering new network technologies, such as 4G and 5G.
Flexible Timescales
While existing charging models require operators to send traffic data records to roaming partners on a daily basis, the BCE protocol will enable operators to exchange aggregated data over extended time periods. This can include the exchange of traffic data records on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
Operators will also have the freedom to negotiate exchange frequencies with individual partners, forming bespoke agreements on timeframes that will prove most beneficial to all parties involved.
Improving Efficiency
Currently, the billing and settlement process involves a considerable amount of manual work for operators, involving the resolution of disputes on invoices and TAP transactions. For use cases and charging models that are not covered by TAP files, operators must invest in discount management tools or complete manual calculations in order to apply correct charging models.
BCE therefore represents an opportunity to streamline internal accrual processes, reducing the time and cost associated with resolving billing disputes. This increase in operational efficiency can be extended to the internal approval and payments process, which are usually completed six months after the initial invoice.
Monetising New Use Cases
The BCE protocol will provide operators with a dedicated solution for the wholesale settlement of IoT traffic, which cannot be monetised using TAP files.
When Will Operators Begin to See These Benefits?
Whilst the GSMA and other suppliers are promoting the BCE, this procedure is still not widely implemented within the roaming industry. The initial reason given for the lack of BCE implementation was the COVID-19 pandemic, with operators seeking to secure their core operations rather than investing in innovation. However, as international travel begins its recovery from the pandemic, and roaming traffic increases, Juniper Research anticipates that operator uptake of the BCE protocol will grow drastically over the next five years.
► Download the Whitepaper

Our latest whitepaper, The Evolution of IoT Roaming, explores:
  • IoT Connectivity
  • Monetising IoT Roaming Traffic
  • Market Summary: Number of Roaming IoT Connections in 2022

► IoT Roaming Strategies Market Research

Our latest research found:
  • The global number of roaming IoT connections will increase from 300 million in 2022 to 1.8 billion by 2027; representing a 500% growth.
  • Juniper Research's Competitor Leaderboard identified the six leading IoT roaming vendors as follows:
    • #1: Vodafone Business
    • #2: Tata Communications
    • #3: TNS
    • #4: BICS
    • #5: Syniverse
    • #6: iBasis
  • Juniper Research commended Vodafone for its ‘Application-as-a-Service’ model which will drive IoT roaming service adoption amongst SMEs by lowering the barriers to entry.
  • The report detailed how harnessing AI to detect permanent roaming connections is key to distinguishing the services of leading vendors from their competitors. By enabling the accurate identification of permanent roaming IoT connections, vendors will support operators in the monetisation of these devices.
  • Operators must move away from the use of punitive measures and adopt a monetisation mindset; drawing parallels with grey route mobile messaging traffic reduction.