Mobile operators offering premium content will lose control of their services because they are relying on clumsy manual billing systems, a management service provider revealed to vnunet.com today at the Mobile Content World show at Olympia.
The problem is that operators will not be able to keep track of subscribers accessing content, warned Sam Hickman, director of corporate marketing at Qpass, a software house that specialises in mobile network infrastructure management.
"The market for mobile content is growing exponentially, but the provision of payment is unbelievably archaic," he said.
"Mobile companies are working out how to pay royalties using a spreadsheet and manually allocating payments. When demand for video clips and news on mobiles takes off, they will never cope with the scale of micro-billing."
Hickman argued that most mobile operators were set up to handle voice but not data. They can cope easily with selling minutes but remain unprepared for selling content, and are already losing revenue.
"Companies are not getting any billing information, so if a customer queries an item on the bill the operators frequently have to cave in and refund the money for fear of upsetting the customer," he explained.
The problem facing mobile operators and content providers is that they launched ad hoc services in the mobile internet gold rush, and have no way of integrating and managing the services as one entity.
"The growth of mobile services is often unplanned and undisciplined, and ultimately unsustainable," warned Hickman.
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