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Telcos address revenue leaks

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There is a trend towards diminishing telecommunications "revenue leakage", with cellular operators showing the best improvements, says Tim Courtenay, joint-MD of Atio`s Telecommunications Division.

Courtenay, who recently attended a revenue assurance conference in Amsterdam, says cellular operators are now losing about 11% of their revenue to such leakages, compared to around 13% in the past.

"This is a considerable improvement with substantial gains being made, considering the global revenues involved," he says.

Dave Baker, who heads up Intec-Telecom Systems, an operational services support supplier, agrees with Courtenay`s assessment.

"There is a definite trend by telcos to lighten up their revenue leakage problems. While there are no hard statistics at the moment, we are seeing that a combination of tighter systems management and an awareness that this leakage costs literally millions is helping," he says.

Revenue leakage has been a major headache for many African telecommunications companies, where the trend, apart from SA, is for them to receive far more incoming international calls than outgoing ones. Revenue appropriation is complicated, because these calls are often carried across many different carriers.

International telecommunications monitoring firm TeleGeography recently stated that cellular operators have emerged as a key market segment for international wholesale carriers with international termination rates being persistently high. This is despite the fact that few cellular operators have international networks of their own, or access to such gateways.

"Mobile subscribers generate 20% of international traffic and receive 30% of cross-border calls. It is this environment that is bringing increased interest on traffic to mobiles rather than traffic from mobiles," says TeleGeography.

TeleGeography says African mobile carriers generate only 8% of the world`s international wholesale revenues compared to 12% for Latin America and the Caribbean and 28% for Asia.

"2G is now largely mature, and the next challenge we`re looking forward to is, of course, the imminent growth of 3G," says Atio`s Courtenay. "This heralds the convergence of telecoms, computing and entertainment, and the delivery of IP-based services, all creating a burgeoning demand for ongoing testing."

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