Before mobile operators can become banks or recoup the billions invested in third-generation networks, they need to sort out how they are going to charge their customers. On the customer end, consumers and businesses need to choose whether to pay for their airtime in advance or receive a monthly bill. But behind the scenes, an even more fundamental battle is taking place: just who should pay?
Whether fixed or mobile, most phone companies can only send bills to their own customers. If a Deutsche Telekom customer in Frankfurt calls a Bell Atlantic customer in New York, only Deutsche Telekom can send the customer a bill. Yet, the call has actually passed through Bell Atlantic's network too, as well as that of a long-distance ...