Telstra Wholesale has implemented a purpose-built Ericsson system that supports real-time billing, enabling it to launch prepaid 3G services on a wholesale basis for the first time.
The telco said it had rolled out the "new state-of-the-art intelligent network and online system" by Ericsson, which "supports real-time billing and charging capability".
It is understood that the prepaid 3G mobile service is the first wholesale product to be underpinned by the Ericsson platform.
Telstra already offers wholesale access to its 3G network on a postpaid basis. However, these services rely on an existing wholesale platform and billing system that is understood to not support real-time charging.
"We have in market today a wholesale 3G post-paid solution that uses our existing legacy network platform and billing solution," a Telstra spokesman told iTnews.
Telstra first raised the spectre of opening its 3G network on a wholesale basis in July last year.
Telstra Wholesale group managing director, Stuart Lee, said there are now ten firms offering postpaid 3G services over the Telstra mobile network.
The carrier has now expanded its wholesale arsenal with the prepaid 3G product, courtesy of having a billing system that supports real-time charging.
The first wholesale customer to take up wholesale prepaid services is sub-wholesaler, ispONE.
Managing director Zac Swindells told iTnews that it worked collaboratively with Telstra and Ericsson to create the systems to make the 3G prepaid product possible.
"We all did it in a record time to launch a new product," he said. "We're talking sub-16 weeks from first discussions to trials and production."
Optus sub-wholesale deal loosens
ispONE has sub-wholesaled prepaid mobile services on the Optus network since 2010.
However, the arrangement has become a partial casualty of recent changes at Optus, which has also seen the No.2 carrier can partnerships with prepaid brand Boost Mobile and long-time reseller TeleChoice.
Swindells said ispONE would continue to consume wholesale mobile services from Optus to underpin its ONEseniors and ONEmobile retail brands.
In addition, customers who consumed Optus prepaid mobile services on a sub-wholesale basis from ispONE would see those arrangements continue.
However, Optus prepaid mobile services would no longer be offered to new customers of ispONE's sub-wholesale aggregation service.
"[Optus is] just moving away from prepaid as a wholesale product," Swindells said.
"They've got their key partners. Obviously we're a part of that and obviously we have that [Optus Wholesale] platform through our ONEseniors and ONEmobile brands, but as a wholesale product and as an aggregator model I don't believe it's something they're really interested in at the moment."
Swindells noted that "it hasn't been a conscious choice by ispONE" to no longer offer prepaid Optus mobile services on a sub-wholesale basis.
"We've had discussions with management there [at Optus] and we understand the position Optus Wholesale are at, and we're supportive of their decision, it must be said as well," Swindells said.
However, he was happy to be part of Telstra's move to bring prepaid mobile services to the wholesale and sub-wholesale markets.
"One door closes, another opens, and it's very fortunate we're part of that door," he said, promising ispONE would "push it wide open" with prepaid offers in the coming months.
He saw prepaid mobile services as a major growth opportunity in the telco space.
"I think at the moment people are more predisposed to actually going out and purchasing a smartphone outright now and not be tied into contracts," Swindells said.
"The prepaid deals you can get these days without lock-in [are] brilliant so you're not tied in to a network if you have any failures or if you're not happy with the coverage or service, you have the opportunity to move away."