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IBM Sells Its Telecom Billing Platform

IBM Friday said it has struck a deal to sell its telecom billing platform to CSG Systems for an undisclosed amount.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based giant said this is one of the last asset sales the company has planned as part of its recent cost cutting.

Englewood, Colo.-based CSG's products set up customer accounts, process orders, manage invoices, and perform marketing analysis. The company's customers include AT&T (which makes up more than half of its sales), AOL Time Warner , and Cox Communications . The company has been expanding its core processing business through acquisitions, including its $260 million purchase of Kenan, the customer care and billing business of Lucent Technologies .

Under the agreement, CSG said it will work with IBM to boost Kenan's billing platform along with its CSG Data Mediation solution to support IBM eServer pSeries systems, which run on the UNIX operating system. Similar computers from Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems Inc. also run CSG software.

In addition, CSG and IBM will work together on customer care and billing outsourcing opportunities that require data center hosting facilities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.

"Today's alliance with CSG provides existing ICMS customers, as well as other service providers, with world class customer care and billing solutions," said Rich Stomp, vice president, IBM Telecommunications Industry . "We look forward to further enhancing our relationship with CSG to offer service providers around the world the best in IBM technology and services coupled with leading CSG solutions."

Big Blue said the transaction is part of its strategy to migrate its indigenous applications to independent software vendors (ISVs) and then go-to-market.

"We believe that the ICMS customer base will benefit greatly from being served by a company whose sole expertise is in the customer care and billing industry. We welcome these customers to the CSG family," said Bill Fisher, president of CSG's Global Software and Services Division.

Eventually, the ICMS platform and its customers will be part of CSG's Global Software and Services Division, joining CSG Kenan/BP and other CSG software solutions. Under the agreement, CSG will contract with IBM to continue to provide ongoing maintenance and support to ICMS customers.

CSG said it also plans to seek compliance with the IBM Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE), an open standards based architecture built on IBM's WebSphere e-business infrastructure software.

The agreement will help CSG give its wired and wireless service providers the ability to introduce new revenue generating voice, text and Internet-based services.