RealTime IT News

Shanghai-Online Opts for Infranet as Business Soars

One of China's fastest growing ISPs, Shanghai-Online, has installed the Infranet real-time customer management and billing software from Portal Software.

Shanghai-Online's commitment makes it Portal's first customer in China. Shanghai-Online is operated by Shanghai Information Industry Co Ltd, a member of the China Telecom group. With 174 online resources sites, and more than 300 database and application services, it is the largest urban information network in China.

Shanghai-Online supports more than 100,000 customers, has been adding 6,000 new accounts every month, and has developed some 700 different pricing plans to meet the needs and budgets of the widest possible range of users.

"Three features of Infranet particularly impressed us: the sophisticated rating engine technology, the advanced real-time billing functionality and the open architecture," said a spokesman for Shanghai-Online.

Portal's Infranet offers real-time service provision upon account activation, rapid deployment of new services and pricing plans, online account information so customers can track their spending and verify account and credit status. Infranet's scalability provides a vital requirement in the fast-growing Internet environment, and integrates well with older back-office applications that may be retained even after the billing system is upgraded.

"Real-time billing is key to gaining an edge in the highly competitive ISP business," said Robert Lau, vice president Asia Pacific at Portal Software (Asia Pacific) Ltd. "Traditional, batch-based telephone billing systems are far too inflexible to keep up with the rapid rate of change in the Internet market. We believe any company operating in the Internet space must be able to bring new services to market quickly, modify pricing plans and launch promotions in real-time. Customers must be offered a wide range of payment options as well as track their spending from day to day, rather than wait for a monthly bill."

Since the implementation of Infranet at Shanghai-Online, the number of service calls has dropped sharply, reducing the overall cost of customer service. Now Shanghai Online customers can go online and review their Internet usage any time of the day or night. In case of doubt, they can call the service center, which can access a detailed usage breakdown immediately.

"Real-time billing is the core of good customer management," continued the spokesman for Shanghai-Online. "Without it, many of our services would simply be impractical and our goal of improving service quality would be like building castles in the air."

Enthused by the flexibility and reliability of Infranet, Shanghai-Online is now considering the viability of new business models, including card-based services and online payment by credit card. Infranet will also provide the back-office foundation for next-generation services such as broadband Internet applications, high-speed user log-in and IP networking.