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Vodafone takes one on the chin for billing problems

Not our fault, but we'll take the blame anyway

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Vodafone has blamed recent changes to its billing system for a litany of problems affecting its UK network, from inaccurate bills to disconnected calls, but is refusing to say who's responsible for the debacle.

Billing systems are integrated into every part of a mobile network, often in a badly documented fashion, so a failure in the billing system can result in just about any behaviour: including the failure of basic voice calls experienced by some Vodafone customers.

Vodafone announced massive outsourcing deals last year, with the stated intention of cutting the cost of billing by more than a third, but that strategy seems to have come unstuck in recent weeks with connections failing and major failures in online billing information.

Quite who is responsible for the "upgrade" isn't clear; a Vodafone spokesman would only say: "As Vodafone is responsible for the customer experience received by its customers, we don't feel it is appropriate to name specific suppliers."

But anyone interested in upgrading their own billing system might want to know.

IBM and EDS are certainly responsible for outsourcing parts of Vodafone's UK network, though Amdocs does the billing in the Netherlands and boasts of "...projects at a number of [Vodafone's] operating companies, including Vodafone Netherlands, Vodafone UK and Vodafone Hungary."

Vodafone assures its customers that the network is "returning to ... normal levels of integrity and performance", but anyone interested in who managed to screw things up so badly should keep watching, or, if you know already, why not let us know

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