A long-time telecommunications industry analyst says Bell Mobility will face difficult times ahead as it tries to regain customer confidence after several months of billing irregularities. "It’s not simply a matter of getting the billing right. It’s also a matter of winning back customer confidence that the billing can be trusted," Ian Angus tells Report on Wireless.  The billing problem arose last fall following a massive retooling of the billing system across many of BCE Inc.’s business units. The company partnered with AmDocs, a U.S.-based billing specialist to implement the new system and proclaimed that the billing overhaul would come off without any problems.  Angus says it was unrealistic for Bell to think that it could reinvent its billing system without experiencing a major glitch. "This was a giant project that they launched, to completely redo the billing of all Bell companies at once. But nobody who has worked to develop software will tell you that that’s the kind of project that has no problems," he says.  Bell Mobility recognized the problem last year and sent a letter to all of its subscribers in December. "We are working hard to complete this transition as quickly as possible. While it has not affected your wireless phone service, we have had issues with the billing system that have impacted many customers. In particular, you may not have received bills for some months and then received several all at once. It is also likely that you faced significant delays in getting through to our call centres if you called us for any reason," Michael Neuman wrote in a letter to subscribers.  The real problems for Bell started when corporate customers didn’t receive bills for three months and then were billed for four months of service in the fourth month. This caused a huge backlash in the enterprise community because most employees expense cell phone charges to accounts payable. This, in turn, wreaked havoc for quarterly expense tracking and budgeting.  Bell declined to grant Report on Wireless an interview, but maintains that it is making steady progress in its billing system transformation. "Over the past several weeks, bills, pre-authorized credit cards, and bank debit have been released on schedule. Any questions that customers may have are answered on a case-by-case basis," Bell wrote in response to questions.  "The Bell Mobility billing system transformation, one of the largest IS/IT transformations of its kind in North America, is part of a wider strategy across Bell Canada to place the company’s overall billing system on a single platform. This new platform, once completed, will allow Bell Canada to integrate its portfolio of products and services in one bill and offer a heightened level of customer care across the organization.  This is a key part of our company’s long-term growth strategy and an essential step towards a more integrated, simple, and seamless relationship between Bell and its customers," continued the written answers.  Angus recommends that enterprise customers take nothing for granted when they receive their cellular phone bills. Wireless bills are automatically sent to accounts payable often without any verification. "If you don’t have a system in place for checking and making sure that cellular bills are accurate, you could be way, way overpaying," he says.  Other lessons learned from Bell’s experience: make sure integrated billing works before saying it does. Call-Net Enterprises Inc. and Rogers Wireless Inc. could learn a lot from Bell’s problems as they try to integrate the operations of recently acquired firms. While Call-Net’s integration of 360networks shouldn’t prove too much of a problem because 360 networks was relatively small, Rogers’ decision on how it goes about integrating the former Microcell Telecommunications billing systems could prove a daunting task.  Angus suggests that phone company billing simply can’t be solved by putting software programmers on it. "I would say that messing with billing is one of the most dangerous things you can do for customer relations because for most of your customers, the bill is the only contact that they have other than getting the service. Be extraordinarily cautious and certainly don’t introduce new systems into the customers market stream until you have actually tested them 900 ways to Sunday."