TELECOM BILLING QUICK /quick-billing-guide.htmCopyright tutorialspoint.comTELECOM BILLING INTRODUCTIONSending voice, data, picture, fax, etc., from one point to another using electronic media is termedas telecommunication and in short it terms as telecom. Examples include Phone, Radio, Televisionand Internet. The medium of transmission includes Wire Copper, Fiber Optics, Ether wireless, Radiotowers, Microwave, Satellite, etc.Today, everybody is using phones Mobile & Land Line and same time numerous services provided bytelecom operators. To name, following are few international phone et me list down few international telecom operators, who are providing satisfactory telecomservices to their customers:VerizonVodafoneAirtelTATAEtisalatQtelLet me also list down few basic telecom services being provided by various well known telecomoperators:Voice CallFax ServiceSMS & MMSInternet ConnectionData Download and UploadVideo ConferencingIP based services, i.e., voice over IP or VPNTelecom operators are charging their customers in various ways, but there are two mainly usedparameters to charge a customer:Rental Charges: These are the charges taken from the customers on monthly basis againsta service provided. For example, your telephone monthly charges would be 5.00 regardlessyou use it or not.Usage Charges: These are the charges taken from the customers based on the serviceutilization. For example, you would be charged for all the calls made or data downloadedusing your phone.
Apart from monthly rental and usage charges, operators may charge you for service initiation,installation, service suspension or termination as well.Telecom Billing is a process of collecting usage, aggregating it, applying required usage and rentalcharges and finally generating invoices for the customers. Telecom Billing process also includesreceiving and recording payments from the customers.Billing Systems:There could be very complex charging scenarios, which would be difficult to handle manually.There are state-of-the-art Billing Systems available in software market which handle billing tasksvery efficiently and provide lots of flexibilities to service providers to offer their services withdifferent price structures.Billing systems are often viewed as accounts receivable as the billing system assists in thecollection receipt of money from customers. Billing systems are also part of accounts payableforinter carriersettlements as customers often use services from other companies such as wirelessroaming, long distance, and call completion through other networks.Billing systems are high end, reliable and expensive softwares, which provide variousfunctionalities. Here is a list of most important features but not limited to the following:Rating & billing: This involves rating the products or services usage and producing monthlybills.Payment processing: This involves posting of the customer payments to customer'saccount.Credit control and collections: This involves chasing the outstanding payments andtaking appropriate actions to get the payments.Disputes and adjustments: This involves recording any customer disputes against theirbills and creating adjustments to refund the disputed amount in order to settle the disputes.Pre-pay and post-pay services: This involves supporting both pre-paid and post-paidcustomer base.Multilingual & multiple currencies: Multilingual and multiple currencies support isrequired if the business is spread across the globe and have multinational customers or if thegovernment regulations demand for it.Inter-carrier settlements: This involves sharing of revenue between carriers that provideservices to each other's customers.Products & services: This involves providing flexible way to maintain various products andservices and sell them individually or in packages.Discount applications: This involves defining various discount schemes in order to reducecustomer churn and attract and increase customer base.Billing Types:When you drill down billing subject, it becomes more complicated. I would try to cover most of theconcepts later in this tutorial, but let us have a broad view on widely used billing types:Pre-pay Billing: A billing mechanism where customer pays in advance and after that startsusing a service. Usually, prepaid customers do not receive any invoice and they are chargedin real time by the highly available billing systems called IN IntelligentNetwork.Post-pay Billing: This is the conventional billing, which is coming for many years. Here,customers buy products and services and use them throughout the month, and by end of themonth, invoices are generated by the service provider and sent those invoices to thecustomers to make their due payment.Interconnect Billing: The network operator is usually financially responsible for servicesprovided to its customers by other networks regardless of whether or not the customer paysfor the service. Interconnect billing is related to inter-carrier or sometime called partner
settlements.Roaming Charging: When a customer goes from one network operator's coverage area toanother operator's coverage area, first operator would pay marginal charges to secondoperator to provide services to their customers. Such type of charges are settled throughroaming billing. This settlement is done as per TAP3 protocol, which I will discuss in upcomingchapters.Convergent Billing: Convergent billing is the integration of all service charges onto a singlecustomer invoice. Convergent billing means creating a unified view of the customer and allservices Mobile, Fixed, IP, etc. , provided to that customer.Billing System Vendors:Billing Systems are the backbone of any telecom operator. If operators do not have a strong billingsystem, then it would not be possible for them to offer their products and services with attractivepromotions and deals and ultimately they can not stand in today's competitive and dynamicmarket.You can find thousands of vendors, who are selling their billing products with a claim of lot offeatures, but there are few in the market which are really good and most commonly used. I maynot be able to list down all the good billing systems, but few of them are listed below:SystemWebsiteConvergys w.amdocs.comAMS Tapestryhttp://www.amsinc.com/telecom/Kenan Arborhttp://www.kenan.com/Saville Systemshttp://www.savillesys.com/Single Viewhttp://www.intecbilling.comPortal Infranethttp://www.portal.comEricsson INhttp://www.ericsson.comNokia Siemens INhttp://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.comTELECOM BILLING - SYSTEM ARCHITECTUREFollowing diagram shows typical architecture of a Billing System. Here, we have two possibilities:CRM CustomerRelationshipManagement/OMOF OrderManagementandOrderFulfilment system contacts withthe billing system and billing system contacts with provisioning system to provision theservices and network inventory system as well to assign phone numbers or IP addresses, etc.Second possibility could be that CRM/OMOF system itself contacts with provisioning system toprovision the services and network inventory system as well to assign phone numbers or IPaddresses, etc.
Typical Billing Process:Considering above system architecture:- After a call is made or you can say a usage is generatedby the end customer, the mediation system gathers usage data from the network switch and buildsa call-detail record CDR. This CDR must contain A party number and B party number, the start andend date & times.The CDR is then stored until it can be rated. To rate the call, the CDR is examined to see if the callis, for example, a 800 number, a local call that is covered by a local-area calling plan, internationalcall or a toll call. Information such as the time of the call was placed and city code or countrycodes are used to calculate the rate for the call.Once each call is rated, this information is stored until the invoice is run, usually once a month.When the invoice is run, other nonusage charges, such as discounts or monthly fees, can beapplied to the bill or sometime called invoice.There could be rating time discount or billing time discount, different payments done by thecustomers, different adjustments given, all this information contributes in final invoice generation.This information is then converted in a format, which can be printed in a readable form. Finally,the envelope is printed, stuffed with enclosures, and mailed to the end customer.Billing System Requirements:A billing system should be composed of a series of independent applications that, when runtogether, are referred to as the billing system. A good billing system should provide the followingmajor functionalities with a depth of flexibility:Customer-interface Management: The billing system must be able to handle customerinitiated contact, oversee outbound customer contact, and manage the contact life cycle.Order Management: It is a basic functionality, which should be available in a typical billingsystem. Billing system should be capable enough to capture product & service order andmanage the order-entry life cycle, and oversee the order-completion life cycle.Sales and Marketing: A satisfactory billing system should answer customer query, handlecommissions, provide sales support, track prospects, manage campaigns, analyze productperformance, and acquire multiple dwelling units.Rate Plans and Rating: Billing systems must manage a variety of products and services,different rate plans associated with those products and services and should provide flexibleways to rate usage generated by those products and services.Discounting: System should be capable of giving various types of discounts on differentusages and rentals.
Invoicing: It is important that the system performs billing inquiry, generate bills, processdeposits, perform account administration, maintain tax and fee information, processfinancial information.Credit Control & Collection: Billing system should control usage and revenue by assigningdifferent credit classes to different customers. System should support payment collectionand applying them on different invoices.Multilingual Support: Multilingual support involves providing invoices and customer careservices in multiple languages.Multiple Currencies: Multiple currencies used in different countries can complicate thebilling system as the billing and customer care system must be capable of recording andprocessing in units of multiple currencies.Partner revenue management: Partner revenue management are the sharing of revenuebetween carriers that provide services to each other's customers.Problem Handling: Billing systems should also be able to manage trouble-ticket entry,coordinate trouble-ticket closure, and track the resolution progress of a trouble ticket.Performance Reporting: A satisfactory system will provide performance reporting, ensurequality-of-service QoS reporting, create management reports, and generate regulatoryreports.Installation and Maintenance: The system should also provide workforce scheduling andmanage activities performed at the customer premises.Auditing & Security: A billing system should perform data audits and integrity checks. Asecure system is always desirable for an operator.Apart from the above functionalities, a good billing system should be :Accelerating time-to-market for new service launches.Enabling convergent view of customers and products.Supporting cost-efficient architectural scalability.Enabling partner relationship management and settlement.Reducing total cost of ownership.What is Next?Starting from next chapter, I would try to cover complete process starting from defining productsand services, associating plan and tariffs with those products, acquiring customerssellingproductstotheendcustomers and capturing usage generated by those customers and finally ratingand billing that usage to send a final bill to those customers.TELECOM BILLING - PRODUCTS & SERVICESIf any telecom operator like Airtel, Vodafone, Verizon, BT, etc., thinks to set up a billing system,they would think to have their products and services defined by their sales and marketingdepartment first and then setting up the billing system.What is a product?A product is a logical or physical entity, which can be sold out to an end customer by the operators.This could be a mobile phone, internet connection, Voice call connection, VPN, Video on demand,Digital TV connection, etc.A product can have their monthly rental, which we call periodic charges also. A product can beusage generating product or non-usage generating product. A usage generating product issometime called event generating product and non-usage generating product is also called nonevent generating product.
For example, voice call connection, which comes along with a phone number, is a usagegenerating product because it generates usage whenever end customer uses this product to makea voice call. A simple phone set without a connection is a non-usage generating product and itcould be given to a customer based on monthly rent only. So even if customer is not using it,customer has to pay monthly rental.What is a service?When we talk about them from marketing point of view, as such there is no difference in betweenproducts and services because most of the times both are used interchangeably by different billingand marketing experts.Simply saying an operator uses their product to provide voice services to their customers. Aninternational call can be called a service provided using a voice call connection. Another examplecould be 800 number call may or may not be available through a particular operator, call waiting,call forward could be said a service provided by a model of a phone set or by an operator.This tutorial will use Product and Service terms interchangeably. Keeping it simple, Products areitems that customers can