Getting the most from wholesale billing

Simon Dadswell,Intec
16 Jan 2008

Ten factors to consider in deploying a wholesale billing system:

1. Flexible billing architecture

As the telecoms market becomes increasingly complex, operators need to support a wider range of billing and settlement models in a single integrated platform - from simple voice and data traffic using international route-based tariffs, to new IP-based traffic and complex revenue sharing agreements involving multimedia, content and commerce partners.

There is a trend for multi-party settlement to be supported where a single event record can be used as the basis for revenue settlement with any number of partners, as well as the need for real-time, web-based partner access. The wholesale billing system should be highly adaptable and support any type of settlement model.

2. Billing for new revenue streams

For operators to exploit opportunities from content-driven business models, wholesale billing systems must be able to provide full support for processing data and varied content apart from traditional voice traffic, for different scenarios including complex multi-step and multi-component rating rules.

This requires the ability to account for non-usage events such as leased lines and facility rentals, as well as one-off charges for IP peering agreements. Operators need to deploy sophisticated cross-product and cross-partner discounting features for the modeling of intricate business-to-business content settlement agreements.

3. Rapid time to market

The sooner a service scenario can be supported the better, so that marketing departments can create and launch new products faster than their competitors. They require flexible discounting to support scenarios such as financial, call count, usage, tiered and threshold discounts, as well as penalty rates. By providing triggers, the system should allow for certain types of traffic to be cross-discounted. Also, operators require volume-based settlement capabilities to negotiate or offer flexible agreements and defined rates based on traffic volumes, including committed volumes and a host of other user-definable criteria.

4. Billing on-time

High on the agenda for most operators are increased productivity, eliminating delays in revenue recognition and improving cash flow. This can be achieved by removing repetitive administration processes associated with generating interconnect statements and invoices - making them more accurate, controlled and auditable.

Invoice production can be streamlined by segregating the billing period into revenue and expense elements so that revenue can be closed off and invoiced immediately without having to wait for outstanding rating information to be in place before the billing period can be closed. Users also need a flexible user interface that allows them to aggregate and filter invoice information and generate generic or operator-specific invoice formats, as well as automate multiple levels of tax calculations, exchange rate conversion, payment tracking and supplementary invoice generation.

5. Advanced carrier-grade rating

The ability to settle invoices swiftly and reconcile them accurately depends on a carrier-grade rating engine capable of handling a high number of EDRs per agreement. This can place a huge drain on existing legacy systems. Millions of EDRs must be analyzed in a very short period by a series of criteria, and the introduction of content settlement expands the rating functionality further, including time, event, messaging type and message size. By deploying an accurate carrier-grade rating solution, operators can accelerate the issuing of interconnect invoices, perform regular re-pricing against new partner offers, and obtain valuable business intelligence.

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