Telecom billing process


The billing process gathers all charges, prepaid, postpaid and hybrid, due for the current settlement period and creates a convergent invoice for end customers and business partners. The billing can be run flexibly, in regular mode, on-demand, immediate, and in simulation mode. It allows dynamic invoice layout including electronic formats.

Billing Key features are

  • Collect charges for a billing period
  • Definition of billing cycles
  • One-time and recurring charges
  • Billing promotions and discounts
  • Prorating of recurring charges
  • Generation of invoices, including promotion details
  • Prepaid statements
  • Multiple bills for a single contract and a single bill for multiple contracts
  • Configurable rounding strategy
  • Parallel billing processes
  • Other Credits & Charges
  • Configures and calculates taxes

Billing Modes are

1- Regular Billing

  • Based on Bill Cycle definition
  • Executed at predefined date and time
  • Impact in data base

2- On Demand Billing

  • Any time between two regular Bill Cycles
  • Generated for a single or group of Customers
  • Billed from the last billing date until the virtual start date

3- Immediate Billing

  • Started Immediately for Customers or Group of Customers
  • Covers the Last Billing Date up to the precise moment the immediate billing run was launched
  • The billing mode is performed till most recent received UDR.

Billing Purpose

1) Regular billing: The real billing where bills are    generated and all the changes reflected in the database.

2) Information billing:  bills are produced for information purposes only .no changes are reflected to the database.

3) Simulation billing: bills are generated in the simulation billing only for the testing purpose. Simulation billing is normally used when new rate plans, services or promotions have been introduced.

To execute the customer billing below information are required.

  • Definition of billing cycles and due date
  • Customer type details ( e.g Large, Retail, Enterprise accounts etc)
  • One-time and recurring charges
  • Billing promotions and discounts
  • Prorating of recurring charges
  • Bill type e.g. Multiple bills for a single contract and a single bill for multiple contracts
  • Configurable rounding strategy
  • Late fee inclusion/exclusion criteria.
  • Other credit charges and rate plan details
  • Existing customized billing scripts details
  • Other credit charges and rate plan details

 

Advertisements

Short code


Short codes or short numbers are special telephone numbers, to address SMS and MMS messages from mobile phone or fixed phone. There are two types of short codes: dialing and messaging. Short codes are widely used for VAS such as television voting, ordering ringtones, interactive campaign etc.

Shorts codes are configured as Special numbering plan in system and there will be special tariff defined by the service provider for using short code service. Short code also differs from normal mobile range and charging pattern is also different from normal mobile charging pattern.

Charging pattern of Special number are mostly two types:

1: Normal charging

2: Reverse charging

Under Normal charging subscriber is liable to pay charges as per charging uses fixed by operator for using the service.

Eg: Suppose a SMS short code 8888 (CALLED_NUMBER) is provided by operator to activate caller tune and for using this service subscriber (CALLING_NUMBER) will be charged by amount X .In this scenario if a subscriber wants to activate caller tune on his mobile then for every SMS to this short code subscriber will pay amount X for using this service.

In Reverser Charging: CALLED_NUMBER will liable to pay if subscriber using the service.

Eg: suppose operator or CALLED_PARTY configured a short code (123456) for promotional offer (free service). If any subscriber (CALLING_PARTY) will SMS or call to this number then CALLED_PARTY will be libel to pay. In this scenario reverse charging on CALLED_PARTY will be set during rate plan configuration.

Closed User Group (CUG)


Closed User group (CUG) is a supplementary services provided by the mobile operators to mobile subscriber’s who can make and receive calls from member associated within the group. This service applicable for SMS also. There will be administrative owner who will be responsible for invoicing. Irrespective of this a CUG member can make and receive  calls to and from other networks ,other then CUG group too.

CUG Overview

Eg: Suppose a company name X ( lets say small organisation)  have N number of employees and they want to associates its employee with CUG rateplan CUGX. In this scenario all N employees have CUG rate plan other then normal rate plan. The rating of call made between all N employees will be rated with CUG rateplan CGUX. There will be one payment responsible who will be responsible to invoice.

Take an another example of Big organisation who have different hierarchy within organisation. Now the organisation want to setup different types of CUG rate plans with different access limit ( inbound and outbound limits) . Then mobile operator can provide N numbers of different CUG rate plans for as per company requirements. Now suppose a company have 2 different CUG rate plans ( eg: CUG1 and CUG2) for 2 different group types .If a mobile subscriber of CUG1 group make a call to member within the same group CUG1 then this will be IntraGroup CUG option and if Mobile subscriber of group with CUG rate plan CUG1 make a call to group with CUG rateplan CUG2 then the same will called InterGroup CUG option.

CUG rate plans are different from normal rate plans in various aspects: as

A: CUG rate plans are withing groups /organisation while normal customer rateplans are for all types of fixed lines,mobile ,specific number and International numbers.

B: CUG rate plans are for only telephony and SMS while normal rateplans are for telephony,SMS,GPRS,Blackberry.

Rating and invoicing of CUG calls:

Suppose a subscriber have normal rate plan ( RP1) and also they have CUG rate plan CUG1. Subscriber makes a calls within groups and outside groups in their billing cycle.

Suppose subscriber made N numbers of call in which X calls with Normal rate plan and Y calls with CUG rate plan. Then invoice will generate with both two rateplans.

At mediation end we segregate CUG calls with CUG Identification code ( Different billing system have different name) and send them for rating.

Telecom Rating process


Rating is process to calculate subscriber’s usage charges (Voice/SMS/Other services) as per subscriber’s rate plan and finally loaded into DB for further prospects. The rated CDR further sent to credit monitoring. When the credit amount on the customer’s balance has reached a certain limit, some predefined actions such as granting a discount or sending SMS alert to customer carried out. Rated CDR also further used to analysis of fraud in terms of high usage.

Rating of calls made on below parameters.

A: Time of call (off peak/on peak)

B: Usages volume (call duration/amount of data usage/ number of SMS sent/).

C: Destination (National/ International/Roaming)

D: Premium charges (third party charges).

There are various billing solution vendors available and they have their own rating chain for rating customer’s usage.

Generally we have two data bases :1-> Customer Data base: This stores the information about customer name/address,customer code, rate plan information, services activated ( primary /secondary) ,customer status ( Active/suspended/deactivated) ,IMSI and SIM information etc.

2: A CDR Database : This stores customers call records .like information about Calling party, called party ,IMEI,IMSI,Callduration, callstart time,call end time, swtich/trunk group used, Call type( MOC,MTC,Roaming,Transit…etc..).

The rating chain fetches customer’s information and rate plan applied on it from Customer DB and rate their usage in respect  to usage made reflecting on CDR DB.

Rate Plan configuration Basic:

configuring rate plans includes configuration of rates, services , time zone  etc. various billing operator provide different rating package configuration structure. In general we have to gone through below mentioned steps to setup rate plans:

§Services and Service Packages configuration ( Network and Non network Services)
§Time Packages configuration
§Zone Packages configuration
§Usage Packages configuration
§Rating Packages configuration
§Rateplan configuration ( Final rate plan)

Telecom Roaming


Roaming allows mobile subscriber to visit foreign network and continue to allow send and receive calls as they were within home network. Depending upon network services they subscribe they can use them as well e.g. Voicemail.

A subscriber can only roam in foreign network if their home operator has roaming agreement with foreign network. In such case foreign operator called roaming partner for home operator.

The foreign network send the call detail of visiting subscriber to their home network and invoice them for terminating  the call, then home network subsequently charges to subscriber for providing this facility.

When a foreign subscriber roam in home network the home network send call details of foreign subscriber to their respective foreign network and billed them.

Roaming agreement between different network are governed by number of different standered eg: TAP, CIBER, BARG

CASE: 1 :-> When Home subscriber in foreign network: Make a MOC call

In this case home network subscriber visited foreign network and originate a call.Foregin network route the call to their respective home network and finally home network terminate the call to destination partner.

AT HOME NETWORK:

1: Create/Maintain roaming agreement with foreign network

2: Collect and validate CDR send by foreign network of MOC call detail originating within their network and finally home subscriber rate the customer CDR and billed.

3: Return any dispute record within the agreement.

4: Making payment of invoice /settlement of invoices billed by foreign network.

AT FOREIGN NETWORK:

1: Rating of call and event records for subscriber of home network who visited into foreign network.

2: Providing CDR of subscriber to home network, Invoice them as per roaming agreement and settlement of invoices /disputes.

Case2: When home network subscriber in foreign network and receive incoming calls.

AT Home network MOC call generates first and check for called party profile on HLR. If called party is in foreign network then its VLR profile updated accordingly. The call then routed to foreign network.A roaming call forwarding call (RCF) is generated at Home MSC.

Roaming call forwarding call (RCF):RCF is  service by which the network forwards calls made to a subscriber who is roaming outside his HPMN.While the calling party pays for the part of the call in the subscriber’s HPMN, the subscriber in roaming has to pay for the roaming leg, i.e. the part outside his HPMN. It creates a MTC record from the <RCF> base part, which must be alone. The difference in between a MTC record from a MTC base part is the charge origin indicator being ‘R’ instead of ‘H’ or ‘F’ .

RCF record comes in MSC CDR and finally we rate RCF CDR as well and billed accordingly.

Roaming Testing:
Types:
A: IREG (International Roaming Expert Group)
B: TADIG (Transferred Account Data Interchange Group)

MONITORING OF ROAMING CALLS( ROLE OF DCH in GSM)

Data Clearing House (DCH) is a third party solution based on the GSMA specifications and guidelines. Various operator exchange billing information of the roaming calls as per agreement between them.

DCH provide various services to operators like TAP file conversion, TAP file validation, Inter operator tariff validation, Visitor customer activities, Fraud, Roaming agreement management between roaming partners, Invoicing to operators.

Near Real-Time Roaming Data Exchange (NRTRDE)

Near Real Time Roaming Data Exchange (NRTRDE) is CDR interchange workflow developed by GSMA to monitor customers’ activities in the VPMN (Visited Public Mobile Network) networks, and enables the HPMN (Home Public Mobile Network) to detect unauthorized network usage and other fraud issues near real time.

Operator generates NRTRDE files and sends to DCH for monitoring subscriber’s activities in visitor’s network.

Telecom Provisioning


In general, provisioning means “providing” or making something available. This is all about providing telecommunication service to customers, allocation of bandwidth needed.

There are three types of provisioning in general telecommunication concepts: circuit provisioning, service provisioning, and switch provisioning.

In a wireless environment, provisioning refers to service activation and involves programming various network databases with the customer’s information.

Basic Provisioning flow:

System scenario for provisioning :

SIMBOX fraud detection


What is SIMBOX:

A SIM box is device that maps the call from VoIP to a SIM card (in the SIM box) of the same mobile operator of the destination mobile,so that international call terminating as home call to subscriber country and usually cheap compared to the cost of terminating the international call.This is to just bypass international traffic.Commonly, SIM boxes are used to perpetrate bypass fraud, so we shall use this technique for illustration.

Normal call flow from Visitor country to home country Subscriber

In case of SIM BOX, call routing like

In this figure sim box is working as a ‘plug-in and work’ box that contains a mobile SIM card that is connected to a PBX or router. It can automatically reroute a call that would take place on a mobile network to a lower cost fixed or IP network.

Detection of fraud can be some what tricky because in some cases.

  1.  Some SIM boxes uses IMEI management.. which changes their IMEI constantly making it difficult to detect.
  2.  MSISDN’s are also changes regularly.

In general, the fraud can be analyzed with constantly looking various calling parameters. Further these parameters can classified into Indicators. These indicators can be used to analyze frequent usage of MSISDN and IMSI for RA perspective  .

The Indicators are based on;

  1. High volume of calls from the same MSISDN’s and IMEI’s.
  2. High volume of calls from the same cell id (this boxes are located in an office).
  3. Last recourse would be to call terminating customers and try to find out about the quality of the calls.

For shake we divide indicators.

  1. Indicator 0 – Flags high incoming calls from other carriers for potential simbox terminating to Aparty.
  2. Indicator 1 – Flags high outgoing calls for potential simbox operators and other form of fraud/abuse in usage
  3. Indicator 2 – Flags high SMS for potential abuse in usage or virus mobile phones
  4. Indicator 3 – Use to detect high usage subscribers for potential fraud/abuse in usage
  5. Indicator 4&5 – related IMEI/IMSI stuffing