Reconciling services

If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.”
Timothy B. Tyson

There are two main categories of billing:

  • Metering
  • Charging

In the case of metering, this is the measurement of actual usage of communication services. An example would be the flagfall upon setup of a telephone call and an additional cost per second/minute that the phone conversation lasts. Metering statistics are derived from CDRs (Call Data Records) collected by the voice switches for traditional telephony services, allowing the CSP to bill for specific usage. Another example is the amount of data consumed on capped Internet services.

When the CSP offers a service for a flat-fee, such as DSL line rental, the charging statistics tend to be derived from the BSS, which has recorded service subscription details.

To clarify the point, billing is dependent on two levels:

  • The network – which is responsible for delivering services (and recording metering statistics if relevant to the type of service)
  • The BSS – which is responsible for maintaining details on customers and the services they’ve subscribed to

Revenue leakage tends to occur if there are discrepancies between these two levels. For example, if a service is established in the network but not recorded in the BSS for a flat-fee-based product, then the BSS has no records to bill against. Conversely, if a service is activated for a customer in the BSS but not provisioned in the network then customers will be billed for a service that doesn’t actually exist.

It pays to routinely reconcile the two layers to ensure that revenue loss isn’t occurring. Note that this is just one of a myriad of revenue protection mechanisms a CSP should have in place, but it is one of the most fundamental starting points.

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