Telecom Billing Introduction - Telecom Billing

What are different billing types?

Sending voice, data, picture, fax, etc., from one point to another point by using electronic media is known as telecommunication and in short 'telecom'. Examples of telecom include Phone, Radio, Television and Internet. The medium of transmission can include Wire (Copper), Fiber Optics, Ether (wireless), Radio towers, Microwave, Satellite, etc.

Below are some of the international telecom operators who provide satisfactory telecom services to customers

  • Verizon
  • Vodafone
  • Airtel
  • TATA
  • Etisalat
  • Qtel

Below are some of the basic telecom services provided by different telecom operators

  • Voice Call
  • Fax Service
  • SMS & MMS
  • Internet Connection
  • Data Download and Upload
  • Video Conferencing
  • IP based services, i.e., voice over IP or VPN

Telecom operators charge their customers in different ways, but two main parameters are used to charge a customer

  • Rental Charges – some fixed amount of charges will be taken from the customers on monthly basis against the services they provide. For example, telephones monthly charges would be $5.00 despite you use it or not.
  • Usage Charges – customers will be charged based on the service usage. For example, customers will be charged for the calls they make or for the data downloaded using the 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 to collect usage, aggregate it, apply required usage and rental charges, and finally generate invoices for the customers. Telecom billing process also includes receiving and recording payments from the customers.

Billing Systems

There can be very difficult charging scenarios which will be difficult to handle manually. State-of-the-art Billing Systems are available in the software market which handle billing tasks very competently and provide many flexibilities to the service providers to offer their services with different price structures.

Billing systems are often viewed as accounts receivable, as the billing system helps to collect (receipt) of money from customers. Billing systems are also part of accounts payable (for inter-carrier settlements), as customers frequently use services from other companies such as wireless roaming, long distance and call completion using other networks.

Billing systems are high end, reliable, and expensive softwares, which provide several functionalities. Below is the list of most important features

  • Rating & billing – this feature will rate the product or service based on their usage and to produce monthly bills.
  • Payment processing – this feature will post the customer's payments into his/her account.
  • Credit control and collections – this feature will track the outstanding payments and take suitable actions to collect the payments.
  • Disputes and adjustments – this feature records customer's arguments against their bills and creates adjustment to refund the disputed amount in order to settle the disputes.
  • Pre-pay and post-pay services – this feature supports both the pre-paid and the post-paid customer bases.
  • Multilingual & multiple currencies − Multilingual and multiple currencies support is needed if the business is spread across the globe and have multinational customers or else if the government regulations demand for it.
  • Inter-carrier settlements – this feature shares the revenue between carriers which provide services to each other's customers.
  • Products & services – this feature provides a flexible way for maintaining various products and services and selling them separately or in packages.
  • Discount applications – this feature defines various discount schemes in order to decrease customer churn and attract and increase customer base.

Billing Types

Below are some of the widely used billing types

  • Pre-pay Billing – this is a billing method where customer will pay in advance and after that they start using the service. Usually, prepaid customers will not receive any invoice and they will be charged in real time by the highly available billing systems called 'IN'(Intelligent Network).
  • Post-pay Billing − this is the conservative billing method where the customer will pay after the usage at the end of every month. Invoice will be generated by the service provider and sent to the customers to make their due payment.
  • Interconnect Billing: Network operator will be financially responsible for the services provided to its customers by other networks regardless of whether the customer pays for the service or not. Interconnect billing will be related to inter-carrier or sometime called partner settlements.
  • Roaming Charges − When a customer travels from one state to other state, first network operator will pay marginal charges to the second operator to provide services to their customers in their state. These types of charges will be settled through roaming billing. This settlement will be done as per TAP3 protocol which will be discussed in the upcoming chapters.
  • Convergent Billing − Convergent billing will integrate all the service charges onto a single customer invoice. Convergent billing will create a combined view of the customer and all services (Mobile, Fixed, IP, etc.,) provided to that customer.

Billing System Vendors

As billing Systems are the backbone of any telecom operator, operators should have a strong billing system, else it they cannot offer their products and services with attractive promotions and deals and ultimately they will not be able to stand in today's competitive and dynamic market.

There are thousands of vendors who sell their billing products with many features, but there are a few in the market which are really good and most commonly used. Some of the good billing systems are listed below



Convergys IRB

Amdocs Ensemble

AMS Tapestry

Kenan Arbor

Single View

Portal Infranet

Ericsson IN

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