Telecom Billing System Architecture - Telecom Billing

What is the architecture of billing system and what are the billing system requirements?

Below diagram depicts the typical architecture of a Billing System

billing-system-architecture

Here, there are two possibilities

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)/OMOF (Order Management and Order Fulfillment) system associates with the billing system and billing system associates with the provisioning system to stipulate the services and network inventory system as well to assign phone numbers or IP addresses, etc.
  • Second possibility could be that the CRM/OMOF system itself associates with provisioning system to stipulate the services and network inventory system as well to assign phone numbers or IP addresses, etc.

Typical Billing Process

Considering the above system architecture: → when a call is ended, mediation system will gather the usage data from the network switch and it will build a call-detail record (CDR). This CDR should contain 'A' party number and 'B' party number, start and the end date & times.

CDR will then be stored until it is rated. To rate a call, CDR will be examined to check if the call is, for example, an 800 number, a local call covered by a local-area calling plan, international call or a toll call. Information such as time of the call will be placed and city code or country codes will be used for calculating the rate for the call.

When each call is rated, this information will then be stored until the invoice is run, usually once a month. When the invoice is run, other nonusage charges like discounts or monthly fees will be applied to the bill or sometime called invoice.

There can be a rating time discount or billing time discount, different payments done by the customers, different adjustments given, all these information contribute in the final invoice generation.

This information will then be converted into a format which is printed in a readable form. Finally envelope will be printed, stuffed with enclosures and mailed to the end customer.

Billing System Requirements

Billing system consists of a series of independent applications which when run together will be known as the billing system. A good billing system should provide below major functionalities with a depth of flexibility

  • Customer-interface Management − billing system should handle customer-initiated contact, manage outbound customer contact and manage the contact life cycle.
  • Order Management − It is a basic functionality which is available in a typical billing system. Billing system should be competent enough to capture product & service order and manage the order-entry life cycle, and oversee the order-completion life cycle.
  • Sales and Marketing − A satisfactory billing system is capable of answering customer's query, handling commissions, providing sales support, tracking prospects, managing campaigns, analyzing product performance and acquiring multiple dwelling units.
  • Rate Plans and Rating − Billing system should be capable of managing a variety of products and services, different rate plans linked with those products and services and should provide flexible ways to rate the usage generated by those products and services.
  • Discounting − Billing system should be capable of providing various types of discounts on different usages and rentals.
  • Invoicing − System should perform billing inquiry, generates bills, processes deposits, performs account administration, maintains tax and fee information and processes financial information.
  • Credit Control & Collection − Billing system should control usage and revenue by assigning different credit classes to different customers. System should support payment collection and apply them on different invoices.
  • Multilingual Support − Multilingual support includes providing invoices and customer care services in multiple languages.
  • Multiple Currencies − Multiple currencies used in different countries cause difficulties to the billing system because the billing and customer care system should be capable to record and process in units of multiple currencies.
  • Partner revenue management − Partner revenue management is the sharing revenue among carriers which provide services to each other's customers.
  • Problem Handling − A billing system should also be capable of managing trouble-ticket entry, coordinate trouble-ticket closure, and track the resolution progress of a trouble ticket.
  • Performance Reporting − A satisfactory system should provide performance reporting, ensure quality-of-service (QoS) reporting, create management reports, and generate regulatory reports.
  • Installation and Maintenance − System should also provide workforce scheduling and manage the activities performed at the customer premises.
  • Auditing & Security − Billing system should perform data audits and integrity checks because a secure system is always wanted by an operator.

Apart from the above functionalities, a good billing system should

  • Accelerate time-to-market for new service launches.
  • Enable convergent view of customers and products.
  • Support cost-efficient architectural scalability.
  • Enable partner relationship management and settlement.
  • Reduce total cost of ownership.

What is Next?

In the next chapter, we will try to cover the entire process starting from defining products and services, associating plan and tariffs with those products, acquiring customers (selling products to the end customers), capturing usage generated by those customers, rating and billing of the usage to send a final bill to those customers.

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