The Telecom Billing Process
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
The Telecom Billing Process
Telecommunications (telecom) billing is a complex process with a variety of components. It relies on collecting accurate data and processing it so providers can bill customers correctly, keeping them happy and ensuring providers receive the proper payment for their services. The telecom billing process looks similar for several types of services, from internet access to texting, but each process needs to collect and transmit different types of data.
Let's take a closer look at telecom billing basics and how these services end up in a customer invoice.
What Types of Telecom Services Are Billed?
Phone calls are a classic form of telecom services, but there are many different services that are billed in a similar way. Types of telecom services include:
Mobile services such as phone calls, text messages and data usage on a mobile device.
Internet and TV subscriptions, which often come in a variety of speeds and packages.
On-demand purchases like apps and movies.
Internet of Things (IoT) usage, such as with a smart home and other connected devices.
Cloud computing, including remote servers.
Telecom already includes a range of services, but we only expect them to diversify in the future as 5G grows. New tech like IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly emerging, and 5G has applications for health care, autonomous vehicles, public safety and much more. The backend services that allow this tech to work are key for making it more viable and adoptable for industries and the general public. As technology continues to evolve, demand is on the rise and telecom services need to keep pace.
How Telecom Billing Works
The telecom billing process is also referred to as "quote-order-cash." Typically, the customer has a monthly service plan that allows them to be billed for their usage. Even if they are charged a flat fee, the service provider needs to know the details of the services the customer used for various reasons, such as industry requirements, vendor payments and charging within the appropriate service tier.
However the customer is billed, the telecom billing system generally looks like this:
1. Event Generation
First, an event is generated, whether the customer is making a phone call, sending a text, receiving content from a web server or using another service from a telecom provider.
2. Usage Data Capture
Shortly after the event is generated, many different types of data are captured and recorded in a call detail record (CDR). Different CDRs can be generated for various parts of a network, such as voice or data services. Captured data can vary between providers, but some common pieces of information collected include:
Phone numbers of the calling and receiving parties, sometimes known as A-party and B-party, respectively.
Start time and date of the call.
A unique, identifying sequence number.
Result of the call, such as whether it was picked up or dropped.
Type of call.
3. Rate Assignment
Prior to this step, there's no price attached to the CDR, so a billing system wouldn't know how much to charge for the event. A rating system adds this price according to certain characteristics in the CDR. You can add pricing structures based on factors like long-distance calling or the time of day the call was placed.
A mediation system steps in to collect the various CDRs that may be involved. It processes them and turns them into a format that's compatible with the next system in the lineup, typically a billing system. The mediation step may also involve adding rules for processing that helps the billing system understand the information.
Finally, the billing system receives the information. Billing platforms can vary widely, but they generate a bill based on the information gathered in the previous steps. Some systems can automatically send electronic bills, collect payments in different formats, provide customer-facing usage data and more to automate the process.
The Consequences of Telecom Billing Errors
Errors in any billing system can create problems, but in the complex telecom environment, inaccurate data can have many adverse effects for the customer and provider. Telecom data errors can affect:
Record validation: A dependable billing solution can help you ensure the accuracy of the information that goes into your billing system. With every step of the process working correctly, you can better ensure payment for services provided and reduce errors that can easily multiply when you're working with thousands, or even millions, of calls.
Billing simplicity: The many details of telecom billing create several opportunities for error. Accurate usage data and referential telecom data can help you simplify business processes by minimizing complications and streamlining billing.
Additional data: More comprehensive telecom data is great for expanding analytics and improving customer offerings. Without it, you may lack important insights that can affect decision-making capabilities. Data can also enable more detailed customer-facing information, like real-time usage data about their account. Customers often use this information to reduce their bills and monitor their spending throughout the month.
Customer satisfaction: If bills frequently have errors, your customers may get frustrated. Maintaining accurate data helps you provide error-free bills, contributing to greater customer satisfaction.
Where Does Reliable Data Come In?
Reliable data is essential to automating the various steps of telecom billing. By linking up your systems to a robust referential database, you can bring simplicity to the process. It's easy to define local calling areas, call types and more to drill down into the many factors that go into billing telecom customers. NPA-NXX databases, call rating data, and jurisdictional data can help you better understand where your traffic is coming from for accurate automation and billing.
Accurate data enables you to attach the appropriate price and allows the billing system to display the right information. Jurisdictional data, for instance, provides comprehensive information on traffic for identifying local and international calls — a key part of charging customers the right amount for their service.
Use Our Database for Accurate Telecom Billing
KFR Services offers a range of telecom database services to help you achieve more reliable, profitable billing and minimize errors. We aim to streamline your billing through 100% accuracy. Our comprehensive dataset incorporates information from numerous public sources and is easy to integrate into your software for seamless operations.
Our services include jurisdiction data, dialing plans and NPA-NXX databases. We can help you gather all the necessary reference points for billing customers and receiving payments, including back payments. To learn more about the solutions from KFR Services, reach out to us online or give us a call at (800) 433-6181.