Events Based Billing

In a world of IP based communications and applications we are now very far removed from just billing lines and minutes. Today we need billing solutions that can easily encompass the flexibility afforded by the likes of hosted telephony for fast turning on and turning off individual applications. Lee Crowe, Managing Director of Arbitel says his billing system provides all the answers a reseller needs.

Hosted telephony can deliver applications fast and flexibly. You can turn features on an off when you want which is a huge advantage for users that have fluctuating business needs such as seasonal activity or product promotions.

Take a call centre application for example. In a traditional PBX deployment model a user pays for say 100 seats or user licenses at the outset of a contract. It may be that they only have 70 agents at that time but are planning to expand over the next two years and so they pay for 30 licences more than they need.

“That’s a waste of money!” says Lee Crowe, Managing Director of hosted telephony provider Arbitel. “The next thing you know the user will be charged for another 30 licences for a year or more when they undertake a sales campaign that only lasts two months. It’s a trap the CPE model lays at the door of the unsuspecting user.

In the same scenario the hosted deployment model works to the advantage of the user. They start by paying for 70 users on a per user per month basis and add individual users as they expand to the anticipated 100 or more users. No waste there. If they want an extra 30 licences for two months then that is all they will pay for. It’s the ultimate in flexibility.

The trouble is that traditional billing systems just can’t cope with these events based changes automatically and let’s face it, once the user knows that he can turn on and turn off features almost at will then they will soon realise they can control their costs far more easily than with the CPE alternatives and so the frequency at which they change their configurations will increase as a result.

In the past it was left to the SP to pick up on these changes manually and enter the start and end periods for the billing of each feature turned on and off per user. As you can imagine, this is likely to turn in to a huge catalogue of errors and either the under or over billing of the customer. Apart from a less than happy user the other problem is that disputes of this kind take an age to sort out.

That is why Arbitel deploys a real time, events based billing solution. Based on Microsoft SQL and built upon start/end dates our Telavanti billing system provides accuracy combined with flexibility and user friendliness. Telavanti is one of the first to do this with a Broadsoft platform, which our service is based upon.

Easy Bundles

Gaining competitive advantage is key in any market and in communications service one of the most successful ways of achieving this is by offering a bundled array of services – often bespoke to individual end users.

Say for example a simple core bundled offering included the hosted seat and 1000 minutes per month. This is simple to set up and bill using automatic events based billing driven by EDRs (Events Detail Records) as opposed to CDRs – our billing does CDRs as well by the way. If you were including hunt groups and voicemail in the bundle then as soon as these features were activated for any user the events log would pick up the application and bill it accordingly until the application was turned off.

Now because the Telavanti solution is fully integrated with the Broadsoft platform and pushes the event information to the billing engine automatically the possibility of human error is removed. The result is more accurate billing, far fewer disputes and a happier customer. In parallel billing runs alongside a traditional billing solution we have saved users very large sums.

You also get a happier reseller as well as they know they are billing for all the services supplied.

Reseller access to the billing solution is simple via our portal or we can supply the reseller with a virtual instance of the system. Some partners use both methods.

More reseller advantages include a universal CDR import system – carriers change their tariffs so often it can be a pain for resellers. Before you press the go button you can also assign rules to database fields and self-test the system for accuracy.

Built from the ground up for the communications applications of today the Telavanti system can deal with mobile, hosted applications as well as lines and calls, broadband, network services, mobile broadband and VoIP.

In a nutshell, the benefits to users include fast system configuration, bespoke bundled application deployment for differentiation. Arbitel lets our partners decide how they want to take service to market instead of proscribing how to do it like many of our competitors.

Resellers tell us they love the flexibility we offer and especially like the itemised events logs they see on bills showing activation and cessation dates. Also, unlike other hosted providers we display the wholesale costs in the EDR files which makes for much easier onward billing for our resellers. We even have some partners receiving their EDR logs on a daily basis.

New developments of the billing system continue and we will be announcing new features shortly.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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