VoIP billing and routing system

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Basic billing and routing functions


VoIP billing and routing system is commonly refered to a set of software that fulfils the following functions:

Call detail records (CDRs) collection from switching equpment that processes calls

It can be either VoIP or TDM equipment.
The method of delivery of CDRs from the switching layer to the billing one can vary depending on the switch capabilites. it can be either:
- realtime CDRs delivery. In most cases RADIUS protocol is used for real-time CDRs delivery.
- non-realtime CDRs delivery. In this case CDRs are simply copied from the switch server to the billing server at predefined time intervals.

Calls and other events authorization

For this purpose RADIUS protocol is also used. For every event (such as call initiation or wifi/xdsl session start) the switching equipment sends Access Request to the billing system asking if the mentioned user is authorized to initiate this event. Billing system checks database of users, rates, permisions, routing plans and gives either positive or negative response in the form of Access Accept or Access Reject messages. Access Accept message normally contains information about the portion of service that this user is authorized to consume (for example, the number of minutes the user is allowed to call to the called number).

Calls and other events billing

This is the process of applying of rates that are in the billing system database onto the events the user performs. It also implies charging the user account according to the amount of the consumed service multiplied by the rate for the service.

Call routing

To perform billing aided routing switching equipment sends routing requests to a routing system (which is normally combined with billing system) for every call that arrives.

Normally, there are 2 widely adopted protocols that are used to provide routing control:
ENUM - is a protocol originally used to request current location of a user from global user directory. Currently, many switch vendors support this interface to request routing from external routing systems. For example: Nextone switch supports this protocol (though Nextone is no longer Nextone and not even a Nextpoint, still there is a great number of these switches used worldwide).

SIP 302 - this is a method that is inherent to SIP protocol specifications. The 302 message declares that the called party has moved to another location and the calling party should try to reach this number (user) in the location provided inside the 302 message. So, normally that means that the switch upon recieving a call from originator forwards this call to the routing system that replies back with SIP 302 message which contain "new locations" of the called party. These locations are the gateways that the switch should send the call to.

Regular routing system allow for creating static and simple dynamic routing rules that provide for either static forwarding calls to the manually defined vendors or chossing vendors based on cost of termination (so called LCR routing - Least Cost Routing).

Routing system check internal routing rules and returns a list of destination endpoints to which this call should be routed. This list is a prioritized list of terminating partners' gateways and the switch is supposed to send calls to them in the given priority.

Advanced routing


It is worth mentioning that the described below routing capabilites are not found in simple routing systems. The described functionality is specific to Alaris Labs VoIP billing and routing system

The routing system is normally aware of the call origination and termination costs, as well as of statistical parameters of the traffic (such as ACD, ASR, NER, PDD and other characteristics of traffic portions).

Modern routing systems (Alaris Labs routing system for example) use user-defined formulas that give the possibility to define absolutely any routing pattern that can take into consideration cost, quality and quantity (number of minutes, calls) of traffic in any desired proportion. For example, it is possible to set formula that will route calls to vendors based on their price, but if the price is the same, then, based on combined value of ASR, ACD, PDD.

Due to flexibility of the formula based approach in routing it is even possible to setup automated testing of new and failed destinations and vendors. For example, there is a destination A from vendor B which ASR is normally 38%. Current routing schema defines that the system should send calls to destinations which ASR is not less than 35% (this is to provide for SLA signed off with the customer). At one point the ASR for the given Destination-Vendor pair goes down to 25%, the system will swtich this pair out of routing due to degraded quality. But in order to check if the quality on this route has gone back to normal, one needs to send a few calls to test this destination. Formula based approach allows creating a formula that will send small portions of calls to those destinations and vendors that are not in routing at the moment in order to check current statistical values of the destination-vendor pair.

This way the whole routing system becomes absolutely self-sufficient:
1. it is able to stop routing calls to low quality destinations
2. it is able to test low quality destinations
3. it is able to start routing to them again once the stats are OK.

If the routing formula contains reference to rates, then, it is even possible to limit the work of the routing manager to uploading new rates into the system only. The routing system will automatically take into consideration those Destination-Vendor pairs that have rates for the call in progress.

Advanced billing and routing functions


Advanced billing and routing functions are not found in any billing and routing system, but are specific to certain billing vendor. Normally, the way each of the function is created is a know-how of the billing vendor.

Alaris Labs billing and routing system is a system that holds a handful of unique features that are mostly wanted by existing wholesale VoIP carriers.

Top ten billing and routing features (by the degree of importance for wholesale operations)


Rate import

Rate management and rate import in particular are the most heavily used tools in any billing system. This is why we tried hard to make it as convenient as possible. And we did it! Here are a few key features of our rate import tool:

Dial code and destination input flexibility. The imported dial codes may look like this (1201, 1202, 1203) or like this (1201-1203) or like this (120[1-3]). Country codes may be given in a separate column, or dialcodes and rates can be given on separate Excel worksheets. The tool will identify any typical way of code list representation and will import the codes correctly.

Intelligent. Peak/offpeak rates supported with the ability to automatically take the rate type name from the imported file. Multiple billing increments within one file can be easily handled. During the import process the system adjusts the validity intervals of the rates according to the time difference between the local and the partner time zones. If an imported dial code is not yet in the system code reference book, the tool will update the reference book.

Extremely fast. It takes it only a few minutes to import a rate sheet of 100,000 rates.

Extremely neat. We embedded 30+ checks into the import process: the import tool checks the new rates for syntax errors, compares increase dates with the ones stipulated in the agreement with this partner (including implicit increases, such as new or closed rates with different dial code length), correctly closes existing rates to avoid double rates in the database. Importing rates in the past triggers rerating of already billed calls, which is done in the background during non-peak hours.

Very convenient. All the import process steps are visualized and you always know what the system is doing at a given moment.

Template-based. Once you have configured the parser to accept a ratesheet format, you won't have to do it again. Thus, the process of importing partner rates for the second time takes only a few seconds! Naturally, the parser configuration is all web-based and very user-friendly.

Rate export

This tool is useful when you need to present your current rates to someone who does not have access to the system: for example, to your clients. Additionally, when rates change the tool automatically notifies the system owner and the affected customers about the event.

Third-party target and offer analysis

If you are in the voice transit business, you are sure to deal with tons of offers and targets that your potential partners and clients give you for evaluation. With this tool the whole process of third-party offer and target management gets a lot easier!

Now you are able to process new offers in a semi-automatic way: the tool will highlight potentially profitable destinations in the offered rate plan, will compare it with prices available from your current vendors, will calculate the estimated amount of traffic the new vendor might have gained if it had been in routing in the last few days, will give you an indication of how much traffic you have for the requested destination. Also it is possible to get an instant view of the position of the new vendor in the general LCR and easily filter only the destinations where either the new supplier offers the best pricing or it makes sense to negotiate the rates. And finally, you can compare a vendor or client ratesheet with a manually selected list of products – e.g., to see how the new rates fit in the price level of your system-wide customer products (Wholesale, Retail etc.).

Rate plan creation

This is a very-very-very useful tool for client rate plan management. Creating client rate plans has never been easier: the tool automatically calculates the base for the call costs from the real statistics of your traffic; this call cost base is used to create a customer rate plan by adding the desired margin: either a per cent wise, or fixed value wise (the margin type and values can depend on the cost interval – i.e. you can make it different for costs of 0-3 cents and 3-5 cents). Additionaly, it is possible to schedule automatic client rate plan changes (say, once a week) according to the updated call cost base. This allows you to automatically increase client rates if your suppliers have sent you an increase, but on the other hand the system leaves you the option to keep the current client rates as long as they are profitable (to increase the chances that the customers will stay wth you).

Once defined, the rate plan creation logics runs without any user interference. All clients and the system owner will be notified about the rate changes after each new run.

Analytics

Are you tired of waiting minutes and dozens of minutes for the system to produce a «last 24 hours ASR and ACD report» for you? Now it takes only a few seconds for such a report to show up: we calculate the most wanted statistical layouts of the traffic immediately after CDRs arrive in the database and store them in OLAP cubes. When you request a certain statistical report (ASR, ACD, Margin, NER, etc…), we don’t have to calculate it – it is already in the database, we just need to present it to you. That is why it is so fast!

Report builder

This tool combines two very important applications:

1. It gives you the ability to build custom reports based on any CDR field with the option to compare quality and quantity characteristics of a group of CDRs for two given time intervals (e.g.: compare ASR for today with ASR for the same day one week ago)

2. Running in the background according to a schedule, it can be used as an automatic traffic monitoring and alerting mechanism

CDR export and CDR reconciliation tools

If you come across a dispute with your traffic exchange partner, these two tools are of the most value here: you can either export CDRs from the database to present them to your partner or upload your partner's CDRs and the tool will tell you exactly what discrepancy causes the dispute.

Invoices

No business is done without collecting payments from your customers. Now you can easily automate this process: invoices are not only generated automatically, but are sent with the ability to control the delivery.

Financial reports

You financial officer would love these reports.

Profit & Loss statement, Cash flow statement, Accounts statement. The three basic accounting reports give you the full picture of the financial side of your business.

Routing

The routing capability of inVoice is something that we are really proud of. Imagine that you have several switches on your network, all of them from different vendors (this is because your network was not built in one day, but grew little by little over time); and now you can control all your swiches from one central place – Alaris Labs inVoice routing interface.

In a word, the system is able to control routing decisions on any reasonable number of underlying VoIP and TDM switches.

We managed to alloy several key attributes in one single product:

1. Minimum response time to constantly changing traffic conditions. The routing rules are adjusted in real-time manner.

2. Incredible throughput capacity of the routing interface. A single routing node can handle up to 300 calls per second. Need more? Just add more nodes!

3. Ability to control routing on almost any switching equipment. We take advantage of SIP and SS7 redirect methods, which are supported by 99% of switching equipment in the world.

Key features:

1. Automated positive margin control. Let mathematical algorithms do the business for you.

2. Generic rules for all clients (no need to create new rules for new clients)

3. Fully self-sufficient. No need for human interaction (if properly configured once)

4. Ability to maintain SLAs (also automatically)

5. Easily combine dynamic and static routing schemes.


Alaris Labs contact information


Alaris Labs welcomes you to visit our web-site, ask questions about our product or about any VoIP related issue.
We will be happy to share our experience, no matter whether you will become our valued customer or not.

For enquires from any country except North America

Address: Rodionova str. 197/2, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 603126

Tel.: +1.888.682.5416 (Toll Free for USA & Canada)

Tel.: +7.831.2143021

Email: sales@alarislabs.com

URL: http://www.alarislabs.com


For enquires from North America

Please contact our appointed partner Vera Networks, LLC


Basic billing and routing functions


VoIP billing and routing system is commonly refered to a set of software that fulfils the following functions:

Call detail records (CDRs) collection from switching equpment that processes calls

It can be either VoIP or TDM equipment.
The method of delivery of CDRs from the switching layer to the billing one can vary depending on the switch capabilites. it can be either:
- realtime CDRs delivery. In most cases RADIUS protocol is used for real-time CDRs delivery.
- non-realtime CDRs delivery. In this case CDRs are simply copied from the switch server to the billing server at predefined time intervals.

Calls and other events authorization

For this purpose RADIUS protocol is also used. For every event (such as call initiation or wifi/xdsl session start) the switching equipment sends Access Request to the billing system asking if the mentioned user is authorized to initiate this event. Billing system checks database of users, rates, permisions, routing plans and gives either positive or negative response in the form of Access Accept or Access Reject messages. Access Accept message normally contains information about the portion of service that this user is authorized to consume (for example, the number of minutes the user is allowed to call to the called number).

Calls and other events billing

This is the process of applying of rates that are in the billing system database onto the events the user performs. It also implies charging the user account according to the amount of the consumed service multiplied by the rate for the service.

Call routing

To perform billing aided routing switching equipment sends routing requests to a routing system (which is normally combined with billing system) for every call that arrives.

Normally, there are 2 widely adopted protocols that are used to provide routing control:
ENUM - is a protocol originally used to request current location of a user from global user directory. Currently, many switch vendors support this interface to request routing from external routing systems. For example: Nextone switch supports this protocol (though Nextone is no longer Nextone and not even a Nextpoint, still there is a great number of these switches used worldwide).

SIP 302 - this is a method that is inherent to SIP protocol specifications. The 302 message declares that the called party has moved to another location and the calling party should try to reach this number (user) in the location provided inside the 302 message. So, normally that means that the switch upon recieving a call from originator forwards this call to the routing system that replies back with SIP 302 message which contain "new locations" of the called party. These locations are the gateways that the switch should send the call to.

Regular routing system allow for creating static and simple dynamic routing rules that provide for either static forwarding calls to the manually defined vendors or chossing vendors based on cost of termination (so called LCR routing - Least Cost Routing).

Routing system check internal routing rules and returns a list of destination endpoints to which this call should be routed. This list is a prioritized list of terminating partners' gateways and the switch is supposed to send calls to them in the given priority.

Advanced routing


It is worth mentioning that the described below routing capabilites are not found in simple routing systems. The described functionality is specific to Alaris Labs VoIP billing and routing system

The routing system is normally aware of the call origination and termination costs, as well as of statistical parameters of the traffic (such as ACD, ASR, NER, PDD and other characteristics of traffic portions).

Modern routing systems (Alaris Labs routing system for example) use user-defined formulas that give the possibility to define absolutely any routing pattern that can take into consideration cost, quality and quantity (number of minutes, calls) of traffic in any desired proportion. For example, it is possible to set formula that will route calls to vendors based on their price, but if the price is the same, then, based on combined value of ASR, ACD, PDD.

Due to flexibility of the formula based approach in routing it is even possible to setup automated testing of new and failed destinations and vendors. For example, there is a destination A from vendor B which ASR is normally 38%. Current routing schema defines that the system should send calls to destinations which ASR is not less than 35% (this is to provide for SLA signed off with the customer). At one point the ASR for the given Destination-Vendor pair goes down to 25%, the system will swtich this pair out of routing due to degraded quality. But in order to check if the quality on this route has gone back to normal, one needs to send a few calls to test this destination. Formula based approach allows creating a formula that will send small portions of calls to those destinations and vendors that are not in routing at the moment in order to check current statistical values of the destination-vendor pair.

This way the whole routing system becomes absolutely self-sufficient:
1. it is able to stop routing calls to low quality destinations
2. it is able to test low quality destinations
3. it is able to start routing to them again once the stats are OK.

If the routing formula contains reference to rates, then, it is even possible to limit the work of the routing manager to uploading new rates into the system only. The routing system will automatically take into consideration those Destination-Vendor pairs that have rates for the call in progress.

Advanced billing and routing functions


Advanced billing and routing functions are not found in any billing and routing system, but are specific to certain billing vendor. Normally, the way each of the function is created is a know-how of the billing vendor.

Alaris Labs billing and routing system is a system that holds a handful of unique features that are mostly wanted by existing wholesale VoIP carriers.

Top ten billing and routing features (by the degree of importance for wholesale operations)


Rate import

Rate management and rate import in particular are the most heavily used tools in any billing system. This is why we tried hard to make it as convenient as possible. And we did it! Here are a few key features of our rate import tool:

Dial code and destination input flexibility. The imported dial codes may look like this (1201, 1202, 1203) or like this (1201-1203) or like this (120[1-3]). Country codes may be given in a separate column, or dialcodes and rates can be given on separate Excel worksheets. The tool will identify any typical way of code list representation and will import the codes correctly.

Intelligent. Peak/offpeak rates supported with the ability to automatically take the rate type name from the imported file. Multiple billing increments within one file can be easily handled. During the import process the system adjusts the validity intervals of the rates according to the time difference between the local and the partner time zones. If an imported dial code is not yet in the system code reference book, the tool will update the reference book.

Extremely fast. It takes it only a few minutes to import a rate sheet of 100,000 rates.

Extremely neat. We embedded 30+ checks into the import process: the import tool checks the new rates for syntax errors, compares increase dates with the ones stipulated in the agreement with this partner (including implicit increases, such as new or closed rates with different dial code length), correctly closes existing rates to avoid double rates in the database. Importing rates in the past triggers rerating of already billed calls, which is done in the background during non-peak hours.

Very convenient. All the import process steps are visualized and you always know what the system is doing at a given moment.

Template-based. Once you have configured the parser to accept a ratesheet format, you won't have to do it again. Thus, the process of importing partner rates for the second time takes only a few seconds! Naturally, the parser configuration is all web-based and very user-friendly.

Rate export

This tool is useful when you need to present your current rates to someone who does not have access to the system: for example, to your clients. Additionally, when rates change the tool automatically notifies the system owner and the affected customers about the event.

Third-party target and offer analysis

If you are in the voice transit business, you are sure to deal with tons of offers and targets that your potential partners and clients give you for evaluation. With this tool the whole process of third-party offer and target management gets a lot easier!

Now you are able to process new offers in a semi-automatic way: the tool will highlight potentially profitable destinations in the offered rate plan, will compare it with prices available from your current vendors, will calculate the estimated amount of traffic the new vendor might have gained if it had been in routing in the last few days, will give you an indication of how much traffic you have for the requested destination. Also it is possible to get an instant view of the position of the new vendor in the general LCR and easily filter only the destinations where either the new supplier offers the best pricing or it makes sense to negotiate the rates. And finally, you can compare a vendor or client ratesheet with a manually selected list of products – e.g., to see how the new rates fit in the price level of your system-wide customer products (Wholesale, Retail etc.).

Rate plan creation

This is a very-very-very useful tool for client rate plan management. Creating client rate plans has never been easier: the tool automatically calculates the base for the call costs from the real statistics of your traffic; this call cost base is used to create a customer rate plan by adding the desired margin: either a per cent wise, or fixed value wise (the margin type and values can depend on the cost interval – i.e. you can make it different for costs of 0-3 cents and 3-5 cents). Additionaly, it is possible to schedule automatic client rate plan changes (say, once a week) according to the updated call cost base. This allows you to automatically increase client rates if your suppliers have sent you an increase, but on the other hand the system leaves you the option to keep the current client rates as long as they are profitable (to increase the chances that the customers will stay wth you).

Once defined, the rate plan creation logics runs without any user interference. All clients and the system owner will be notified about the rate changes after each new run.

Analytics

Are you tired of waiting minutes and dozens of minutes for the system to produce a «last 24 hours ASR and ACD report» for you? Now it takes only a few seconds for such a report to show up: we calculate the most wanted statistical layouts of the traffic immediately after CDRs arrive in the database and store them in OLAP cubes. When you request a certain statistical report (ASR, ACD, Margin, NER, etc…), we don’t have to calculate it – it is already in the database, we just need to present it to you. That is why it is so fast!

Report builder

This tool combines two very important applications:

1. It gives you the ability to build custom reports based on any CDR field with the option to compare quality and quantity characteristics of a group of CDRs for two given time intervals (e.g.: compare ASR for today with ASR for the same day one week ago)

2. Running in the background according to a schedule, it can be used as an automatic traffic monitoring and alerting mechanism

CDR export and CDR reconciliation tools

If you come across a dispute with your traffic exchange partner, these two tools are of the most value here: you can either export CDRs from the database to present them to your partner or upload your partner's CDRs and the tool will tell you exactly what discrepancy causes the dispute.

Invoices

No business is done without collecting payments from your customers. Now you can easily automate this process: invoices are not only generated automatically, but are sent with the ability to control the delivery.

Financial reports

You financial officer would love these reports.

Profit & Loss statement, Cash flow statement, Accounts statement. The three basic accounting reports give you the full picture of the financial side of your business.

Routing

The routing capability of inVoice is something that we are really proud of. Imagine that you have several switches on your network, all of them from different vendors (this is because your network was not built in one day, but grew little by little over time); and now you can control all your swiches from one central place – Alaris Labs inVoice routing interface.

In a word, the system is able to control routing decisions on any reasonable number of underlying VoIP and TDM switches.

We managed to alloy several key attributes in one single product:

1. Minimum response time to constantly changing traffic conditions. The routing rules are adjusted in real-time manner.

2. Incredible throughput capacity of the routing interface. A single routing node can handle up to 300 calls per second. Need more? Just add more nodes!

3. Ability to control routing on almost any switching equipment. We take advantage of SIP and SS7 redirect methods, which are supported by 99% of switching equipment in the world.

Key features:

1. Automated positive margin control. Let mathematical algorithms do the business for you.

2. Generic rules for all clients (no need to create new rules for new clients)

3. Fully self-sufficient. No need for human interaction (if properly configured once)

4. Ability to maintain SLAs (also automatically)

5. Easily combine dynamic and static routing schemes.


Alaris Labs contact information


Alaris Labs welcomes you to visit our web-site, ask questions about our product or about any VoIP related issue.
We will be happy to share our experience, no matter whether you will become our valued customer or not.

For enquires from any country except North America

Address: Rodionova str. 197/2, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 603126

Tel.: +1.888.682.5416 (Toll Free for USA & Canada)

Tel.: +7.831.2143021

Email: sales@alarislabs.com

URL: http://www.alarislabs.com


For enquires from North America

Please contact our appointed partner Vera Networks, LLC


Created by: taroli, Last modification: Wed 01 of Aug, 2012 (03:01 UTC) by admin
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