Every service offered to a telecom subscriber generally has a charging modality. Subscribers are required to be charged for the services enjoyed.
On a very high level, the scope of charging for services is constrained by the commonalities among the Service Node Capabilities and Charging System Components Capabilities. Subscriber is charged for the telecom service(s) used (e.g. Voice/Video Call, SMS, Data etc.) and on top of that service specific or content specific charges can be applied as well.
Services are offered for all users. User Group can ‘Registered’ to any Subscription-based Service or ‘Unregistered’. Based on this type, Service Charging can be different. User is charged for a service based on its Price Plan – how much to charge from which node for which type of subscribers based on service consumed/offered.
The most common service charging models are
Let us look at different service charging models through some examples.
User will dial a short no e.g. 12345 and listen to music.
Service is available for both registered and unregistered subscribers. Following subscription packs are available:
For Unregistered subscribers the charges are BDT 1/minute
User will SMS a short code e.g. 2345 and subscribe to Daily News Update. For example, User will send START NEWS to 2345 and will subscribe to the service. In return, every day he will get news updates over SMS.
News will send to subscribed user daily and every MT SMS is charged BDT 2.
Users subscribe to the WAP portal and get their choice of content.
Pay-As-You-Go IVR News Service
Users dial a short code e.g. 2245 and listen to News Service
Pay-As-You-Go SMS Push-Pull Cricket Update
Users SMS to a short code e.g. 1234 and get Cricket Update
Pay as you go WAP Portal
Users download the content from the portal and pay for every download.
Now let us look at – how Registered User’s subscription is managed and charging is done. Subscription Charging is applied for regular Subscription Based Services. Users can subscribe for a Service for a specific modality. Here Subscription Based Modality means users can subscribe for a Service monthly/fortnightly/weekly/daily and be charged accordingly. Different modalities have different rates.
Subscriber’s service renewal, termination of that service, change to another service is possible based on service charge and service modalities/price plans.
Subscriptions can be free for a certain configurable period. Registered User can use the Service for an offered free period and after that period, the User is charged as per the subscribed service charging modality.
Example: Users subscribe to Career Portal and get IVR call/SMS regarding Career Advice up to 3 days.
There are different Subscription Statuses, e.g. User is at Registered, De-registered, In Grace Period, Renew Failed, Downgraded (Switch to lower fee cycle due to failure to charge the amount in the current subscription) status.
A Registered User is renewed to the service after a specific time (depending on which Service Modality the User has subscribed to).
Example: Subscribed User to Voice Chat Service for BDT 15 Monthly and BDT 5 Weekly
When a Subscriber is registered to any service modality (e.g. monthly) but subscriber account has inadequate balance for monthly subscription, it will automatically shift to weekly subscription (next available modality).
Voice Portal Service has Monthly and Weekly Subscription Plan
When User does not have sufficient balance i.e. less than BDT 15 during renewal, the User is attempted for Weekly modality and upon successful charging of BDT 5, user is renewed for weekly subscription.
To keep subscriber in service, there is an option for Grace Period. If any service modality has Grace Period option for any specific modality (e.g. monthly) and User does not have enough balance while renewing the subscription, User can use the service for the specified Grace Period. During the Grace Period, if user has balance again, s/he will be charged for the amount starting from the renewal due date.
News Service has Weekly Subscription for BDT 3. Weekly Subscription has 5 days Grace Period. During renewal for weekly fees, if User does not have sufficient balance, user can listen to News up to 5 days.
During these 5 days, User’s account is checked whether it has sufficient balance or not and upon having sufficient balance, user is charged and renewed.
Subscription Service has a Retry Period Option where De-Registered Subscribers (de-registered due to insufficient balance) can be registered back to the service. This is not available for the Users who de-register by themselves. These RenewalFailed Users are attempted for charging if the Retry Period Option is ON. If charging is successful within this RetryPeriod, this User is updated as Registered. If charging fails , this user is De-registered from RenewalFailed status.
News Service has Retry Period for 2 days. After Grace Period, if this User still does not have sufficient balance, User is moved to Renewal Failed Status. In this status, User cannot enjoy the service anymore. However, the user is retried for 2 days for charging. Within this time, User is again registered to the service if s/he has balance; otherwise, s/he is de-registered from the service.
When charging is not possible for a Registered User after applying downgraded/grace period, the User is de-registered from the service. A User can also de-register by themselves. Then, this user is treated as Unregistered User for the service and can use the service as Unregistered User (if the option is available in the service) or again register to the Service.
IVR Services can be charged from MSC (for every minutes of usage) and/or Charging Gateway (Session Based e.g. Pay-Per-Use and Event Based i.e. registration, subscription renewal etc). Let us have a look how Service Price Plans translate to MSC and Charging Gateway charging configuration.
A Voice Portal Service to be offered at the following price plan:
To browse the Service, Charging Process for any IVR Service can be like this.
For a Registered User, MSC will charge the user BDT 1/minute. For Unregistered users, Charging Gateway will charge another BDT 1/minute along with MSC charging.
Renew Application will charge BDT 5 per week for weekly subscribed Users and BDT 15 per month for monthly subscribed Users.
If Renew Application cannot charge monthly fees, a User will be allowed to fall back to weekly modality.
If a User does not have sufficient balance, s/he can enjoy the service up to 5 days (Grace Period). A User will be charged by Renew Application during this period whenever s/he has sufficient balance.
A Religious portal where a User can listen to different religious contents. The pricing plans are:
Browsing Charge cannot be implemented at MSC because of the free minutes. MSC Charging is applied to all subscribers as a flat charging. But, in this service we have free minutes and after that free minutes, a consumption User is charged per minutes of use. And, these free minutes can be consumed over multiple calls as well. Charging is configured in Charging Gateway (CGW) only and MSC Charging is set as Zero (0). Charging Gateway will manage the free minutes and charging after the free minutes.
Renew Application picks up this registered User and attempts to charge BDT 2 subscription fee on a daily basis. If a User does not have sufficient balance, s/he can use this service up to 10 days (Grace Period) and during this time, the User will be charged for pending subscription fees whenever balance is available in the account. After 10 days, User is de-registered if user still does not have sufficient balance.
Video Call Service Charging is done in same way as Voice Call.
SMS Service can be of two types:
Users SMS to a short code e.g. 1234 and get Cricket Update. BDT 2 is charged for every request i.e. MO SMS.
Users subscribe to SMS Service e.g. getting breaking news; daily BDT 2 is charged for this service.
There can be two options
SMS is sent to User’s number and User is charged based on MT number. In this case, if multiple breaking news is sent in a day, user will be charged multiple times.
SMS is sent to User’s number and CGW Subscription charging is applied for user. MT SMSs are free here.
Unlike voice call or video call, most multimedia services are charged by data volume usage usually with Kilobyte (KB) as a charging unit. Users get contents from WAP Portal or Web Portal.
Data charging can be made free or it can be regular volume based in which case per KB BDT XXX standard rate will be applied in addition to content price.
User can download any content and be charged as per Pay-Per-Use model. Also s/he can subscribe the service.
This subscription charging is done through CGW. Also, per content download charging is done through CGW.
When a User click on any content, CGW first charges the User and then sends the content to that User.