Key Considerations for Subscription Based IVR Services

What is Subscription Services

Subscription Service is a model where user pay a subscription price to have access to service. Subscription model can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Specific amount for each modality can be defined. Subscribed user gets certain benefits like low rate for browsing or free browsing, whereas non subscriber has to pay premium price to enjoy the service.

Example Charging Models for Subscription Service

Subscription Charging can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Different amount for different modality are configured. For example, user can subscribe News service for BDT 20 for a month, BDT 10 for bi-weekly, BDT 5 for weekly and BDT 1 for daily.

Different Rates for Registered and Unregistered Users

Registered User

Let’s assume there is a News service whose subscription fee is BDT 5 for 7 days and browsing fee is BDT 0.20 per minute.

Unregistered User

Non subscriber can also enjoy the service but browsing charge for them is BDT 2 per minute. If any user listen News service every day in multiple times, it is more economical for him to subscribe the service

Free Minutes for Registered Users

Service can be designed where registered user can enjoy certain amount browsing time for free. Like the example above, after subscribing news service for BDT 5, user may get 50 minutes free browsing in a week. Once free minutes are over, user will be charged BDT 0.20 per minute.

Charging Nodes

Subscription charging usually happen from operators IN (Intelligent Network) or MSC, Call Handler and from renew application.

Roles in charging

After subscription, it is important to define how subscriber will be charged for browsing. Service is designed based on different requirements for example some services can offer free minutes for the subscriber, some services allow both subscriber and non-subscriber can browse the content, some services  allow only subscriber can browse the content etc.  Charging can be done either from operator’s IN (MSC charging) or from Charging Gateway (CGW) or from IN and CGW together. Nature of MSC charging is it is always fixed for every minute. For example if it is set as 0 (zero) it will be always 0. On the other hand CGW has the capability to do the differential charging. It can charge different amounts in different minutes. For different amount different rate ID is created and it is configured in Call handler.  Role of Renew application is to renew the subscriber on due date. For example if any user subscribe any service for 7 days, then on 8th day he will be renewed if he has sufficient balance and if he doesn’t deregister the service during subscription period. After renewed, renew application sends confirmation SMS to user that they are renewed.

How Charging Nodes Affects Subscription Services

Different charging nodes are used to meet different requirement

When to use only MSC for charging

Usually if service is offering same amount of charging in every minute, charging can be done from MSC only. Also if service offers only registered user can browse the content, then browsing charge can be done from MSC only. Charging can be done from CGW as well, in that case MSC charging will be 0.

When to use only CGW for charging

Service can designed where registered user gets some benefits which non registered user doesn’t get like some free minutes for browsing. Free minutes can be varied based on subscription modality. For example for daily subscription, subscriber may get 10 minutes free every day, for weekly subscription, subscriber may get 50 minutes free for browsing in a week etc. For this type of requirement, charging gateway need to be used. It can provisioned free minutes in database and after free minutes is over, it sends charging request to the operator.

If service is designed where different category of the service should be charged in different amounts, then charging should be done from CGW. For example, a service has 3 categories, News, Music and Recipe. Business requirement is BDT 0.30, BDT 0.50 and BDT 0.20 should be charged as browsing for news, music and recipe respectively. CGW can cater this type of requirement. It sends three types of charging request for 3 categories.
Service can also be designed where a single call can be charged at multiple rates. For example, the user can be charged at BDT 5 for the first minute. From second minute onwards user can be charged at BDT 2 per minute.  CGW can set this type of slab based charging in the database.

When to use both MSC and CGW for charging

If service has option where both registered and non-registered user can browse the content with different amount of charging then both MSC and CGW can be used for charging.  For example, browsing charge for any service for registered user is BDT 1/ min but for non-registered user, browsing charge is BDT 2/min. Which means at least BDT 1 will be charged to both type of user. This amount can be configured in MSC and extra BDT 1 for non-registered user need to be charged from CGW.

Special type of charging

Service can be designed where user has to refill their balance once free minutes are over because there is no browsing charge. For example, by BDT 2 daily, user can subscribe the service and can listen 5 minutes free contents. Call will be disconnected after 5 minutes but user will remain registered but he doesn’t have balance to use it more.  If user wants to listen more, then he has to buy 5 minutes again for BDT 2.  A procedure checks first whether he has available balance or not when user calls after free minutes. If he doesn’t have balance, he gets an option to buy 5 minutes for BDT 2. Once he buys, another procedure refills his balance and set available balance for 5 minutes.

What to Configure Where?

For MSC charging, operator configured the amount at their end. For subscription charging and differential charging, it is defined in different tables of charging gateway and through this process Rate ID is created and it is configured in Call handler.

Let’s take an example of above News service. Browsing fee for registered user is BDT 0.20 per minute and for unregistered user is BDT 2 per minute. Both charging can be configured in call handler through charging gateway or it can be done combination of MSC and charging gateway.  User will be charged minimum BDT 0.20 per minute (either registered or unregistered), so this amount can be configured in MSC. Extra BDT 1.80 for unregistered user has to be configured in charging gateway. So rate ID for BDT 1.80 need to be defined in call handler.

For more details about charging configuration see Integrating Services with Subscription Renewal document.

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