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Carrier Access Billing (CABS)

Citynet offers a custom Carrier Access Billing System (CABS) to provide efficient billing services for telecommunications companies.

Although designed to closely integrate with the various other telecommunications billing and management systems designed by the Citynet software development team, the system can be utilized with our full billing solution or as a stand alone billing solution.

With this software package, Citynet can now provide CABS billing services for other companies as a highly cost effective hosted solution.

System Details

Data Collection & Utilization
Citynet’s CABS system is capable of utilizing data from a variety of sources. The system’s strength lies in its ability to parse diverse records to obtain the needed billing information necessary to generate end customer CABS bills.

The system can import records obtained from phone switches, ILEC provided 11-01 records (including via tape), or any other format provided by switches, carriers, or any other source. Citynet’s billable detail comes from three distinct sources.

The first source is two separate phone switches that store their call detail in a SQL Server database. The information is directly copied from the switch’s database to the billing database and the billable detail parsed from these records. The second source is another phone switch that automatically transmits text files in a comma delimited format to a server. The software parses these text files, imports them into the database, then pulls the needed detail from the records. The final source is from an asterisk based VOIP platform in a MySQL database.

Another feature of the data collection abilities within the software is the functionality to utilize ILEC supplied call detail records from the 11-01 format as a reference for determining carrier identification codes (CIC). While these records can be used as a data source if desired, they can also be used to compare to the records obtained from other sources, such as directly from the switch. Often switch records do not contain the originating carrier identification code, so by matching the calls to the carrier provided details, you can properly bill the calls to the appropriate entity. The software has been setup to allow import of 11-01 records provided by carriers via FTP in a text format and by tape cartridge.

Online Interface
The Citynet CABS billing system features an online interface that allows full control over billing rules, settings, and rates. The interface, which can be used as an integrated part of the full Citynet back-office suite or a stand alone system, provides quick access to all of the billing entities and allows you to see the current settings and make any changes necessary. The various settings and rate possibilities are explained in greater detail below.

Billing Entities
Billing rules, settings, and rate overrides can be specified on an entity by entity basis (and further by call type). A billing entity is defined within the system as the combination of unique Carrier Identification Code (CIC) or Operating Company Number (OCN) and the United States state where the service occurred (based on the called party location for terminating calls or the calling party location for originating calls). Billing entities do not need to be established in advance. When a billing entity is encountered in the data and has not already been established, the needed information (company name, contact info, billing address, etc.) from the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) for OCN based entities or from NANPA for CIC based entities.

State Default Rates
Through the online interface of the system, default rates for each call time can be established for each state where services are billed. Rates utilize the United States state based on the calling party number’s location for originating calls and the called party number’s location for terminating calls. Rates can be established based on the call types, and can be applied to any number of call types within the state. Each call type can have any number of default rates. Call types do not require any default rates, and would then only bill if entity specific override rates are set.

Entity Specific Override Rates

By default, the state rates will apply to every billing entity within the system for traffic occurring in within the state. Override rates can be applied to any billing entity. Override rates are setup in the same manner and with all the same properties as state default rates, but only apply to that specific entity. For an entity, if any rates have been established for a particular call type, it will use only those rates for that call type (for example, even if there are 3 default rates setup, if a carrier is setup with 1 override rate, it will apply only the 1 override rate for that call type). If a call type does not have any override rates established, it will use the default rates, regardless of any other override rates established on any of the other call types. The online interface shows a quick view of the rates for each entity and whether each call type is set to use the default rates or entity specific override rates.

Forward by Call Type
The Forward by Call Type billing rule can be established on any billing entity. This property allows you to specify, on a call type basis, if the call records should be forwarded to another billing entity. These forwards are performed prior to any rating or summarization by the system, but after all call detail records are collected and compared to ILEC provided 11-01 records (if applicable). This feature is useful when CABS customers request that all detail from a variety of entities all be billed together under the same entity. The forward is established by providing either an OCN or CIC to forward all detail. The call detail would be rated according to the rates and properties established on the forwarded account.

Billing Accounts by Call Type

Separate from the billing entities are the billing accounts. Billing accounts are the actual accounts that invoices are generated against. By default, each billing entity corresponds to one billing account. If utilizing the Citynet billing platform, these billing accounts would be the accounts within the billing system. If utilizing a different billing platform, you would be able to specify the account number from the billing platform. The system allows specification on an individual call type basis as to which billing account should receive charges. Call detail would be rated and summarized based on the rates and rules established on the billing entity and then the charges applied to the billing account. Any number of billing entities can forward to the same billing account. On the billing account, the charges would be listed separately and appear with the original CIC/OCN on the invoice.

Suppression by Call Type

Within a billing entity, call type suppression can be established. If, do to tariff or other contractual reasons, certain call types for an entity are not to be billed, a suppression can be set on the needed call types. Call detail will still be collected and summarized within the system, but no charges will be applied to the billing account for these call types.

Hold by Call Type

Similar to the suppression by call type, there may be times when call detail should not be sent to the billing account, but may be needed in the future. A hold can be established for any call type that will cause the call detail to be collected and summarized, but held from being billed to the account. When the hold is removed, the charges will be sent to the billing account with the next run. If the charges that have been held need to be suppressed (deleted), simply remove the hold and apply a suppression and the detail will be permanently suppressed.

Dialup / ISP Billing
The system is capable of determining dialup / ISP traffic and billing at rates specific to this call type. By default, accounts do not bill dialup / ISP rates. This property must be set on the account for the detail to be separated. A list of dialup numbers must be provided in the system. The calling party number is compared to the provided list of dialup numbers to determine if the call is ISP traffic.

Reciprocal Compensation Billing

The system has the ability to rate and bill for reciprocal compensation for entities as needed. By default, reciprocal compensation is not billed, the property must be set in order for call detail to be separated. If this property is not set, these calls will be billed as intrastate/intralata calls. If the property is set, a rate center will be determined based on the called and calling party number NPA/NXX. The rate center lists are pre-established and mimic the local calling areas of Verizon. If the call is determined to be a local call according to rate center determination, it will be billed as a reciprocal compensation call.

MTA Rates Billing
For wireless carriers, billing can be performed based on Metropolitan Trading Areas (MTA). When an entity is established, if it is a wireless company, it will automatically set the bill MTA property on the entity, otherwise it will default the entity to not bill MTA call types. Rates can be established either on a state default level or on an entity override level.

Multiple Call Types
As discussed in several of the above sections, the system bases many of its rates and settings on call types. The system supports the following call types:

Rating Categories

Rates can be established on a state default level or an entity specific override. Each rate can be established with several different properties. The rate name can be set and will control what is displayed on the bill. The unit price can be established as a dollar value for each unit of measurement for the rate. The unit of measurement can be set on an individual rate basis. The units are: messages, minutes of use, total miles, and H to R / T to H mileage.

Minimum Billing Suppression

As CABS bills tend to be lengthy and costly to print, a minimum bill amount can be established for billing entities. The system currently will not bill any account if the billing amount would be less than $100. These charges would be held and at such time the sum of the charges exceeds $100, the charges would be passed to the billing platform.

Billing Platform Integration
The CABS billing system was developed to work with Citynet’s suite of telecom billing and management systems. The CABS system can also be operated as a stand alone system to work with any other billing platform. Once call detail is acquired, summarized, and rated, charges are applied to billing accounts. If utilizing the Citynet billing platform, these charges are automatically added to the billing account. If utilizing another billing platform, the charges can be exported into an ASCII text file and then imported into the billing system.

Invoice Generation / Presentation

When utilizing the Citynet billing platform, invoices will be automatically generated to the end CABS customer. The invoices are created in a standard and highly portable file format (Adobe Acrobat PDF format). The invoice layout uses the standard CABS billing format used by most CABS billing systems. The generated PDF invoices can be printed and mailed, electronically transferred to the customers via FTP, emailed to customers, or retrieved through the Citynet online customer account manager.

11-01 File Generation
If CABS customers dispute invoices, the system can generate a text file containing the 11-01 records to justify the charges on the account. By quickly providing the exact detail and justification for billing, customer disputes can be quickly resolved and charges collected.       

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