Every Second Counts...

By Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.

In a world where time is money, isn’t it important that we make every second count? Time waits for no man but the way it is measured is determined by man and machine. So, when does time start and when is a second a second?

Conscience: “So my friend Mr Revenue Assurance Manager, is your billing accurate?”

RA Manager: “Yes. I think so. We have limited complaints and revenue is flowing.”

Conscience: “So, you’re happy that everything adds up?”

RA Manager: “Yes, we check the billing and events to make sure each event is charged correctly.”

Conscience: “How?”

RA Manager: “Well, it’s really simple. We make sure your event is compiled into three key features. Duration, multiplied by the rate on which the event was consumed and the end bill. That’s billing accuracy.”

Conscience: “So…….as long as the event is added up this way all is good yeah?”

RA Manager: “That’s right.”

Conscience: “So…….. If duration of event x rate = Bill, then all is good? Is this what you report?”

RA Manager: “Yep, it’s about event.”

Conscience: “But Mr RA Manager, how can you be sure the billing is correct?”

RA manager: “Because we not only test this calculation ourselves, but we get our independent supplier to validate this too. Our RA systems also watch to see if this number changes so we have monitors to watch the revenue figures. These are watch-masters of our revenue. If it drops below a point we know, if it goes above a certain point… we know.! I can sleep at night knowing these provisions are in place.”

Conscience: “So…. Mr RA Manager, rate is rate yes?”

RA Manager: “Yes.”

Conscience: “Bill is bill yes?”

RA Manager: “Yes.”

Conscience: “What about time and duration? This is a meter running yes?”

RA Manager: “Yes.”

Conscience: “So who’s calibrated the meter?”

RA Manager: “How do you mean?”

Conscience: “Is the meter accurate, not been tampered with - who confirms a second is a second, a byte a byte?”

RA Manager: “But the system must be right….”

Conscience: “Are you sure, really? If timing is out then start times will be out? How will this affect your on peak off peak boundaries?”

RA Manger: “Not thought about that really. Could it be out?”

Conscience: “What do you think? ‘Could it be’ is the question. If you don’t do a calibrated test then how do you know?”

RA Manager: “So a switch feed is important? When a record is created and therefore it’s duration at such an early stage?”

Conscience: “Yes, otherwise you are taking a time stamp and duration that may be wrong therefore the event is rated incorrectly and billed incorrectly.”

RA Manager: “Would the subscriber know?

Conscience: “Probably not but you would. Don’t you have a duty of care to validate duration vs rate vs bill and question the integrity of the numbers?”

RA Manager: “Maybe. but I thought my job was getting rating and billing right. Anything to do with metering is out of my hands?”

Conscience: “Why?”

RA Manager: “Because it’s the CTO’s job to make sure infrastructure is correct. We control the rate and billing. Timing and metering is a deep systemic issue of the system itself, I mean, what can I do about it?”

Conscience: “Yeah.. but isn’t it questioning your revenue integrity?”

RA Manager: “Why, I’m getting my bit right...”

Conscience: “Yes but your integrity of the revenue you are reporting is questionable?”

RA Manager: “Hold on a minute. It isn’t about whether the clock is right. It’s about who makes the rules about when the clock starts.”

Conscience: “As a subscriber we expect to pay when we receive service? So, when I hear my call connect and I say hi and my mum answers then my clock should start ticking? When I press return on a Google search I’m paying for data right?”

RA Manager: “I suppose so but it it’s more complicated than this.”

Conscience: “Why?”

RA Manager: “The rules around when the billing actually starts is hidden and not always readily available.”

Conscience: “Oh…so you just let timing and metering do its thing and don’t question it. What if it is wrong, won’t this affect the billing?”

RA Manager: “It’s not wrong, but yes if it was then I suppose it would change the way billing was calculated.”

Conscience: “So if an event starts at off peak but it was really at on peak then this would cause and issue?”

RA Manager: “Yes, the wrong rate would be applied.”

Conscience: “And metering was out and an event lasted 3:32:800ms but really it was 3:33:100ms then the duration would be incorrect. How does this effect rounding and billing?

RA Manager: “Well, in principle the network may be losing out on a full second.”

Conscience: “For every event, right? Metering effects every event so the problem is systemic?”

RA Manager: “Yes you’re right.”

Conscience: “So who calibrates the metering and timing?”

RA Manager: “Hhmmmm….”

Conscience: “So my friend, Mr Revenue Assurance Manager, I ask you again, is your billing accurate?”

Mandy Blackburn,
Operations Director,
Roscom

Roscom measures with an accuracy of +/- 100 milliseconds for voice and +/- 1 byte for data. Calibrated precision engineering designed for Revenue Integrity.

www.roscom.co.uk