The following describes Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper’s charging functionality:
Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper makes it possible to tailor the type of charging associated with each application service. An application can use one or more of the following alternatives:
CDRs are used for charging based either on time used or on access to certain per-use services. Charging based on time used is typically employed for calls. Per-use might be employed, for example, to charge for a locating a terminal.
CDR data can be stored in Gatekeeper's internal charging database or retrieved in real-time by billing and post processing systems through a billing gateway (this requires integration with the billing gateway. For more information, see Billing System Integration).
Charging data is generated every time an application uses a communication service. The charging data is recorded by the communication service during the period the application interacts with the network. When the interaction is closed, the communication service stores the charging data as a CDR in the Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper's database. (If Gatekeeper is integrated with a billing gateway, the charging data is sent directly to the billing gateway.)
Content or value based charging makes it is possible to charge an end-user based on the variable value of a used service rather than on time used or flat rates. This can be used, for example, when downloading music video clips or in m-commerce applications. Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper supports both prepaid and postpaid end-user accounts.
Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper can be integrated with external billing systems, either those that receive charging data directly or those that automatically retrieve information from Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper’s database. CDRs can be customized to fit the requirements of these systems, both in terms of format and behavior. Out of the box, Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper has support for integration with BRM, but can be used with any system that supports Diameter, both offline (Rf), using the CDR to Diameter functionality, and online (Ro), using either the credit control interceptors for in-traffic credit checks or the Payment communication service for direct billing.
Real-time settlement of prepaid accounts using CDR-based charging requires integration through a billing gateway. This method can also be used to support postpaid services.
When integrating through a billing gateway, the billing gateway retrieves the CDRs in real-time through an external JMS-based charging listener. Rating, rating management, billing information storage, and prepaid accounts settlement are handled by the billing gateway. The flow is shown above in Figure 8-1.
If an applications uses postpaid accounts, it is possible to integrate billing by retrieving CDRs that have been stored in the Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper database.
When integrating using this method, a CDR batch retrieval tool retrieves the CDRs from the database and stores them in a file format. The CDR file is processed by a rating system that transforms it into billing information and then stores it in a post-paid accounts database. The flow is shown above in Figure 8-2.
Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper has specific support for using the Diameter protocol for online (Ro) and offline (Rf) charging. The Parlay X 3.0 Payment communications services can be used for online charging using Diameter. Offline charging can be integrated using the CDR to Diameter module, which converts CDRs generated by Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper into the appropriate format for Diameter charging requests and then sends them on to an Offline Diameter Server.