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Oracle® Communications Billing and Revenue Management Setting Up Pricing and Rating
Release 7.5

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14 Real-Time Rating Based on Date and Time

This chapter shows how to use Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) to set up rates based on date and time.

Before you read this chapter you should be familiar with rating and price lists. See "About Creating a Price List".

About Rating Based on Date and Time

As explained in "About Creating a Price List", BRM rates billable events by capturing data about the event, for example, the date and time that the event occurred. Since BRM is aware of the date and time of the event, the rating opcodes can use the date and time to determine how to rate the event.

Ways to Specify When Rates Are Valid

You can specify when rates are valid in the following ways:

When you create rates based on date and time, you can specify how to recognize the time that the event occurred, for example, at the start of the event, the end, or the entire duration.

You specify a time-of-day mode to indicate when a rate should be applied either relative to an event's start time, its end time, or the difference between the two. This is especially useful when an event overlaps a time boundary where a rate changes.

For example, 12 a.m. Monday might be the boundary between a special weekend fee and a regular weekday fee:

  • To apply the special weekend fee to the entire event, specify Start time.

  • To apply the regular weekday fee to the entire event, specify End time.

  • To apply the weekend fee to the portion of the event before midnight and the weekday fee after midnight, specify Timed.

    Note:

    Midnight is shown as 00.00.00.

Using Rate Tiers to Set Up Rating Based on Date and Time

You use rate tiers to set up valid dates and times for rates. Figure 14-1 shows a rate tier that includes two different rates:

Figure 14-1 Rate Plan with Two Different Rates

Description of Figure 14-1 follows
Description of "Figure 14-1 Rate Plan with Two Different Rates"

You can include multiple rate tiers in a rate plan. Figure 14-2 shows a rate plan with three rate tiers, each valid for a different set of dates:

Figure 14-2 Rate Plan with Three Rates Based on Dates

Description of Figure 14-2 follows
Description of "Figure 14-2 Rate Plan with Three Rates Based on Dates"

Specifying Which Rate Tiers Are Applied First

As you create rate tiers, they appear on a list. BRM applies rates from the top of the list down. You can change the order in which rate tiers are applied by changing their places in the list shown in Figure 14-3.

Figure 14-3 Rates Ordering Buttons

Description of Figure 14-3 follows
Description of "Figure 14-3 Rates Ordering Buttons"

For example, at the top of the rate tier list you could insert a promotional rate tier valid only until the end of May, 20031. BRM applies that rate only until May 31, 2003. After that, the promotional rate tier is no longer valid, and BRM no longer applies it.

Specifying How Long Rate Tiers Are Valid

You specify how long a rate tier is valid by specifying a duration. You can specify that a rate tier is always valid or is valid for either an absolute or a relative date range. Figure 14-4 shows three rates with validity specified by date.

Figure 14-4 Rate Validity by Date

Description of Figure 14-4 follows
Description of "Figure 14-4 Rate Validity by Date"

For example, your basic IP Fax rate tier should not change and always applies. You could specify an absolute date range of 12/1/01 through 12/31/01 for a promotional holiday rate tier. You could also specify a relative date range of 30 days from purchase until 60 days from purchase to give your customers special rates during the second month.

Specifying When Rate Tiers Are Valid

You specify when a rate tier is valid by selecting ranges of dates, day(s) of the week, and time(s) of day. For example:

  • For each rate tier, you specify a valid date range. For example, you can specify that a rate tier is valid for the entire year 2001.

  • For each date range, you specify one or more valid day-of-the-week ranges. For example, you can specify that a rate tier is valid Monday through Friday.

  • For each day-of-the-week range, you specify one or more valid time-of-day ranges. For example, you can specify that a rate tier is valid between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Using Day, Date, and Time Ranges Together

Date ranges consist of a start date and an end date between which a rate tier is valid. For example, a promotional rate tier for usage fees is valid only for the month of January.

Day ranges consist of a list of days during which a rate is valid. For example, a rate tier for off-peak IP usage fees is valid only on weekends.

Time of day ranges consist of a start time and an end time between which a rate tier is valid. For example, an after-hours rate tier for IP usage fees is valid only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Within each date range, you can use multiple day ranges and within each day range you can use multiple time-of-day ranges.

The following examples show how you can use date, day, and time-of-day ranges together. Figure 14-5 shows some time ranges that specify free IP usage for the first month after an account is created. Figure 14-6 shows some time ranges that specify IP usage rates effective after the first month.

Figure 14-5 Free IP Usage for First Month

Description of Figure 14-5 follows
Description of "Figure 14-5 Free IP Usage for First Month"

Figure 14-6 Time Range Based IP Usage Rates after First Month

Description of Figure 14-6 follows
Description of "Figure 14-6 Time Range Based IP Usage Rates after First Month"

Using the Correct Time Zone

Because BRM uses the time and date of an event to determine how to rate the event, it is important to use the correct time zone during rating. You specify whether real-time rating should use the event time zone or the server time zone to rate the event. By using time zone data, BRM can correctly calculate event start and end times before rating occurs.

Specifying a Time Zone

When you create a product with Pricing Center, you specify whether the event or server time zone should be used for rating. By default, Pricing Center uses the event time zone.

  • The event time zone is the time zone where the application or device generating the event is located. For example, if a customer logs on to a terminal server in California, the time zone of the log on event is Pacific Standard Time.

  • The server time zone is the time zone where the BRM server performing rating is located. For example, if a user in California logs on to a terminal server in California, but the BRM server rating this event is in New York, the server time zone is Eastern Standard Time.

For a list of time zones supported by BRM, see the BRM_Home/sys/cm/timezones.txt file.

Setting the Server Time Zone

You specify the server time zone by entering it in the rating_timezone entry of the CM configuration file (pin.conf). You must enter the time zone in standard TimeZone ID format.

Important:

BRM stores server time zones in an internal time_zones table. The time zone value you specify in the rating_timezone entry must be listed in this table. If it is not, the Connection Manager (CM) will encounter errors. For a list of time zones supported by BRM, see the BRM_Home/sys/cm/timezones.txt file.

You can get a list of TimeZone IDs by downloading the latest public domain time zone database (commonly known as ”zoneinfo”) from ftp:elsie.nci.nih.gov/pub. (Because there is no ISO or other international standard for time zone names, this database is the default standard.) The database is contained in a tar file with a name similar to tzdata2002c.tar.gz.

After you download and extract the contents of the tar file, open the zone.tab file. TimeZone IDs are displayed in the third column.

This is an example of a rating_timezone entry with a valid TimeZone ID:

- fm_rate     rating_timezone     Europe/Andorra

The default value is America/Los_Angeles.

Important:

To add multiple custom time zones to the file, enter each time zone entry on a separate line.

Adding a Time Zone to BRM

To rate events based on a time zone not supported by BRM, you must update the internal time_zones table with the new time zone entry, and configure the Connection Manager (CM) pin.conf file to read the new value.

To add a server time zone to BRM, do the following:

  1. Open the BRM_Home/sys/cm/timezones.txt file. This file lists all time zones in the database time_zones table. The file is regenerated each time the CM is started.

  2. If a time zone that you need is missing, open the BRM_Home/sys/cm/sample_timezone.txt file.

  3. Add the new time zone entry as described in the sample_timezone.txt file.

    Important:

    Each time zone entry contains 13 mandatory parameters. The tzone_name parameter must be unique (not in the time_zones table.)

    Note:

    To add multiple custom time zones to the file, enter each time zone entry on a separate line.
  4. Save and close the sample_timezone.txt file.

  5. Add the following entry to the Connection Manager (CM) pin.conf file:

    -fm_rate timezone_file sample_timezone.txt
    
  6. Save and close the file.

  7. Stop and restart the CM.

For information on setting the server time zone, see "Setting the Server Time Zone".

Configuring Applications to Generate Time Zone Data

When a BRM client application or service integration client (such as RADIUS Manager and Universal Event Loader) generates an event, that event includes time zone data. You must configure event-generating applications to generate the correct time zone data. This means creating an entry in a pin.conf or properties file. See the configuration section of your client application or the service integration component documentation for details.

Using Event Start Time to Determine the Valid Product

By default, in real-time rating an event's end time is used to determine a product's validity.

You can specify that the event start time should be used for checking the product's validity by adding an entry to the Connection Manager (CM) configuration file.

To use the event start time to determine the valid product:

  1. Open the CM pin.conf file in BRM_Home/sys/cm.

  2. Add the use_prods_based_on_start_t entry:

    - fm_rate   use_prods_based_on_start_t /event 
    

    You can use /event to use the start time for all events, or a subclass of /event to specify just events of a given type.

  3. Stop and restart the CM.