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Oracle® Communications Billing and Revenue Management Setting Up Pricing and Rating
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17 About Pipeline Rate Plans

This chapter describes how to configure rate plans for rating with Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) Pipeline Manager. It includes information about using Pricing Center to create rate plans and price models.

Before you read this chapter, you should be familiar with these topics:

About Configuring Pipeline Rating

Configuring pipeline rating involves two sets of tasks:

Creating Pipeline Rate Plans and Price Models

Pipeline rate plans define the criteria used to determine how EDRs processed by a pipeline are charged. Rate plans also include price models that define the actual charges. For example, a rate plan can define that the charge for a friends and family call from the US to the UK at 8 p.m. local time is 9 cents per minute or that SMS messages cost 15 cents no matter what time they are sent.

Price model selectors contain multiple price models. Each price model is associated with rules based on EDR values. When a price model selector is used in a rate plan, Pipeline Manager uses the EDR values to choose a price model for an event.

Pipeline rate plans and price models are used by the FCT_MainRating module to apply charges to an EDR in a pipeline.

This section provides an overview of pipeline rate plans and price models. For step-by-step instructions about using Pricing Center, see Pricing Center Help.

Understanding the Difference between Real-Time and Pipeline Rate Plans

There are two separate but related kinds of rate plans in BRM. In the simplest terms, real-time rate plans are used for real-time rating while pipeline rate plans are used for pipeline rating. However, both real-time and pipeline rate plans are necessary for pipeline rating.

During pipeline rating, the name of a real-time rate plan is added to the EDR by the FCT_CustomerRating module. This module determines the correct real-time rate plan based on information in the account associated with the EDR or from information in the EDR itself.

As rating continues, the FCT_MainRating module uses the name of the real-time rate plan in the EDR to select a pipeline rate plan. Each pipeline rate plan has a unique code that corresponds to the name of a real-time rate plan. So if the FCT_CustomerRating module adds the real-time rate plan Corporate to an EDR based on a service-level rate plan ERA, this rate plan name is used to select the pipeline rate plan that includes the code Corporate. A version and configuration of this pipeline rate plan is then used to perform the actual rating.

Note:

In general, you do not need to concern yourself with real-time rate plans when you work on pipeline rating. Real-time rate plans matching pipeline rate plans are automatically created when you use Pricing Center to associate a pipeline rate plan with an event.

About Pipeline Rate Plans

A rate plan has one or more rate plan versions. Each version contains rate plan configurations that determine the price model to use for the event being rated.

The rate plan itself contains data that applies to all versions and configurations, including the rate plan name and code, status, model type, splitting type, calendar, time offset, currency, and tax treatment. For details about using Pricing Center to create rate plans, see Pricing Center Help.

Rate plans are stored in the IFW_RATEPLAN table in the Pipeline Manager database.

See "About Pipeline Rate Plan Versions" and "About Pipeline Rate Plan Configurations" for more information about these components of the rate plan. See "About Pipeline Rate Adjustments" for information about optional rate adjustments.

Data Required to Create Rate Plans

You define the following kinds of data to define rate plans:

Rating EDRs Split across Time Periods

EDRs sometimes overlap time periods. For example, if off-peak rating starts at 7:30 p.m., and a call begins at 7:10 p.m. and ends at 7:35 p.m., the call overlaps the boundary between peak and off-peak rates. When you define a rate plan, you specify a Splitting option that determines how an EDR that overlaps a time period is rated.

You can choose from four splitting options:

  • No splitting, based on start time: Use the start time to rate the entire call.

  • No splitting, based on end time: Use the end time to rate the entire call.

  • Consecutive splitting: Split the call into separately rated parts. When using multiple price steps for different usage levels, continue counting the call duration from the time of the split.

  • Isolated splitting: Split the call into separately rated parts. When using multiple price steps for different usage levels, start over at zero from the time of the split.

The Consecutive and Isolated splitting options are used when you use a combination of price steps and time-based rating. With this combination, you can have a case where an event is split by time zones, resulting in the application of two different Price Models, each with its own Price Model Steps. The Consecutive and Isolated splitting options enable you to determine how to handle the selection of the appropriate Price Model Step.

Here is an example:

Figure 17-1 shows the peak pricing and the off-peak pricing:

Figure 17-1 Peak and Off-Peak Pricing

Description of Figure 17-1 follows
Description of "Figure 17-1 Peak and Off-Peak Pricing"

06:00 - 07:30 is peak

07:30 - 10:00 is off-peak

An EDR is rated that starts at 7:10 and finishes 7:35, for a total of 25 minutes. The event is split into two segments:

07:10 – 07:30 - peak (20 minutes)

07:30 – 07:35 - off-peak (5 minutes)

Figure 17-2 shows how Consecutive splitting works. The gray areas show how the Price Model Steps are applied in both peak and off-peak Price Models. In this case, the first 20 minutes apply to the peak Price Model, so the call is rated at .25 per minute, .10 per minute, and .5 per minute. The last 5 minutes are rated by the off-peak Price Model, which, since it uses Consecutive splitting, takes into account the previous 20 minutes, and rates the final 5 minutes at .02 per minute:

Figure 17-2 Consecutive Splitting

Description of Figure 17-2 follows
Description of "Figure 17-2 Consecutive Splitting"

Figure 17-3 shows how Isolated splitting works. In this case, the first 20 minutes apply to the peak Price Model in the same way as Consecutive splitting. The last 5 minutes are rated by the off-peak model, which, because it uses Isolated splitting, does not consider the previous 20 minutes. Instead, it begins counting at zero, so the remaining 5 minutes are rated by the first step, that is, .08 per minute:

Figure 17-3 Isolated Splitting

Description of Figure 17-3 follows
Description of "Figure 17-3 Isolated Splitting"

Using Consecutive splitting and Isolated splitting gives different results for the final charge for the EDR. In this example:

Table 17-1 shows the results of Consecutive splitting:

Table 17-1 Results of Consecutive Splitting

Usage Calculation Result

Peak (20 minutes)

(5 * 0.25) + (15 * 0.10) + (5 * 0.05)

3.00

Off-peak (5 minutes)

5 * 0.02

0.10

NA

Total

3.10


Table 17-2 shows the results of Isolated splitting:

Table 17-2 Results of Isolated Splitting

Usage Calculation Result

Peak (20 minutes)

(5 * 0.25) + (15 * 0.10) + (5 * 0.05)

3.00

Off-peak (5 minutes)

5 * 0.08

0.40

NA

Total

3.40


About Pipeline Rate Plan Versions

Each rate plan must have at least one rate plan version and can have as many versions as you need. Each rate plan version is valid for a different time period and only one version is valid for each period. The start time of an EDR determines which rate plan version is used for that record.

In addition to the validity period, you specify a zone model when you define a rate plan version. The zone model determines how calls to and from different regions are classified for rating. Each rate plan version can use different zone models.

Rate plan versions are stored in the IFW_RATEPLAN_VER table in the Pipeline Manager database.

About Basic and Delta Rate Plan Versions

Rate plan versions can be either basic or delta versions.

  • A basic version can be used as the basis of other versions. You must specify all required attributes when you create a basic rate plan version.

  • A delta version inherits attributes from a basic rate plan version that you specify when you create the delta version. In the delta version, you enter only the attributes that you want to change. For example, you might change only the Version, Valid From, and Zone Model fields.

About Pipeline Rate Plan Configurations

The rate plan configuration determines which price model or price model selector is used to charge a given EDR. When you define a rate plan configuration, you specify a combination of criteria that an EDR must match to be rated by a particular price model.

Each configuration maps a combination of service code, service class, and impact category to a combination of time model and time period. The configuration then maps the time model/time period combination to a price model or price model selector.

You can create any number of configurations for a rate plan version. The configurations in a given rate plan version must cumulatively cover all possible combinations of service code, service class, impact category, time model, and time period.

When you associate a price model with a rate plan configuration, you can optionally specify an alternative price model that is used in addition to the main price model. You can compare the charges that result from the two models. For example, you may want to better understand the financial impact of a change to a different price model before committing to the change.

In addition, you can choose to replace or modify the calculated charge by a value that you enter. See "Using Passthrough Prices".

Rate plan configurations are stored in the IFW_RATEPLAN_CNF table in the Pipeline Manager database.

Using Passthrough Prices

When you define a rate plan configuration, you can choose to ignore the calculated price and use a price that is passed in by the CDR instead. For example, you can ignore the calculated charge and use a passed-in charge if you receive external wholesale charges and want to use them for retail rating.

You can also modify or replace the passed-in price by specifying an add-on type and entering a charge. There are three add-on types:

  • Percentage increases the passed-in price by a percentage that you enter.

  • Addon Value increases the passed-in price by a fixed amount that you enter.

  • New Value replaces the passed-in price with an amount you enter.

To use the passed-in price without modification, specify 0 as the charge.

About Pipeline Rate Adjustments

Rate adjustments are an optional way to customize a pipeline rate plan version. You can use rate adjustments to provide discounts based on date, time, service, and other event attributes. For example, you can provide a discount on all calls for a specific day.

An adjustment can be a percentage change to the original charge, a value to be added to the charge, or a completely new value to replace the charge.

When you define a rate adjustment, you specify dates and times during which the adjustment is valid and a maximum quantity above which the adjustment does not apply.

You also specify rules that determine whether an EDR qualifies for the adjustment. These rules filter EDRs based on values such as usage class, usage type, service code, service class, impact category, source network, and destination network. You can enter fixed values, expressions, or a wildcard (.*) that matches all values.

When you use a rate adjustment, the original charge is overwritten by the adjusted charge. This is different from discounting, which leaves the original charge in place while calculating a discounted charge. Adjustments and discounts are also handled differently for accounting purposes. When calculating the general ledger (G/L) impact, the adjusted amount is not considered revenue. When you use discounting, however, the discounted amount is counted as revenue.

There are two ways to define rate adjustments:

  • You can define rate adjustments in Pricing Center. In this case, the rate adjustment data is stored in the IFW_RATEADJUST table in the Pipeline Manager database.

  • You can create a file that defines rate adjustment rules. For information on creating the file, see "Creating a rate adjustment rules file" in BRM Configuring Pipeline Rating and Discounting.

Rate adjustment is performed by the FCT_RateAdjust module. The module reads data from the EDR and evaluates it according to the rate adjustment rules stored in the database or in the rate adjustment file.

About Pipeline Price Models

Price models define the charges that apply to an EDR when it is rated by a pipeline. The rate plan configuration determines which price model is used for an EDR.

Price models can be divided into steps that define different prices for different usage levels. For example, you can charge a customer ten cents per minute for the first five minutes and eight cents per minute for usage after that. A price model must have at least one step, but can have any number of additional steps. If there is only one step, it determines pricing for all usage levels.

Price model steps define how usage is measured (the RUM, beat, and charge basis) and the resource that is impacted by the charge. They can also include a minimum charge. See "Setting a Minimum Charge".

In the case of multiple resources, pipeline rating is done differently. For example, consider a price model with two price model steps, where both the resources rate on Duration RUM:

  • Currency resource: $0.1/min

  • Resource voucher points: 0.5 point/min

Now, for an event with a one-hour duration (3600 seconds), the rating results are as follows:

  • $6

  • 30 voucher points

In other words, the event is rated twice, once for the currency resource and then for the resource voucher points.

One usage event can impact more than one resource and consume more than one RUM. For example, a phone call can be measured in both minutes and volume of data. Similarly, it can impact both a monetary resource and a balance of bonus points. You must define pricing steps for all resource/ RUM combinations that have a balance impact. The same event is then charged using all the steps that apply to it.

For detailed instructions about using Pricing Center to create price models and price model steps, see Pricing Center Help.

Setting a Minimum Charge

When you create a price model step, you can specify a minimum charge. You can define separate minimums for each resource defined in the steps for a price model.

If you define different minimum charges in different price model steps for the same resource, the largest minimum charge is used during rating. For example, if one step defines a minimum charge of $1.29 and another a minimum charge of $0.99, $1.29 is used.

When a minimum charge applies, the charge values for the affected resource in the EDR are overwritten and lost.

When an EDR includes multiple charge packets because of a time period split or multiple RUMs, the rating module checks to see if the total of the charge packets for a given resource in the EDR exceeds the minimum charge for that resource. If the total is greater than the minimum, the total is used. If the total of the charges is less than the minimum charge, the minimum charge is allocated among the charge packets so that their total equals the minimum charge.

Assigning G/L IDs in Price Models

You assign G/L IDs to price model steps. A price model that includes multiple steps can include different G/L IDs for each step if the steps use different RUMs.

About Price Model Selectors

A price model selector chooses a price model during rating based on values in an EDR. This enables you to apply different pricing to different scenarios in a single rate plan configuration. Figure 17-4 shows the Price Model Selector Configuration window.

You can use price model selectors to apply preferential, promotional, or other selective pricing based on EDR characteristics.

The elements of a price model selector, and the relationship between them, are as follows:

  • A price model selector contains one or more configurations. You rank the configurations in the order in which you want Pipeline Manager to evaluate them.

  • A configuration maps a price/discount model selector rule to a price model. Each configuration has a validity period.

Figure 17-4 Price Model Selector Configuration

Description of Figure 17-4 follows
Description of "Figure 17-4 Price Model Selector Configuration"

  • A price/discount model selector rule associates an EDR field with a value. A rule can contain one or more such associations, all of which are logical and must be in the EDR for the rule to be satisfied. Figure 17-5 shows a Model Select Rule configuration screen.

Figure 17-5 Price Model Selector Rule

Description of Figure 17-5 follows
Description of "Figure 17-5 Price Model Selector Rule"

Note:

  • You can use any EDR field that is defined in the data dictionary, except EDR fields that have the data format of Block.

  • You use the same price/discount model selector rules for both discount model selectors and price model selectors.

Pipeline Manager evaluates the configurations in a price model selector in the order in which you rank them. When a rule in a configuration is satisfied (that is, when the specified EDR fields contain the specified values), Pipeline Manager uses the price model that is mapped to that rule and ignores any configurations that are ranked lower. If an EDR does not contain the specified values, it is not rated with the associated price model.

Important:

When you set up price model selectors, the rules you use should ensure that all EDRs are rated. If an EDR does not meet one of the rules, it is not rated.

You set up price model selectors in Pricing Center.

Example of Using a Price Model Selector

In this example, a price model selector applies different price models based on the plan type, the service provider call type derived from the tariff class, and the sending carrier ID.

Following are the general steps for setting up this example:

  1. Create two price models:

    • PM.05_60: The charge is 0.05 Euros, the beat is 60.

    • PM.10_60: The charge is 0.10 Euros, the beat is 60.

  2. Create a price/discount model selector rule named RULE001 with the criteria as shown in Table 17-3:

    Table 17-3 Price Model Selector Rule001

    EDR Field Value

    DETAIL.ASS_CBD.CP.RATEPLAN_TYPE

    Standard

    DETAIL.CALL_TYPE

    CX_Call

    DETAIL.CARRIER_ID

    Carrier X


  3. Create a price/discount model selector rule named RULE002 with the criteria as shown in Table 17-4:

    Table 17-4 Price Model Selector Rule002

    EDR Field Value

    DETAIL.ASS_CBD.CP.RATEPLAN_TYPE

    .*

    DETAIL.CALL_TYPE

    .*

    DETAIL.CARRIER_ID

    Carrier X


  4. Create a price model selector with these combinations of price models and price/discount model selector rules as shown in Table 17-5:

    Table 17-5 Price Model and Rule Examples

    Price Model Rule

    PM.05_60

    RULE001

    PM.10_60

    RULE002


  5. Create a rate plan with a configuration that uses the price model selector you created.

  6. Create a product that will be rated with the rate plan you created.

  7. Create a customer who purchases the product you created.

When an EDR for this customer/product combination is rated, the .05 Euro charge is used for a call from Carrier X with the plan Standard and the call type CX_Call. The .10 Euro charge is used for calls from Carrier X with other plans and call types.