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Understanding products

Dec. 22, 2015

Products represent anything that can be charged for. The usage data generated gets converted into a form that is suitable for billing. The service provider defines one or more mediation rules for every product.

Mediation rules

When Service is integrated with CloudPortal Business Manager, the service metadata describes all the resource consumption measured by the service, and any attributes that describe the resources being consumed. A service operator can use this information to define products with rules to that determine how much of the usage collected for a specific resource is classified as usage of the defined product. This process is known as mediation and the rules are called mediation rules.

For example, we can consider the mobile service where phone calls is the measured service being consumed. The service would then return the number of minutes (or the unit of measure) of each call and who used it. We can consider this usage type as CALL. The service will also describe the call based on certain pre-determined attributes such as:
  • TimeOfDay: daytime/night time/evenings/weekends
  • Destination: local/long distance/international
  • Origin: roaming/local

A service operator can determine, based on the business needs, if all calls are charged the same rate or if a different rates are applicable for weekends and evenings, local or long distance, and so on. The service provider would create different products for each classification. They may charge all calls the same, but have another product called daytime surcharge, which has an additional price per unit for only the daytime minutes. These classifications are decided by the service provider and will vary depending on the business needs served by each installation.

The following is an example of how mediation rules can be defined for mobile calls.
  • All calls are the same price regardless of other characteristics:

    Usage Type = CALL

    Since there is no subclassification, this is all that needs to be declared. The product creation wizard enables you to create this product.

  • Evenings, nights & weekend calls and daytime calls as separate products:

    Mobile call (evenings, nights and weekends) = Usage Type = CALL (TimeOfDay excludes daytime)

    Mobile call (daytime) = Usage Type = CALL (TimeOfDay includes daytime)

  • Evenings, nights & weekend calls and daytime calls as separate products for local and all long distance and international calls are the same price regardless of time of day:

    Mobile local call (evenings, nights and weekends): Usage Type = CALL (TimeOfDay excludes daytime, destination includes local)

    Mobile local call (daytime): Usage Type = CALL (TimeOfDay includes daytime, destination includes local)

    Mobile long distance and international calls: Usage Type = CALL (destination excludes local)

Unit of Measure

When a service measures usage, it does so in a specific unit. However, an operator may choose to price things in other scales. For example, while the mobile service measures call duration in seconds, but the operator wants to charge in minutes. To achieve this, a product can have a conversion factor which is used to convert usage for a particular product from the unit of measure of the usage to the unit of measure of the product. Services typically declare common scales to scale up or down their unit of measure. A service provider may also specify a custom conversion factor and provide a corresponding unit of measure. For example, the mobile service may measure calls in seconds and may define scales such as 6secconds, half-minute, or minute. The operator could then choose whichever unit they want to price the calls. Alternatively, they could create a custom unit called 15 seconds and specify the appropriate conversion factor.

Combining and Excluding Usage

In some cases, it may be necessary to combine multiple usage types. For example, assume that the service measures incoming calls and outgoing calls separately. The operator can either price incoming and outgoing calls separately, each having products as described earlier or charge for both incoming and outgoing calls the same way. In this case, the operator could add both usage types with the COMBINE operator to the product (with their corresponding mediation rules) and combine the two usages. Alternatively, if the service measures all calls and outgoing calls separately and if an operator wishes to charge for incoming calls separately, they could COMBINE (or add) all calls into this product and EXCLUDE (or subtract) outgoing calls to derive the value of incoming calls. The exact definitions depend on what the service measures and what the operator wants to charge for.

Usage Processing
A given source usage record will be processed as follows:
  • A single usage record can match multiple products based on the rules for individual products. All matching products will accrue usage as described in the rule.
  • Two rules can target the same product (this allows two source usage records to be added or combined).

Once a product is defined, reference prices in all supported currencies may be set for the product. These prices can be overridden on a per channel basis.

Charge override functionality in channels

Every channel can override price or charge from the reference catalog for a product or product bundle. However, mediation rules, entitlements, and provisioning constraints cannot be over-ridden.

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