Discussion Papers

Dieter Elixmann, Cornelia Stappen

Regulierungs- und wettbewerbspolitische Aspekte von Billing- und Abrechnungsprozessen im Festnetz
Nr. 240 / Januar 2003

Summary

The present study deals with billing and accounting processes in fixed networks and focuses thereby on voice telephony and value added services.

For the production of a phone bill various kinds of telecommunications services have to be process in specific enterprise-owned systems, so called billing systems. In general the billing process can be divided into three steps: Accounting, Billing Mediation, and Billing strictly speaking.

The central challenge in the billing and accounting process is that in a competitive world based on the division of labour between several market participants as it is common in telecommunications markets not all carriers necessarily have all relevant billing information.

In Germany two different accounting procedures, Online Billing and Off-line Billing, are used.

The introduction of Premium Rate Services at the beginning of the year 2003 in particu-lar makes obvious that information asymmetries are a substantial problem for the ac-counting of services. For the removal of these information asymmetries two technical approaches are discussed: a decentralised data base solution, so called administration porting data base and the Originating Network Identification Parameter (ONIP). A fur-ther solution on the bases of a centralised data base is offered by the clearing house Nexnet.

The preferences of the market participants for one of the mentioned solutions presently are very heterogeneous and are depending particularly on different interests and de-pendency of the DTAG and their competitors.

It is foreseeable that the desirable agreement between carriers regarding the account-ing of Premium Rate Services on one single solution, will not be reached. Also there is no telling yet how the solution offered by Nexnet will be accepted by the carriers.

Notwithstanding existing accounting problems Premium Rate Services will be intro-duced at the beginning of the year 2003. Regarding the possible market structure after 1 January 2003 it can be anticipated that DTAG can reach a competitive advantage in this market segment due to information advantages and economies of scale. Alternative carriers currently seem to be very cautious concerning the decision on their market en-try in this segment mainly due to uncertain basic market conditions. [full version only available in German]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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