Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rate Plan Exasperation

Telecom service provider rate plans come in a variety of formats, most of which are confusing. Telecom rates are quoted by NPA-NXX, LATA, LATA and OCN, LATA and Tier, State and OCN, State and LATA. Sometimes rates are quoted by geographic names, such as a single rate for USA. This practice sounds user friendly, but is ambiquous and can lead to rate disputes. For example, some carriers define USA as the lower 48 states and include Alaska and Hawaii as offshore. And what about Guam, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa? Are US territories part of the USA rate plan?

Then there are jurisdictional rates - that is different rates based on the calling and called number. Example are different rates for inter-state, intra-state and local calls. There can also be rates for local long distance. Local long distance, now that is a funny oxymoron, until you get hit with charges higher than expected.

All these different rate formats cause major headaches for enterprises and small service providers who must constantly struggle to understand their telecom bill and dispute over-charges from their carrier. In fact, a significant industry niche has developed to serve the need of managing the confusing array of telecom fees. Do a Google search on telecom expense management and you will find dozens of companies serving this need.

So all this effort struggling with confusing telecom rates would go away if carriers offered rates in a common format for explicit ranges of telephone numbers. Now I understand that there are a lot very good technical and business reasons for carriers to not do this. However, non-confusing rate plans are a common need for all telecom consumers. So to meet this need, John Todd, the VoIP innovator who created ITAD, is leading a VoIP community effort to define a telecom rate plan that is easy to understand and to load for routing and billing. To review the proposed rate plan format, and offer your edits, go to http://www.loligo.com/asterisk/misc/rates/.

1 comment:

JB said...

Really, Jim. It was a good idea of John Todd. We will adopt this standard as a requirement for our suppliers, for ourselves and for our partners. And release it, here in Brazil.