IPTV Service Providers Seek Accounting and Settlement Practice Standards

As regional bell companies like Verizon and AT&T begin commercial rollouts of Internet Provided TV (IPTV) services that bundle telephony, video and internet, the Internet Protocol Detail Record Organization (IPDR.org) an industry consortium, has announced a new initiative to standardize accounting and settlement practices. IPDR.org says on its Web site that the telecommunications industry cannot use the accounting and billing information standards (e.g. CDR) that were “designed for yesterday’s services” for this next generation of services.

Unlike regular contracted voice and data services, IPTV services are more “granular” (for example, with the user given the ability to time-shift programming) tcmnet.com says, often creating confusion in billing for one particular service level experience. In addition, vendors tend to solve the “connectivity problem” and ignore back-end functionality, IPDR.org says. They also create proprietary interfaces in an effort to get to market, and thus become tied to their own non-standard solutions.

To kick off the standards initiative, IPDR.org will host a meeting at Cisco’s facilities on February 23 and 24th for telephony service providers, voice operators, broadband network providers, cable operators, entertainment content partners and support vendors. Their goal is to “come away with a detailed working charter and a project plan that will allow us to move forward expeditiously” in what would be the first accounting and settlement standards for IPTV, says IPDR.org president Kelly Anderson, according to Telecomweb.com.

These standards are expected to mirror Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) interface used by IP network and service providers to capture network data usage information developed by IPDR.org. The consortium is also working with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) to examine Quality of Service and Metrics, as well as other issues that will not be explored by IPDR.org, tcmnet.com says.

Tal Givoly, director of IPDR.org and chief scientist at Amdocs believes that the protocols will help with the acceptance of VoIP. There is currently no standard for accounting for VoIP service, the tcmnet.com report says.

CableLabs, a research and development consortium dedicated to pursuing new cable telecommunications technologies, is supporting VoIP standards defined by PacketCable, part of a a CableLabs-led initiative aimed at developing interoperable interface specifications for delivering advanced, real-time multimedia services over two-way cable, tcmnet.com reports. PacketCable’s Record Keeping Server (RKS), one of five components of the voice architecture, receives or collects messages from other components, “collates the messages and passes them on to the necessary back-office support systems.”

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