A group of telecoms product suppliers have set up an initiative to define how IP services should be billed and is pushing the industry towards usage based billing.
The IP Detail Record (IPDR) initiative was founded by Andersen Consulting and billing software company Narus, to develop a standard way of billing customers for IP services such as voice over IP, Internet access and virtual private networks.
It will also define a standard way for service providers to exchange usage information between their services. Members of the IPDR include Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and AT&T.
Andre Hughes managing partner at Andersen Consulting, said: "The IPDR standard brings order and structure to the fast growing yet highly turbulent marketplace."
The IPDR initiative plans to specify how service providers could offer unified billing of all their IP services in the future, but is immediately working on ways to standardise how carriers collect IP usage information from each of their disparate networks and present this in a uniform way.
The first draft specification is expected within the next six months, said a IPDR initiative spokesperson, and it is anticipated that the specs will eventually be passed to a standards organisation.
Compared with traditional circuit switching, which defines the duration and routing of telephone calls, the IP world embraces hundreds of unique applications. The IPDR standard provides common billing procedures to enable the routing of calls between different carriers.
The spokesperson said the specifications will enable service providers to benefit from per usage billing. The members believe that the ability to charge customers for what they use instead of fixed rate plans enables operators to better forecast bandwidth demands from information gathered from their customers' usage patterns.
The initiative will kick off its first meeting next week in California.
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