60-60 Billing Techniques : how to ensure compliance for both Billing and Settlement

​“60-60 billing”, or to give it a better title “Incremental billing”, is on the rise and continue to provide interconnect billing complexity. iCONX Interconnect Billing expert Rupert Rock explains the history, typical models, and compliance challenges for this requirement

Incremental billing means that Carriers are charging in slices that are higher than a single second. For example, “per-minute charging” means that a call lasting somewhere between 0 and 60 seconds would always be charged as 60 seconds. Likewise a call lasting between 61 and 120 seconds would be always charged as 120 seconds and so on. So – speak for 40 seconds, but pay for 60.

Essentially, incremental billing means that customers are charged for call duration that they did not use. Rupert explains “This charging type has been around for many years in wholesale voice but only applied to a few international destinations, typically Mexico and Gambia. In recent years more countries are now being included for example Pacific Islands and UAE, to help improve margins in this commoditised market”.

The charging model is typically expressed using two numbers, the first part being the ‘minimum’ and the second part the ‘increment’. As an example, per minute billing would be written as 60/60, whereas Standard per second rating would be 1/1.

Comparison of Model III with incremental billing and a rise in 60-60.

Other Billing models

A different model could apply, whereby in the first minute, anything below 60 seconds is rounded up to the nearest minute, but after that first minute then a normal “per-second” rating applies again. This is known as “60/1”. So – speak for 40 seconds, pay for 60. Speak for 61 seconds, pay for 61.

In fact, many different models can apply and it’s vital that the interconnect billing system can cope with all.

For instance, other common models are 6/6, 10/10, 18/6. Historically, retail billing was based on ‘pulses’ that were generated by switches at particular times, typically every minute (60/60) or every 6 seconds (6/6). Whereas current billing systems now use event records rather than pulses, many carriers still apply this incremental billing, typically in their retail billing plans.

Growing trend – the rise of Incremental Billing

A few countries have long included incremental billing in their wholesale offer including, Mexico (60/60) and Gambia (initially 6/6, currently 60/1) being well known examples.

However since 2016, more countries have joined and with different increment types. With little regulatory pressure on calls originating abroad, incremental billing becomes a straightforward way to highly boost (wholesale) revenue. We are now seeing 60:1 charging for Vietnam, 30:6 billing in Brazil and more recently, 60:60 billing in the UAE if a call originates from India . We expect this list of countries and charging complexity to continue to grow.

Coincidentally, OBR origin surcharging started in the EU at the same time, and for similar revenue boosting reasons, OBR continues to grow in other regions.

Depending on the exact distribution of call durations, 60/60 or 60/1 billing could well result in additional revenues between 10 and 30 percent (given an average call duration of 2 minutes) or up to an additional 100 percent for an average call duration of 35 seconds.

As a carrier terminating traffic, a statistical analysis of your call durations will tell you the optimal minimum and increment figures and the revenue increases that can be expected.

As a carrier sending minutes to countries applying incremental rating, you will need to accurately calculate the expected cost as well as to route in a cost effective way to these countries.

A man in a robe, utilizing incremental billing, is talking on his cell phone

iCONX System Compliance

From inception, the ICONX system has been capable of handling Billing increments, both for incoming (billable) and outgoing (settlement) traffic. Our functionality not only allows users to incrementally bill as it is currently in use on the market (with 2 rate spans), but we also allow users to define more complex scenarios with multiple (more than 2) rate spans. It would be, for example, no problem to rate the following scenario:

  • 0-60 seconds: Round up to 60 seconds
  • 61-600: Round up to the next 10 seconds
  • 601- 1200: Round up to the next 6 seconds
  • 1201- : Charge per second.

If you are experiencing growing issues with the billing and settlement of these increments, please contact info@iconxsolutions.com to find out more.