As Ofcom places new scrutiny on UK billing practices, Redwood Technologies has had its billing technology re-accredited for compliance with the latest tough regulatory standards from Germany.
In many markets, a lack of standardisation and testing for Charging Data Records (CDRs) has meant that communications providers have been billing inaccurately, sometimes seriously so. This, coupled with the inability of many older billing systems to account accurately for the non-call charges associated with today’s multimedia and IP communications services, has led to a crisis of trust and capability that threatens the continued growth of the European reseller sector.
The UK’s new Ofcom proposals aim to tighten up standards of accuracy for billing and include maximum error rates for billing systems as well as demands for enhanced visibility across processes through improved monitoring and reporting. Additionally, large fixed and mobile voice providers will also be required to submit their billing systems to audit by Ofcom before billing is implemented.
Martin Taylor, co-founder of Redwood Technologies, comments:
“If passed, Ofcom’s new regulations will create a range of exciting new opportunities in the industry – however, they will also cause problems for many resellers and carriers. We’re fortunate enough to have been successfully accredited to the German regulator’s stringent standards for a decade, and this has given us invaluable experience in providing compliant – not to mention fair – billing solutions to our resellers and carrier partners. We’re confident that our technology, coupled with our experience in providing cloud services through partners, will help spread compliant billing capabilities throughout the sector.”
Exacting regulations have already been in place for the last ten years in Germany, Europe’s largest telecommunications market. It is a requirement for companies operating in the telecommunications sector to submit to regular independent, third-party-examinations by an accredited agent of the Federal Network Agency (in German the Bundesnetzagentur), the country’s regulatory body for electricity, gas, telecommunications, post and railway markets.
As the core technology provider behind numerous billing deployments throughout Germany, Redwood Technologies was recently audited by Dipl.-Ing. (Master-qualified Engineer) Stefan Eberle, the public certified and sworn-in expert for telecommunications of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Berlin (IHK-Berlin). Following three days of detailed testing and analysis at Redwood’s UK laboratories, Eberle issued the renewed certificate of compliance on March 14th 2013, enabling Redwood’s billing technology to continue in operation with Germany’s major networks, including Deutsche Telekom.
By delivering the same reliable and compliant technology through a cloud-based model, Redwood Technologies enables partners to gain complete control and visibility over their billing processes, with fully customisable tariffs ensuring that only the relevant parts of any transaction are charged. Additionally, Redwood’s platform produces reports that drill down into detail across multiple layers, providing resellers with accountable data on their own and their customers’ transactions. An automated calculator produces an estimated total bill and this can be compared against actual results to enable pre-emptive investigation of any potential discrepancy.
Stefan Eberle, the public certified and sworn-in expert of IHK-Berlin, commented:
“This Ofcom proposal does not come as a surprise. Ten years ago, the German telecommunications industry was suffering from the same problems – many organisations were providing billing that was simply inaccurate. For this reason, we introduced new, more stringent regulations, and these ushered in a complete change of billing practices across the entire sector.
“There needs to be more understanding that when it comes to billing, the switch doesn’t make mistakes – errors are made by individuals, or result from poor tariffing. In a voice call, for example, there are technically three stages of the process that are tracked by the switch – the first is from the connection to the answer, the second for the duration of the actual connection, and the final stage is from the end of the connection through the cleardown phase. Of these three intervals, organisations should only bill for the actual connection phase. What we found in Germany, and what has now been seen in the UK, is that without any regulation, many businesses will simply charge for the entire duration of the call, distorting the overall bill.
“The Ofcom imposition is a step forward for the UK telecommunications industry. And we are pleased, in the midst of this regulatory reform, to be able to once again accredit Redwood Technologies for a billing system that remains fully compliant with German regulations, and should serve as a positive example for good billing practices in the UK. The open nature of the technology and the accountable reporting are precisely what is required to promote best practice.”