Multilingual Support & Multiple Currencies & Inter-carrier Settlements | Introduction to Billing

Multilingual Support

Multilingual support involves providing invoices and customer care services in multiple languages. There is a growing trend to aggressively seek multinational customers and it is becoming crucial for the billing system to invoice customers in their chosen languages. Multilingual support may also be required by government regulations. Customer service representatives (CSRs) with multiple language skills should be available to communicate with customers. Some of the key challenges associated with supporting multiple languages include single versus double-byte character set support, invoice design, equipment compatibility (printers, monitors, keyboards, etc.), and software drivers.

Multiple Currencies

Multiple currencies used in different countries can complicate the billing system as the billing and customer care system must be capable of recording and processing in units of multiple currencies. Multinational companies will most likely process in multiple currencies. Some of the complications of multiple currencies include: rounding rules, significant digits, timing of rate conversion, payments made erroneously in a different currency, and rapid changes in exchange rates.

Inter-carrier Settlements

Inter-carrier settlements are the exchange of value between carriers that provide services to each other. Because hundreds of carriers may be providing services with each other, inter-carrier settlements are often provided on a wholesale basis between network operators based on prearranged agreements between the carriers. In the United States, inter-carrier settlements are enabled through the use of carrier access billing system (CABS) or independent clearing houses.

Inter-carrier settlements are becoming more complicated with deregulation. To encourage fair competition, some governments are requiring existing (incumbent) telecommunication companies to unbundle network elements (UNE). Unbundling is the process of separating portions of a telecommunication network that are owned or operated by a service provider. It is a common term used to describe the separation of standard telephone equipment and services to allow competing telephone service providers to gain fair access to parts of incumbent telephone company systems. An example of an unbundled service is for the incumbent phone company to lease access to the copper wire line that connects an end user to the local telephone company. The competing company may install high-speed data modems (such as ADSL) on the copper line to enhancing the value of the telecommunications service.

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