What Is CDR Billing?

28th January 2020  by Union Street

A Call Detail Record or CDR is a flat-file, usually in CSV format, which is generated by devices and software in a communications network (such as a telephone exchange or switch) when a communications transaction such as a phone call, data transfer, SMS message or other type of communication is routed across that element of the network.

CDRs act as a log for all information relevant to a communication including call duration, a sequence number which acts as a unique identifier, origin, destination and much more. In many cases, a service provider will use a mediation system to combine the various data records generated by a communication into a single consolidated CDR file.

The format and order of data contained within a CDR can vary greatly from one carrier to the next, although a Standard CDR format was introduced in 2013 by the Federation of Communications Services and this continues to gain traction in the market.

CDRs are used primarily for the purpose of rating and billing end-user customers’ usage of carriers’ network services. At the end of a billing period (typically a month), the sum of a customer’s network usage will be calculated using CDRs then rated according to the customer’s tariff in order to generate their bill.

In the telecoms channel where resellers (sometimes referred to as telephone companies or, more broadly, communications providers) act as the middlemen between carriers and end-users, carriers will share CDRs with resellers so that they can calculate and produce bills for end-users in a similar way.

When selling communications services, particularly voice services, resellers are often required to process extremely high volumes of CDRs. Because of the large amounts of data involved and the importance of accuracy, a CDR billing system like Union Street’s aBILLity is required to help manage and automate the process of CDR billing. In addition to calculating the bills, most CDR billing software packages will also automate the generation and dispatch of bills to the end-user customers.

Advanced CDR billing platforms can also add value by providing revenue assurance capabilities. These enable communications providers to conduct detailed margin analysis of the services they have sold and help to ensure that they are being billed at the correct rate by their suppliers.

For aggregators and wholesalers that sell communication services to channel partners/resellers (as opposed to selling directly to end-users), our aBILLity system can also generate CDR files and make them available for download by the wholesaler’s channel partners. These CDRs can be generated in a variety of formats including the aforementioned Standard CDR format.

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