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January 23, 2006

IPDR.org Hopes to Standardize IPTV Billing Practices

By Robert Liu, Executive Editor


As regional bell operating companies (RBOC) like Verizon and AT&T as well as competing service providers begin commercial rollouts of IPTV services, an industry consortium of equipment vendors, billing providers and systems integrators has announced a new initiative aimed at standardizing accounting and settlement practices to measure record-keeping, service levels and billing of next-generation IP video services.
 
As opposed to regularly scheduled, contracted voice and data services offered by RBOCs, cable operators and independent service providers, IPTV services are more “granular” (for example, with the user given the ability to time-shift programming) – often creating confusion in billing for one particular service-level experience.
 
“The first thing service providers need to know is how consumers will use this service,” explained Tal Givoly, director of IPDR.org and chief scientist at Amdocs. “You need to account you need to account for this service level experience.”
 
As such, the Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) Organization has launched a new initiative aimed at rallying support for the IPDR interface in hopes to standardize acceptable IPTV practices. The meeting, scheduled to take place February 23-24, is sponsored by Cisco Systems, a charter member of IPDR.org.
 
Equipment vendors like Cisco and Nortel can benefit greatly from the standardization effort and in fact have already produced hardware capable of emitting signals that can be processed by IPDR gateways. However, all of the development has occurred prior to industry-wide formalization of IPDR protocols.
 
“We believe IPDR will allow these [IPTV] business models,” Givoly explained to TMCnet during a telephone briefing. “You have the metrics and the ability to expose them from the end devices ... that can measure parameters as they are perceived by the end user.”
 
To help foster across-the-board acceptance, IPDR.org is working with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), which back in September formed the IPTV Interoperability Forum to examine Quality of Service and Metrics as well as a host of other issues like Digital Rights Management, which won’t be explored by IPDR.org.
 
In addition, IPDR.org is also working with CableLabs, the cable industry’s consortium that has already outlined a mechanism called the Record Keeping Server (RKS) to standardize processing and billing, Givoly said.
 
The Amdocs official believes that any IPTV protocols will only help with acceptance of VoIP as well. There is currently no standard for accounting for VoIP service. But Givoly optimistically thinks IPDR.org’s collaborative efforts with ATIS could yield an industry-wide standard for both IPTV and VoIP by the end of the current calendar year.
 
Be sure to catch the debut of the Service Provider Summit at the upcoming INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo, EAST, which runs January 24-27, 2006, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., focusing on key issues number portability, ENUM, e911, IMS, SIP and much more.
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Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.

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