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IPTV Services Drive New Billing Models

By Betty Cockrell

October 2006, Volume 9/ Number 10 (News - Alert) recently released the newest installment of its IPDR document set � �Resource Data Collection, Analysis & Control (RDC) for IP-Based Services � IP Television (IPTV).� This document will be a valuable contribution for the development of IPTV standards because it covers specific industry requirements, business cases, and XML schema. Industry comment on the document will enhance the efficacy of IPDR�s latest work.

In order to execute a successful IPTV program, carriers must be prepared to make several key adjustments. As subscribers move from the regimented timeslots of broadcast TV services to the �on-demand� world of IPTV, they should anticipate the emergence of new vendor/merchant relationships and billing models. Additionally, subscribers will want to create their own content bundles and expect a broader variety of �on-demand� services.

For example, customers who have been exposed to the functionality of a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) watch much less �live TV.� Customers begin to watch what they want when they want because they are not held to predefined schedules or time slots. Further, the ability to store content and view it at a later date is commonplace for DVR users. With IPTV technology, not only can subscribers access a �record now, watch later� feature for their favorite shows, they can also go back and download a missed show or view the remaining episodes of a show, movie, or other event.

IPTV subscribers will also have access to new content (such as video on demand, pay-per-view content, interactive TV, music downloads, music multicasts, and a variety of gaming services) from a variety of providers and will be able to create multiple individual purchasing profiles within one household, further complicating billing. To meet these demands, the underlying IPTV billing systems must be able to manage these new usage paradigms as they intimately impact each other, which in turn affect both end user billing and wholesale supply chain settlements.

The settlement models of the recent past will not meet the needs of the new IPTV audiences. Settlement for IP services will occur outside the previously simple confines of the telecom industry. New partners are emerging from areas where traditional telephone companies have never ventured, including movie studios and record labels. New IPTV providers must find a way to adapt the existing rigid procedures to a more fluid and dynamic business model without abandoning their current BSS/OSS system. One solution is to turn to a clearinghouse, which can assist with the settlement and billing of these services by enabling the flow of information between IPTV suppliers and partners. Clearinghouses help manage the flow of usage information for billing and settlement and can integrate with existing BSS/OSS systems.

The vast potential of IPTV places demands on BSS/OSS systems and forces providers to quickly deploy new service offerings. These providers must be prepared to:

1) Enable billing and settlement; and

2) Interface new services with their existing systems.

Clearinghouses can help quickly implement these services.

Accurate and timely delivery of billing information is critical for all involved parties � end user customers, suppliers, and partners. In order to meet these challenges, flexible guidelines are needed to support the business requirements of all partners in the IPTV ecosystem. has taken the first step by adding IPTV services into its usage-based accounting framework and we look forward to your feedback. IT

Betty Cockrell is the Chair of the Business Requirements Working Group and the Director of Industry Relations for BSG Clearing Solutions. For more information, please visit the consortium online at


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