Resellers

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A reseller is a company that operates using your network and billing system but sells the service under its own name. So while this company is presented as an independent operator to consumers, in reality, it does not have any equipment of its own; the company registers its own retail customers (also called subcustomers) and individual accounts in PortaBilling, and the billing of their end users is done there. This enables you to expand your operation by means of “white label” or “virtual operator” services.

When a call is made by an account (end user), the reseller is billed using their own tariff (wholesale rates). Thus the end user (account+retail customer to whom it belongs) and the reseller are billed separately; they may even be in different currencies. So if, for instance, a partner is reselling your services, he will pay you $0.06/min. for each call made to the US by his subscribers. At the same time, he can charge his customers any rate he wishes (e.g. $0.10/min).

Reseller model

Resellers can perform most everyday operations such as managing their products, changing rates to their subscribers via the self-care interface, or browsing xDR records, so there is less workload for you as an ITSP. PortaBilling will automatically generate invoices for a reseller’s customers with the reseller’s name on them, and subcustomers can go to a specific domain to access their self-care interface, where they will see the reseller’s name and logo. This ensures that the end user has an image of the reseller as an independent operator, and is not aware of your role as the ITSP.

Reseller collects money from his subcustomers and is responsible for paying invoices, issued by the PortaBilling owner. If reseller exceeds his credit limit – this automatically blocks all activities of his subcustomers.

Payment flowTypically used for: OEM or “white-label” service providers, companies who would like to offer the service under their own brand name, while the actual service is provided on your VoIP network and all the billing and management of their customers is done in PortaBilling.

Billing via the reseller model implies an additional load on the billing engine, compared to a retail customer, and using only retail customers is about 50% faster than when a reseller is involved. If performance is an issue, avoid creating resellers when it is not necessary.

Multi-level resellers

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To reach more customers in the market many service providers sell their services through a multi-level network of resellers. To implement this functionality in PortaBilling, the “carrier – reseller – end user” model has been extended to a multi-level reseller structure where the entire chain of resellers is virtually unlimited.

Let’s assume that a service provider engages Reseller A to sell VoIP services. Reseller A operates independently from the service provider and is free to set his own prices for services provided. Reseller A begins to sell services to his direct clients and some small business owners thus building his own network of subresellers. Each subreseller engaged by Reseller A can act as a “white label” reseller and resell a package of services (e.g., through their own network of reselling partners) under their own brand name.

In this scenario, it might appear that services purchased by customer John Doe from some reseller have in fact been provided through the n-level network of resellers. Consider the example of the resellers’ network shown in the diagram below.

The reseller’s hierarchy is modeled as follows:

  • Top-level reseller – this reseller stays at the top of the resellers’ hierarchy. He is created and managed by an administrator and deals directly with the service provider. He can create and manage his own subresellers as well as provide services directly to end users.
  • Subreseller – is created and managed by a top-level reseller or another (higher-level) subreseller. Like the top-level reseller, the subreseller can create and manage their own (lower-level) subresellers and provide services to some end users.

Multi-level reseller model

Managing tariffs

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Each reseller operates with three types of tariffs:

  • Wholesale tariffs according to which the reseller is billed by a higher-level reseller or service provider.
  • Resale tariffs that the reseller charges their subresellers.
  • Sales tariffs that the reseller charges their end users.

Wholesale tariffs are assigned to a reseller during their creation. Resale tariffs are configured as follows: when a reseller creates his subreseller, he clones the existing wholesale tariffs by applying a profit markup (a percentage) to them. Mapping between reseller’s wholesale and resale tariffs is shown on the Usage Charges tab.

Subreseller configuration

Sales tariffs are described in the Product management section below.

Resellers can always adjust their rates for resale tariffs for specific destinations. As a rule, rates in resale tariffs are higher than those defined for wholesale rates so that the reseller creates and receives a profit each time the service is used.

Handling a resale tariff change
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When a reseller changes a resale tariff (for example, from tariff A to tariff B), the corresponding wholesale tariff for their subreseller also changes. The resale tariff that the subreseller previously created by cloning their old wholesale tariff A remains unchanged and is still used for charging lower-level subresellers.

Be aware of the following limitation: calls made by subreseller’s customers that are in progress during this tariff change may not be billed. Therefore, it’s recommended for resellers to upload new rates to the same tariff instead of switching to a new tariff. This rate change does not affect the billing for calls that are currently in progress. Alternatively, resellers can change resale tariffs during off-peak hours to minimize the amount of unbilled calls.

 Note that for service providers, it’s recommended to always upload new rates to the same reseller tariff rather than switch to a new reseller tariff. In this case, no additional configuration is required for resellers and their subresellers. This ensures that subresellers’ customers can continue using services with no interruption.

In case a service provider changes a reseller tariff for a reseller, this changes the tariff mapping in the reseller-managed products. The services are not available until the reseller and all subresellers clone their tariffs and products again.

For example, the reseller network includes:

  • the service provider;
  • the ABC Shuttle company that is configured as a reseller in PortaBilling; and
  • the Star Telecom company that is configured as a subreseller of ABC Shuttle; Star Telecom has subresellers and also provides services to customers directly.

If the service provider changes a reseller tariff for ABC Shuttle (e.g., from tariff A to tariff B), the corresponding wholesale tariff changes for ABC Shuttle only. In this case, the resale tariff and the product previously created for Star Telecom become unusable. To continue providing services to Star Telecom, ABC Shuttle must:

  • clone their new wholesale tariff B to create a new resale tariff;
  • clone the product modified by the service provider to assign a new product to the subreseller Star Telecom.

Star Telecom must perform the same steps for their subresellers. Also, Star Telecom must change the product for the accounts of their direct customers.

Product management

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The product is the main tool that defines which services a reseller can offer to their end users. Resellers are not permitted to create their own products by themselves as this requires deep knowledge of the ITSP’s network structure (gateways, access lines, etc.), which most of them might not have. Instead, resellers are assigned their products from a service provider or higher-level resellers. This is done as follows: the higher-level reseller clones one of his products and the cloned product becomes ‘at the disposal’ of the lower-level reseller.

Clone reseller product

The cloned product is created with sales tariffs (i.e. tariffs according to which end users are charged). Sales tariffs, in turn, can come with or without sales rates, depending on whether the Clone Tariff Rates option was selected during the product cloning procedure. In the latter case, the reseller needs to define the appropriate rates for sales tariffs in order to sell the product.

With multi-level reseller functionality, ITSPs are able to easily and quickly build their own networks of resellers. This helps them increase their service offerings and gain higher profit margins.

Collect recurring fees for customer subscriptions sold via resellers

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Increase your profitability by billing resellers based on the packages they sell and not just on service usage. You can charge your resellers a set recurring fee for every customer they sign up for a service package. For example, as a service provider, you create a service package with a call recording feature, sell this package to a reseller for a $10 monthly fee and recommend to resell it at $20. The reseller can then offer this package at the recommended price or a marked up price. They can also sell a service package at a lower price than what they pay you, e.g., to enter the market. Whatever your reseller charges their customers, you always receive your $10 per month even if customers do not use the service (e.g., service is suspended).

The administrator creates a product/add-on product with:

  • reseller subscription – contains a recurring fee that you charge the reseller for each customer account;
  • account subscription – contains your recommended recurring fee that resellers can charge their customers for each account.

Note that the billing period of the customer and reseller may differ, and each of them is charged according to their billing period. Subscription charges do not synchronize.

Reseller subscriptions and account subscriptions are independent and may be configured differently. For example, a reseller subscription activates immediately after assigning the product to the account, while the account subscription becomes active upon the account’s first usage date.

The reseller can adjust a recurring fee for an individual account. The reseller can provide a discount or mark up account subscription. Change in price (or any other change) for an account subscription doesn’t influence the price of a reseller subscription.

For example, reseller ABC Shuttle negotiates with their service provider that they would buy the call recording service package for a $10 monthly fee per account. ABC Shuttle intends to sell the call recording service package to their accounts at the price of $20. The service provider creates a product where it defines reseller charges ($10 per account) and account charges ($20). On May 1st, 50 accounts sign up for the call recording service package at $20. This means that 50 subscriptions for $10 become active for ABC Shuttle. When the reseller’s billing period closes, PortaBilling calculates the charges for all accounts’ subscriptions: $10 monthly price x 50 customers = $500. On July 1st, ABC Shuttle receives an invoice for $500 total for May.

ABC Shuttle negotiates with a new customer, John Doe, and John signs up for a service package for a $25 monthly fee (instead of recommended $20). To mark the price up for a specific customer, the reseller’s administrator performs the following steps:

  • creates the account for John Doe and assigns the product with the call recording feature;
  • opens Finances > Subscriptions > clicks Edit for a specific subscription;
    • selects Fixed upcharge in the Periodic fee adjustment  option;
    • defines 5 in the Upcharge option > Saves .

The periodic fee for John Doe becomes $25.

Mark up account subscription

The administrator can see all the active subscriptions the reseller is charged for on the PortaBilling web interface.