Vendors are your service providers, for example termination partners or incoming toll-free line providers. Every time a call travels from your network to a vendor (via telephony or VoIP), a cost is associated with it. So at that point PortaBilling will charge the account and customer for the call, and also calculate your termination costs.
For some services such as voice calls, vendors are required to provide consistent operation (e.g., call routing) and auditing (reporting, statistics) of your business. For other services (e.g., WiFi access or broadband Internet access) there are no direct costs associated with a particular session that are to be recorded as an individual xDR (for instance, your uplink provider may charge you a flat monthly fee for a 1Mbit/s channel to your WiFi hotspot), and so vendors will only be used to accumulate some usage statistics.
Connections to a vendor
Connections define points where calls travel from your network to a vendor. For connections via IP, we need to know the IP of the remote node (where the call is being sent to), while for telephony we need to know the gateway and, optionally, the name of the port the phone line is connected to. A connection defines a termination cost, i.e. the tariff according to which a termination partner charges you.
In case of a direct call between two users on your network, there is no “external” vendor. In this case, you would create a special “internal” vendor which represents your own company. This will allow you to properly accumulate statistics for all on-net calls.
Connections from a vendor
It may happen in your business that you incur costs not only when terminating calls, but also when a carrier delivers calls designated for one of your customers to your network. Typical examples of situations in which such charges occur include the following:
- You purchase a toll-free number from a carrier and interconnect with it via E1/T1. When a customer dials this number, the call is delivered to your gateway, and you can then provide a service (e.g., a prepaid card IVR) to the customer.
- You purchase a set of phone numbers (DIDs) to be distributed to your customer’s IP phones. When a number is dialed anywhere in the PSTN world, it will travel to the carrier who owns these numbers. The carrier will then forward the call either directly to your SIP server via an IP, or to your VoIP gateway via a PSTN trunk.
In both cases, you will be charged by the carrier who provides you with the service according to call duration, and these expenses must be reflected in PortaBilling in order to show your cost/revenue figures correctly.
PortaBilling can build load graphs for every connection so that you can monitor average load and quality parameters (e.g., ASR) for each one.