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28 May 2012

PortaOne Announces the Availability of PortaSwitch Maintenance Release 26 for Staging Installations

Maintaining the previously announced policy of agile software development with short release cycles PortaOne engineering team completed the development and testing of the next maintenance release for PortaSwitch Maintenance Release 26.

MR26 Highlights:

  • Cancellation fee mode
  • Custom fields in invoice
  • CLI class tariffs
  • SPA-8000 auto-provisioning
  • ASN-GW integration

Cancellation Fee Mode

In order to attract more new customers, many service providers have special promotional offers where sign-up costs are low or almost zero. Naturally, in order to provide revenue assurance and compensate for initial expenses (such as the IP phones provided to customers), the service provider will use PortaBilling’s “required subscription period” functionality to ensure that the customer keeps his service active for the required period.

In addition to a “fixed” cancellation fee (which is always charged if the customer terminates the service prior to the defined term), a more lenient “remaining subscription” fee has now been introduced. This fee is calculated as the amount of regular subscription fees until the end of the required subscription term so that the fee gets smaller as the customer gets closer to the end of the subscription. This early cancellation fee model still allows service provider to recover its initial costs, but is perceived by customers as more fair, thus increasing customer loyalty and reducing the churn rate in the customer base.

For example, if the monthly fee is $20 and the required subscription period is 12 months, a customer who cancels the service 1 month after activation will be charged $220, while a customer who cancels the service 9 months after activation will be charged only $80.

Custom Fields in Invoice

Custom attributes is a frequently used feature of PortaBilling, since it allows an administrator to extend the default data model for objects such as customer and account to include additional attributes required by the local market (e.g. taxpayer ID, driver’s license number, or company identification number). It is now possible to include the values of these fields in the PDF file which contains the customer’s invoice.

CLI Class Prepaid Tariffs

Ordinarily, a service provider incurs different costs for incoming calls to an IVR access number, based on where a call is originated. Naturally, the service provider should pass that cost on to the end-user; this is done by applying different tariffs for the customer’s outgoing calls (which include the added cost) based on where the call originated.

In the US and Canada, the OLI (originating line information) is usually used to distinguish between different classes of originating number.  Unfortunately, that information is generally not available for service providers in the rest of the world, so a determination has to be made based on the caller’s phone number (CLI).

For example, a service provider in Brazil will be charged 0.05 real/minute for an incoming call which originates in metropolitan areas of Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, but for an incoming call to the same access number originating from a mobile phone, the cost is 0.10 real/minute.

Since in some countries (e.g. Brazil) the definition of a single “class” of numbers (e.g. Rio de Janeiro) includes literally thousands of  prefixes, PortaBilling offers a convenient tool for managing these  definitions: each class is defined as a destination group. The calling card IVR can look up the “class” for the caller’s number and then use the class name as the “access code” when selecting a specific tariff in a product.

This opens new possibilities for providers of prepaid or PIN-less dialing services in many countries.

SPA-8000 Auto-Provisioning

The list of IP phones which are auto-provisioned by PortaSwitch has been extended to include Cisco SPA-8000.

Cisco (ex-Starent) ASN-GW Integration

This integration allows prepaid and postpaid WiMAX services to be provided by connecting Cisco ASN-GW directly to PortaBilling using RADIUS.

For a safe environment to test the new MR26 features, we strongly recommend customers to deploy it on a staging system prior to updating their production installations.


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