Telecom Billing Glossary

This glossary is a resource designed to help companies navigate, administer, and configure the TimelyBill application software.

We all know the telecom industry uses a lot of acronyms and technical jargon. As much as we try to keep the TimelyBill customer experience simple, knowledge of these key concepts will help you manage customer billing from inside our system. We've also included relevant links to help you dig deeper into how TimelyBill handles specific functions and tasks. Please contact us with questions or comments.

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  1+ Billing Billing for long-distance charges based on the distance between the calling and receiving parties.
  911 surcharge A tax assessed by state and local taxing authorities in the USA, used to fund E911 services at the state and local levels.
  Account balance The amount of money remaining in the account after billing. 
  Account number A unique and searchable numeric identifier for an account.
  Account start date The date and time that an account was created.
  Account status Identifies the life-cycle stage of the account. For example: lead, active, collections, inactive, suspended, or write-off.
  Account suspension A time in which billing does not take place for an account. 
  Accounting method The method in which the account invoice and bills are managed. 
  Accounts receivable Outstanding balance due for an account.
  Accruals When transactions are recorded as they occur, even if payment for the product or service has not been received.
  ACH Automated Clearing House, is a U.S. financial network that allows for electronic money transfers and payments. ACH payments are also known as "direct payments."
  Active account A live account that can be billed.
  Ad hoc report A type of report or analysis that is created on a one-time or as-needed basis to address specific informational needs. Ad hoc reporting involves generating a report or analysis in response to a particular question or set of circumstances, without relying on pre-defined templates or regularly scheduled reports.
  Adjustment Crediting or debiting an account.
  Agent Independent sales reps who connect customers with the services they need. Agents (or partners) deal directly with service providers or serve as sub-agents of a master agent.
  Age of receivables The number of days between an unpaid invoice and the current date.
  AI Artificial intelligence is a set of technologies that enable computers to perform a variety of complex tasks, including understanding and translating spoken and written language, analyzing data, and more.
  ANI Created by AT&T, Automatic Number Identification is used in the telecom to identify the telephone number of a caller (originator). It's mainly used for billing purposes. ANI is different from caller ID, which is solely for informing a subscriber.
  Arrears billing A category of billing that occurs after a service has been provided.  Selling a product or service paid in arrears means you don’t receive money until after the pay period is over.
  Audit trail A record that tracks financial transactions.
  AT&T American Telephone and Telegraph Company was founded in 1885 as a subsidiary of American Bell. The company was created to build and operate the first long-distance telephone network.
  Authentication The process of confirming that a user is who they claim to be.
  Authorization The process of confirming what a user is allowed to do, i.e., user permissions and access controls.
  Balance forward billing Involves carrying forward the remaining customer balance from the previous billing period to the next one. In this method, the customer is billed based on the outstanding balance from the previous billing cycle, including any new transactions or charges incurred during the current period. Also referred to as balance-based billing.
  Balance transfer Transferring money between accounts.
  BaaS Billing as a Service combines billing, customer management, payments, and process automation into a single service.
  Bill image (PDF) A visual record of the bill as it was sent to the customer. 
  Billing cycle The date on which our billing engine runs and produces customer invoices. Typically, between the 2nd and 28th of the month.
  Bill on behalf of Billing on behalf of, (BOBO), allows you to manage parent-child companies, organizations and resellers.
  Bundle A group of products that are sold together, i.e., packaged.
  BSS Business support system with front-end components that manage the customer-facing duties of a company.
  Call typing The process of establishing the type of phone call, i.e., local, intralata, or on-network calls.
  CDR Call detail record of a telephone call. A CDR contains phone call details such as time of the call, duration of the call, source and destination number, completion status of the call, etc.
  Cellular network A mobile telecommunications network where the network is wirelessly distributed over land areas via cell towers.
  Channel partner A person or organization that partners with a company to market and sell their products, services, and technologies.
  Child product A product that requires another (parent) product to be purchased along with it.
  Collections An action that is performed when the receivables for an account reach a certain age.
  Collection system A system that handles receivables.
  Commission A  form of variable-pay remuneration to a reseller, partner or agent for services rendered or products sold.
  Contract term The total length of a contract.
  Convergent billing Combining any products, services or goods into a single unified bill. For example traditional telecommunications, managed services, Wireless and IoT.
  CPaaS  Communications platform as a service. A cloud-based platform that allows developers to add communication features to their applications without building infrastructure.
  Credit limit The total amount of credit that an account or customer is allowed.
  CRM Customer relationship management, a system for managing all your company's relationships and interactions throughout the customer lifecycle.
  CSP A Communications Service Provider is a company that offers telecom (landline and wireless), internet, cable, satellite, or managed services.
  Data grid A form of data presentation that allows users to easily filter, sort, search and export customer data.
  Deposit The amount of money held from an account to anticipate non-payment.
  Discount period The period of time when an event discount applies. 
  Dispute A record tracking any disagreements raised by a customer.
  Dunning The process of communicating with customers in an effort to collect money owed for goods or services provided.
  Early termination charge An amount charged when a service is terminated prior to the end of the contract.
  EBPP Electronic bill payment and presentment is a process that companies use to collect payments electronically.
  eSignature An electronic signature mechanism for documents such as quotes or contracts.
  Event An incident. For example, a telephone call or SMS.
  Event attribute A distinguishing feature of an event that allows it to be rated or discounted.
  Failover cluster The process by which a redundant system assumes operations if your primary application, database, or network fails.
  Federal USF charges Federal universal service fund (FUSF) is a federal program to help ensure telecommunications services are available to all consumers nationwide.
  Fixed contract A contract where the price of the products or services is set. 
  General ledger The accounting records that show all the financial statements for a business or customer.
  Geocoding The process of transforming a postal address to a spatial location on the Earth's surface.
  Graphical user interface The (GUI), is comprised of the visual elements of our software. For example: windows, data grids, tabs, icons and buttons.
  Hosted billing A solution where the telecom billing system is hosted on external servers or in the cloud, eliminating the need for the telecom company to manage and maintain the infrastructure.
  IIF Intuit Interchange Format, text files that QuickBooks uses to import and export data.
  Initiation charges One-time charges. For example, a non-recurring installation or activation. 
  Intrastate routing Calls between two points within the same state.
  Interstate routing Calls made from one state to another.
  Intra-LATA routing Calls between two points that are in the same LATA (Local Transport and Access Area).
  Inter-LATA routing Calls made from one LATA to another.
  International routing Calls made from one country to another.
  Invoice auditing A manual or automated review of customer billing to analyze service usage, fees, surcharges, and taxes. For example, TimelyBill's adhoc reporting can be used to efficiently identify unassigned (unrated) usage.
  IP filtering A security layer that allows us to create a set of rules that either discards or accepts traffic over a network connection.
  IoT Internet of Things, refers to a system of internet-connected objects that are able to collect and transfer data over a network without human intervention. For example, smart homes, wearables, energy devices and connected cars.
  Itemization Detailed breakdown of an invoice.
  Journal Entry A record of a financial transaction in a company's accounting system, often used for billing and invoicing purposes.
  Jurisdictional tariff Refers to the regulated rates, terms, and conditions set by regulatory authorities for telecommunications services within a specific jurisdiction. Billing processes may be influenced by these tariffs.
  LATAs Local transport and access areas, were defined by the Department of Justice in 1984 as the operating demarcation between local and long-distance telephone companies.
  LEC Local exchange carrier is any company certificated by the Public Service Commission to provide local exchange telecommunications service.
  LERG Local exchange routing guide.
  Lifecycle The stages a customer goes through before, during and after they complete a transaction. The process includes these stages: acquisition, service, growth and retention.
  LNP Local Number Portability, allows telephone customers to keep their existing local telephone numbers when switching from one telephone service provider to another.
  LOA Letter of authorization, a legal document that includes info regarding where and when a circuit is terminated or reassigned to another telco carrier.
  Localization The process of adapting a product's language translation to a specific country or region.
  Local routing Jurisdictional call routing is determined by the number blocks, or NPA-NXX-X, of the calling and called parties.
  Lockbox A check processing service.
  Logging An application log contains information about events that have occurred within TimelyBill. These events are logged by our application and written to the database. Log entries can include user initiated events, system errors, data transactions and more.
  Low-code A software development technique that uses little or no coding to create applications and processes.
  LSR Local Service Request, the name for an order in which carriers submit to initiate a port order of telephone numbers.
  Machine Learning Machine learning is a subset of AI, which enables computers to learn from data and make decisions or predictions without being explicitly programmed to do so.
  Mediation Retrieving and merging telecom usage records into a single unified file.
  Migration The process of collecting, mediating and moving data from your existing billing application into TimelyBill.
  Merchant account A type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments, typically via debit cards, credit cards, or ACH.
  Metering A service model in which service providers track usage amounts and charge customers accordingly. Also referred to as metered billing.
  MNO Mobile network operators are companies that own and operate the physical infrastructure required to provide wireless communication services to mobile devices. US-based MNOs include: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular.
  Mobile responsive Software that adapts the layout to a device or screen size.  i.e., desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  MSP Managed service providers are third-party companies that offer outsourced services to other businesses. MSPs may provide services, such as phone, network, application, infrastructure, or security management.
  Multicurrency Involving or using more than one currency (such as US and Canadian currency). TimelyBill allows separate organizations to be configured to use different currencies.
  Multi-tenant A multi-organizational structure that allows you to run multiple companies from within a single TimelyBill instance.
  MVNO A mobile virtual network operator is a carrier that does not own its wireless network infrastructure. Some of the largest MVNOs include: Boost, Consumer Cellular, Cricket, Metro, Mint, Straight Talk, TracFone and Virgin.
  NACHA A standardized file format that banks use to initiate batches of ACH payments through the National Automated Clearing House Association.
  Net receivables The maximum number of receivables.
  NPA Number plan area, a telephone service territory, also referred to as an area code.
  Number porting The process of transferring your phone number from one service provider to another. Number porting can be done between wireline, IP and wireless providers.
  OOTB Out of the box feature or functionality (off the shelf).
  OSS Operational support system with back-end components that manage administrative duties.
  Package A group of products that are sold together (i.e., bundle).
  Parent product A product that can be purchased alone.
  Partner Independent sales reps who connect customers with the services they need. Partners (or agents) deal directly with service providers or serve as sub-partners of a master partner.
  Payment gateway An online system for processing credit card transactions in real-time. Payment gateways pass credit card transaction information from a merchant to the relevant banks via the appropriate credit card network.
  PBX Private branch exchange, a private telephone network that allows users to talk to one another.
  PIU Percent of Interstate Usage used to determine applicable USF fees.
  Platform A software PLUS the surrounding system of resources that help it to operate. A platform can connect to external tools, data, and processes.
  Portal A web-based interface that gives customers and agents complete visibility into their interactions with your organization.
  POTS Plain old telephone service, refers to the traditional, analog voice transmission phone system implemented over physical copper wire.
  Provisioning The process of preparing and equipping a communications network to allow it to provide new services to its users.
  Prepayment An amount paid in advance. 
  Product A tangible or intangible good or service.
  Product attribute A distinctive feature of a product.
  Product charge A charge produced for a product.
  Prorating A way of creating fair charges to reflect changes mid-billing period.
  Quote to cash (Q2C), the steps taken automate three core functions: configure price quote, contract management, and revenue management.
  Recurring bill A bill delivered at specific intervals.
  Rate plan Used to calculate usage charges for a specific service. These services can include phone calls, text messages, data usage, users, and more.
  Rating Determining the cost for specific usage events such as calls, SMS, data transfers, etc.
  Re-activation fees Charges applied when a service is re-activated. 
  Real-time rating Rating an event immediately upon occurrence.
  Recovery fee Used to "recover" direct costs the provider incurs for complying with FCC regulations and taxes, such as attorneys, form filing, and compliance.
  Recurring charge A product charge that is applied every billing period.
  Refund The money paid back to the customer.
  Rerating Recalculating the price of events.
  REST Representational State Transfer, allows connection, management and interaction with web services in a distributed environment.
  RESTful API An interface that two computer systems use to exchange information securely over the internet. RESTful APIs follow secure, reliable, and efficient software communication standards.
  Revenue leakage The loss of revenue from a company that goes unnoticed due to under-billing customers for products and services provided.
  RDLC Report definition language client-side. Used by TimelyBill to create dynamic quote template. These files are created using Microsoft Visual Studio's Report Designer.
  RPT A report or output file created by SAP Crystal Reports.  It can store data from multiple sources and different types of databases. Used by TimelyBill to create dynamic invoice templates.
  SaaS Software as a service, a licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis, and hosted "in the cloud".
  Single-stack A platform that includes all features and functionality within one software system.
  SIM A Subscriber Identity Module card is a small, removable card used in mobile phones and other cellular devices to identify and authenticate subscribers on a mobile network.
  SIP Session initiation protocol, a signaling protocol used to establish, modify and terminate a session or call between multiple participants.
  SMS Short Message Service, a common form of text messaging in use today.
  Stage environment A server that is used to test your data or configurations in a "production-like" environment before being deployed live.
  State and local taxes Comprised of gross receipts tax surcharges, interstate taxes, state universal service funds, or state infrastructure maintenance fees.
  Tax engine A specialized software or system that is responsible for calculating and managing taxes and regulatory fees associated with telecommunications services.
  Ticket A "help desk" request used in our ticketing management system which is monitored by a customer support team.
  T-Mobile Originally founded in 1994 as VoiceStream Wireless, a subsidiary of Western Wireless. Deutsche Telekom acquired them and launched the T-Mobile brand in 2002. T-Mobile merged with Sprint Corporation in 2020.
  Tokenized Swapping out sensitive data (typically payment or bank info) with random numbers for data security purposes.
  Traffic study Analysis of interstate revenue by studying call detail records and generating a usage report.
  UC Unified communications, the integration of multiple communication tools such as voice, video, and instant messaging into a single "unified" platform.
  UCaaS  Refers to unified communications as a service (UC) which are hosted in the cloud.
  Unbillable An account that cannot be billed.
  Usage rating Customer usage is collected and rated based on the defined rate plans and billed to apply product discounts, adjustments, etc.
  Unified invoice A billing method that combines the charges for multiple services into a single bill. For example, voice, internet and cable charges all appear on a single customer bill.
  Universal service fund (USF), a program that supports universal services for schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. Funded by contributions made by communications service providers who pass these fees on to their customers.
  Vendor Specific supplier of goods or services.
  Verizon Formerly known as Bell Atlantic, Verizon Communications was incorporated via a merger with GTE in 2000.
  VoIP Voice over internet protocol is a protocol used for transmitting voice traffic via the internet or other switched networks.
  Volume discount A discount that incentivizes customers to purchase in bulk to earn a discount.  
  WAN A wide area network is a large computer network that connects groups of computers over long (wide) distances.
  Webhook Used to connect two different applications. When an event happens on the trigger application, it serializes data and sends it to a URL. The target application then does something based on the data received from the trigger application.
  Wholesale billing  The process of invoicing other telecom providers or resellers for the use of network infrastructure, such as leased lines or bulk voice and data services. This typically involves negotiating prices and terms with each provider or reseller individually and then creating a single invoice that includes all of the services provided.
  Write-off Disregarding a small number of receivables.
  XML Extensible Markup Language is used to encode documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. In telecom billing, some switching devices output usage data in XML format.
  Zero trust A cybersecurity approach to eliminate implicit trust (both inside and outside the network). And to continuously validate every stage of a digital interaction.

Why so many definitions?

Keeping up with telecom terminology can be frustrating, but it does play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication within the industry. Over time, certain words or acronyms become deeply ingrained in the telecom vocabulary, for example WiFi or VoIP.

As new tech emerges, it often comes with a new set of buzzwords, further expanding the telecom acronym universe. Perfect examples are AI, IoT or crypto. We try to keep this list as up to date as possible, especially if it involves customer billing. But feel free to suggest a new term.