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Service Provisioning Environment for Consumers' Interactive Applications

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Summary : Concepta has its role as a network provider of HFC Networks for the transmission of analog and digital signals for TV and data reception via Cablemodems, STB´s and PC´s. Main part of Cocepta´s work was to analyze the existing network structures and to identify networks with sufficient potentials for the implementation of economically feasable services in modern HFC high speed networks in terms of technical and demoscopic parameters. Concepta takes responsibility for design and planning tasks concerning the upgrades of former unidirectional and bandwidth limited networks which mainly had no or only neglectable optical parts in the physical layers of cable networks. Conceptas efforts lead to the provision of fully bidirectional HFC networks with a spectrum available from 5 MHz to 862 MHz. Based on the lessons learned concerning designing, measuring and levelling in bidirectional networks it is now possible to upgrade and to implement new services in new or renewed networks operated by Concepta. Standardized processes for calculating, (re)designing and implementation processes for HFC network building were developed to decrease upgrade times and costs and to increase availability of networks and the number of IT and telecommunication services.
The project develops and validates an information model for customer care within a service provisioning environment for consumer-oriented interactive applications. This includes a customer care system and billing functions that take into account heterogeneous service platforms including variable upstream and downstream bandwidths. It will fulfil a number of requirements such as suitability for a large number of multimedia services, conditional access, asynchronous transmission mode (ATM)-related billing and openness for interconnections to cross-border multimedia service sites. In addition, customers' acceptance of these different services which is reflected in their service usage as well as willingness to pay will be evaluated. IC stands for 'InfoCity NRW', the field trial environment. InfoCity NRW is a large scale trial which offers multimedia services to about 10000 residential users. It is an ideal situation for testing the chosen approaches in a realistic environment. The main achievement is the development of a billing and accounting prototype system. It shows a number of features such as hot billing, flexible tariffing schemes, service bundling, re-rating, etc. An initial customer care model and a security concept have been defined. A strong relationship has been established with InfoCity NRW which is reflected in the fact that SPECIAL's reverse channel approach has been implemented in the trail cable sites. Initial user requirements investigations have been carried out and will be complemented by evaluation studies. The project addresses a novel field within multi media research because so far, very little material exists on billing and customer care for multi-service platforms in a heterogeneous network environment. It is particularly important that the project can conduct its work in the context of a pilot test that generates real traffic. The project's integration within this pilot test will also contribute to the development of realistic approaches in tariffing for a variety of consumer-oriented services.
Summary : The TIC Billing System enables the billing of digital content on online systems in particular on the Internet. Products that can be billed and offered in a flexible way range from print, audio, video, databases, services to software. Potential clients are found in a wide range of branches. First of all publisher for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and books as well as Internet Service Providers. But also providers of games, video-on-demand, music and software are key targets as well as all services (banks / insurance / education / training / archives) that will more and more proceed to offer their products and services also via the internet. The SPECIAL Billing system is one of the first to offer billing in real time. All accounts are accessible at any time for customer, service and content provider. Furthermore the billing solution comprises the possibility of unique price and discount structures along with very flexible billing structures in general. For instance subscriptions are possible by time or capacity, differing depending on time of the day or day of the week. There is no need for the content providers to change their existing content. It can be entered into the billing system without changes. The billing system mirrors the customer structures of the "real world": Access rights can be defined separately for different departments of companies as well as different members of a family. Being based on standards (SQL-data base, Java) and due to its multiple client, currency and language feature the billing system can be employed internationally with equal simplicity. The administration is done via www and easy to handle for both end user and administrators