What about netflow ?
[to Vadim Antonov who said that _metering_ traffic is intractable]
Dear ISP - you have made an accounting error that I am able to demonstrate
in my copious traffic logs. Please credit $x to my account.
Dear Customer - our copious traffic logs indicate that you generated x
last month. Please pay $x net 30 days. Thank you.
Dispute resolution -- it's fun!
i think this point is the single largest barrier to doing proper billing.
isp billing needs to be as bullet-proof as telco/voice billing. i suspect
that with many isp's (and certainly from some of my past experience) if
customers would ever have disputed an invoice we wouldn't have had a leg to
stand on. i'm sure some providers have good billing systems but i know
many that don't yet they do some kind of usage based billing.
also, as useful as netflow can be, at oc-3 speeds and higher the sheer
amount of data exported can be overwhelming both to routers and trunks (in
agreement with vadim).
I think there are several issues here:
1. technical process for collecting/warehousing the data
2. business process for using it to bill
3. customer service process for educating customers on usage-based
billing and handling the expected questions/disputes.
1. TECHNICAL: I think as we go to higher speeds, we need to see
more netflow features on the router itself (maybe a netflow
processing card to do some pre-export configurable aggregation).
I haven't heard of any plans from Cisco in this direction, so
we're still looking at (at least) one collector per major hub.
2. BUSINESS: This thread has already discussed several ways to present
the data on a bill, from very detailed to not-so-detailed. I
side with the not-so-detailed approach for now.
3. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Well, we know Telco's have huge billing and customer
support infrastructures, so ISP's are bound to go there too. The
issue is more of revenue per customer and scale: of course a telco
with $10B+ revenue can spend $500M a year or more on billing support,
but an ISP with only a couple $100M revenue will have a much tougher
time, and may decide this is a only for premium customers at first.