My experience with CGRates

At Foehn, we started to use CGRateS earlier this year, nowadays (May-2015) the platform has rated tens of millions of calls. I want to share my experience.

I discovered CGRateS in 2014 at the Kamailio World Conference. After a few years using different solutions we found that CGRateS suits all our needs, so I decided to give it a try.

The project is written in Golang, so this was the first challenge, it's not a bad idea to learn a bit of Golang before installing CGRateS.

One of our uses is based on cdr client, we have some legacy installations where we wanted to use some CGRateS features. Every few minutes we send csv files to the platform. This method is fast, we are billing our daily traffic without problem. On the other hand I tested 10K calls per minute and it is still fast.

I can recommend this option if you are starting with CGRateS.

In the last weeks, we started working with kamailio evapi integration. This feature provides a realtime rating engine in the proxy. This integration is still in test-mode but I can recommend it well:

  • Performance in CGRateS is not a problem. We tested with 3K calls per minute in a t2-small instance. Very good result.
  • Kamailio configuration with CGRateS is easy.
  • For every call, CGRateS has a cache map of the current calls, so the timeout is set based on the virtual balance.
  • With dialog module you can set the timeouts for these calls.

On the other hand, I love the following points:

CDRStats

This feature provides some stats per account, tenant, time frame, call queues, etc.. This is pretty useful, for example with time frames of 24 hours, you can easily get the Total Cost of the calls in the last 24 hours per customer. Or the ACC (Average Call Cost) in the last 1000 calls.

It provides the best interface that I ever seen for fraud, for example:

  • When TCC in the last 24 hours is more than £XXX
  • When the ACC in the last 200 calls queue are more than £2
  • When the ASR(Average success ratio) is less than 20%

Derivate Charging:

In our case we have some rates for customers, this was pretty easy, but we needed that every call bills three times. One for the cost of the customer, one for the cost of the reseller, and a one cost with our prices. With 2 lines into DerivedChargers.csv we can get this easily.

This is pretty useful, nowadays we have a graph with our benefits, costs, and customer costs in one single panel.

Bundles:

Bundles are a swiss knife for telecoms. The good thing about CGRates is that you can have more than one balance per account, moreover you can have two different balances, monetary or minutes, so you can set a destination included in a balance in minutes, when this balance finished account will be switching to monetary balance.

With Acions Triggers you can reset the bundle every first of the month, which means there are no problems with the recurrent balaces.

With Action Triggers you can call a action when the balance is less than XX minutes too. It's easy to make business logic based on minutes balances.

API

One of the best improvements in the new version(0.9.7) is the fact that the API is HTTP json-rpc, so it's easy to call to the API from a simple curl request or any other software like postman.

FixedFees

Another improvement in CGRateS 0.9.7 is the cdrlog action. With this action you can log into the rated_cdrs table some actions. In this case I'm using it for the recurrent fees that the customer paid for. Rent of DDIs, number of extensions or support fees for example.

Finally I need to say, starting with CGRateS it's not easy, but when you have a little bit of knowledge you can get CGRateS do all the hard billing work for you.

billing, cgrates, kamailio,