Guidelines regarding principles that telecommunications operators may wish to consider to manage financial disputes have been approved by ITU members. A report produced by ITU and the World Bank in 2004 stated: “Disputes can be enormously destructive to the sector and effective dispute resolution is increasingly central to successful deployment of modern information infrastructure. This is particularly so where it is necessary to encourage investment and competition to reach the underserved billions of people on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
Dr. Kishik Park, Chairman of the ITU-T Study Group 3 that has produced the documents said: “Successful dispute resolution is important for all countries that seek to facilitate the rapid expansion of new communications infrastructure and ICT services. It is particularly crucial for countries that have historically experienced a lack of investment and growth. Rapid and effective resolution of disputes is one of key elements in bridging the “digital divide”.”
The documents are supplements to the current ITU-T Recommendation D.170
on General Tariff Principles.
The first supplement is intended to assist telecommunication carriers in the development of efficient processes that might be used to resolve disputes in international settlements. Before a dispute can be raised, parties should have agreed to a reconciliation or dispute criteria and such criteria should preferably be specified in the signed agreement or contract. The supplement is focused on revenue and costs assurance and it mitigates any revenue and/or cost-related issues. It describes the details of the criteria which may be taken into consideration before raising and verification of any dispute, possible sources of dispute, and determination of validity of dispute or discrepancy.
The supplement also provides guidance on managing the resolution of disputes resulting from poor reference data maintenance (rate discrepancy, destination or dial code) and transactional data (recovery rate shortfall, volume discrepancy, time zones differences, calls crossing midnight and one month to the next, negative declarations, double counting, volume committed agreements, reverse charged calls, call durations, etc). It also describes a method of call data record (CDR) exchange, a comparison process and how to proceed with unresolved disputes.
The second supplement presents guidelines for process and proposition of dispute forms for international settlements. It may help to simplify and assist telecommunication carriers in proper and fast resolution of any kind of financial dispute. The exact nature of the dispute resolution should be agreed in the bilateral arrangements between the carriers concerned.
The supplement describes the whole process, details possible reasons and sources of financial disputes and advices how to investigate and handle with them. The supplement is intended to provide carriers with information regarding possible procedures and example forms for use in the dispute resolution process. These processes may help save time and human labour as well improves bilateral business relations between partners.