A clearinghouse is a company or association that transfers billing records and/or performs financial clearing functions between carriers that allow their customers to use each others networks. The clearinghouse receives, validates and accounts for telephone bills for several telephone service providers. Clearinghouses are particularly important for international billing because they convert different data record formats that may be used by some service providers and convert for the currency exchange rate.
Clearinghouses provide a variety of services, including processing proprietary records (e.g. switch records) into formats understandable by the member carriers' billing systems, validating charges from carriers with intersystem agreements, and extracting unauthorized or un-billable billing records. Clearinghouses transfer messages in a standard format such as exchange message record (EMR), cellular inter-carrier billing exchange roamer (CIBER), or transferred account process (TAP) format. The EMR format is often used for billing records in traditional wired telecom networks and the CIBER and TAP formats are used for wireless networks. The records may be exchanged by magnetic tape or by other mediums, such as electronic transfer or CD-ROM.
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