This article introduces the billing policy for the real-time communication (RTC) service provided by Agora.

Your billing details may differ if you have signed a contract with Agora.

Overview

Agora calculates the billing of all projects under your Agora account monthly.

Billing for RTC begins once you implement an RTC function, such as audio call, group video call, or live interactive video streaming, using the Agora RTC SDK.

Agora calculates the billing of all projects under your Agora account monthly. On the first day of each month, Agora sends you your bill for the previous month's usage via mail, and five days later deducts the payment from your account. For details, see Billing, fee deduction, and account suspension.

Calculation

Agora calculates your billing based on the sessions under each project. The billing for each session equals the total sum of charges for all users in the session. At the end of each month, Agora adds up the service minutes and multiplies it by the pricing to get the cost of this month.

For each user, Agora calculates the service minutes according to their subscribing behavior in the session. Therefore, the service minutes for each user comprise the following:

  • Video service minutes: Apply when the user successfully subscribes to video.
  • Audio service minutes: Apply when the user does not subscribe to video, regardless of whether the user subscribes to audio.

Cost = Video pricing × video service minutes (video charges) + Audio pricing × audio service minutes (audio charges).

  • If a user successfully subscribes to both audio and video at the same time, then Agora only charges for the video service.
  • For sessions with only one user, the cost of the session equals the audio pricing × service minutes of the session.

Pricing

The pricing for audio and video are as follows:

Service type Pricing ($US/1,000 minutes)
Audio 0.99
Video
  • High-Definition (HD): 3.99
  • High-Definition Plus (HD+): 14.99
The live video streaming pricing stated on the official website does not apply by default. Please contact our sales to get this rate.

Video aggregate resolution

Agora adds up the resolution of all the video streams a user subscribes to at the same time to determine the user's aggregate resolution, which categorizes video as either HD or HD+:

  • HD: The aggregate resolution is less than or equal to 921600 (1280 × 720).
  • HD+: The aggregate resolution is greater than 921600 (1280 × 720).

Suppose users A, B, C, and D are in the same channel, and A subscribes to the video of B, C, and D.

Example 1

Suppose the resolution of the video streams A subscribes to are as follows:

  • Video from B: 640 × 360
  • Video from C: 640 × 360
  • Video from D: 640 × 360

The aggregate resolution: (640 × 360) + (640 × 360) + (640 × 360) = 691,200.

Since 691,200 is smaller than 921,600, the aggregate resolution of A falls into the category of HD, and is charged $3.99/1,000 minutes.

Example 2

Suppose the resolution of the video streams A subscribes to change during the session:

  • Video from B: 640 × 360
  • Video from C:
    • The initial 10 minutes: 640 × 360
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 240 × 180
  • Video from D:
    • The initial 10 minutes: 640 × 360
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 1280 × 720

The aggregate resolution of A is calculated as follows:

Time Video from B Video from C Video from D The aggregate resolution
The initial 10 minutes 640 × 360 640 × 360 640 × 360 691,200
The subsequent 10 minutes 640 × 360 240 × 180 1,280 × 720 1,195,200

As shown in the table:

  • In the initial 10 minutes, the aggregate resolution that A subscribes to is 691,200 (< 921,600), and should be charged as HD, at the rate of $3.99/1,000 minutes.
  • In the subsequent 10 minutes, the aggregate resolution that A subscribes to is 1,195,200 (> 921,600), and should be charged as HD+, at the rate of $14.99/1,000 minutes.

Service minutes

Service minutes (accurate to seconds), are calculated from a user joining a channel to the user leaving the channel.

Depending on the subscribing behavior of the user, service minutes comprises the following:

  • Video minutes: The total duration of the user receiving video.
  • Audio minutes: The total duration of the user in the channel minus any video minutes, regardless of whether the user subscribes to any audio. In other words, any time spent in the channel that is not video is considered to be audio (and billed as such).
If the user subscribes to multiple audio and video streams at the same time, the total service minutes per stream are not additive. For example:
  • If User A subscribes to the video streams of both B and C for the same 10 minutes, A uses 10 minutes of video service.
  • If User A subscribes to the audio stream of B, and video stream of C, both for the same 10 minutes, A also uses 10 minutes of video service.

Examples

Use the following examples to better understand the way Agora calculates RTC service minutes.

Video call with two users

Scenario: Users A and B join the channel at the same time and have a video call for 20 minutes.

In this session, both A and B use the video service. Service minutes = 20 minutes of video service × 2 = 40 minutes of video service.

Voice call with three users

Scenario: Users A, B, and C join the channel at the same time and have a voice call for 20 minutes.

In this session, A, B, and C use the audio service for 20 minutes respectively. Service minutes = 20 minutes of audio service × 3 = 60 minutes of audio service.

Video call with four users

Scenario: Users A, B, and C join the channel at the same time and have a voice call. 10 minutes later, user D joins the channel, and has a video call with A, B, and C for 10 minutes.

In this session, A, B, C, and D use either the audio or video service.

  • A:
    • The initial 10 minutes: 10 minutes of audio service, for subscribing to the audio of B and C.
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 10 minutes of video service, for subscribing to the video of B, C, and D.
  • The service minutes of B and C are the same as that of A.
  • D:
    • The initial 10 minutes: No service minutes since D is not in the channel.
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 10 minutes of video service, for subscribing to the video of A, B, and C.

Single-user-hosted video streaming

Scenario: User A joins a live interactive video streaming channel and hosts for 20 minutes. Six people watch the live streaming, three subscribing to audio, and three subscribing to video.

Since user A does not subscribe to any stream in the channel, A is charged for the audio service only. For the audience, three people are charged for the video service, and three for the audio service.

  • A: 20 minutes of audio service.
  • The three audience members subscribing to the video: 20 minutes of video service × 3.
  • The three audience members subscribing to the audio: 20 minutes of audio service × 3.

Service minutes = 20 minutes of audio service + 20 minutes of video service × 3 + 20 minutes of audio service × 3 = 80 minutes of audio service + 60 minutes of video service.

Co-hosted video streaming

Scenario: User A hosts in an interactive streaming channel, with six audience members. 10 minutes later, user B changes the user role and co-hosts with A for 10 minutes. The remaining audience continues watching the live streaming.

  • A:
    • The initial 10 minutes: 10 minutes of audio service, since A does not subscribe to any stream in the channel.
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 10 minutes of video service, for subscribing to the video of B.
  • B: 20 minutes of video service, for subscribing to the video of A.
  • The remaining five audience members:
    • The initial 10 minutes: 10 minutes of video service × 5, for subscribing to the video of A.
    • The subsequent 10 minutes: 10 minutes of video service × 5, for subscribing to the video of both A and B.

Service minutes = (10 minutes of audio service + 10 minutes of video service) + 20 minutes of video service + (50 minutes of video service + 50 minutes of video service) = 10 minutes of audio service + 130 minutes of video service.

Considerations

Accuracy of service minutes

At the end of each month, Agora adds up the usage duration (in seconds) of audio, HD video, and HD+ video, and divides them by 60 to get the respective service minutes (rounded up to the next integer). For example, if the duration of audio service of the month is 59 seconds, then the audio service minutes is calculated as 1 minute; if the duration of video service is 61 seconds, then the video service minutes is calculated as 2 minutes. The margin of error of service minutes for each month is within 1 minute.

Video resolution in the dual-stream scenario

In dual-stream mode, the aggregate video resolution is calculated as follows:

  • If the user subscribes to the high-quality video stream, the aggregate resolution is calculated based on the resolution of the high-quality video.
  • If the user subscribes to the low-quality video stream, the aggregate resolution is calculated based on the resolution of the video received by the user.

Resolution calibration

When calculating the aggregate resolution, Agora counts the resolution of 225280 (640 × 352) as 640 × 360.

FAQ

Why do I see audio minutes in my bill even though all users subscribe only to video streams? Chances are:
  • The user being subscribed to has not subscribed to any video stream.
  • After subscribing to a video stream, a user has not received any video stream due to poor network conditions.
If either of these conditions occurs, the corresponding user's aggregate resolution is 0 and the user's service time counts as audio minutes.
Why am I charged for HD+ video, even though all users subscribe only to video streams with the resolution of 360 × 640? Video streams are categorized as HD or HD+ by aggregate resolution, which is the sum of all the resolutions of the video streams a user subscribes to. In other words, the more video streams a user subscribes to, the more likely that user's aggregate resolution falls into HD+ (1,280 × 720).
Are the audio minutes on my bill for a specific user? No. The audio minutes that you see on your bill are the sum of the audio minutes used by all users under your Agora account.

Reference