Newbie: Conference calls, Billing

I have two newbie questions. I’m not looking for the full answers… just want to be pointed to the right resources so I can learn myself:

  1. Can I use Asterisk to initiate a call between two parties, outside our PBX, as if one had called the other? Can I simulate this by dialing out to the
    other two parties like a three-way conference call and then disconnecting

  2. How can I integrate with a long distance carrier to perform billing?
    Eg: A service where a caller or callee gets charged? Are there books that
    delve into phone networks and billing platforms?

Thanks in advance,