Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management?


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Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management?

  1. 1. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? Posted by Brian Walsh Oct 23, 2009 Many operators have driven customer adoption of mobile data services with flat-rate mobile data plans, but they are now struggling to maximize revenues for available bandwidth across subscribers. Ironically, flat-rate plans are beginning to compromise operator revenue opportunities by driving revenue-less traffic growth and enabling services substitution, as users increasingly choose applications from other players in the mobile application ecosystem. Operators who want to avoid becoming “bit pipe” providers need to deploy intelligent IP networking and policy management solutions to offer differentiated and personalized services for new revenues and improved customer retention.  The Need for Policy Management As high-speed mobile data usage continues to expand, the needs of subscribers will vary considerably in terms of capacity, performance, and reliability. Policy Management enables operators to implement multiple subscription offerings and enforce subscription limits to deliver more targeted services. By deploying service- aware and subscriber-aware policy rules, operators can dynamically respond to changing network and subscriber status, such as roaming, excess usage, congestion, etc.  Based on subscribers’ profiles, policies can be implemented in real time to prioritize access, QoS, performance, time of day, charging, roaming, or service-dependent requirements, making it possible for subscribers to create and to be charged for a highly personalized service package. And operators can differentiate their services by prioritizing subscriber traffic flows, offering bandwidth boost, or delivering ad-subsidized content. The diagram below shows several variables that can be used to develop policy-based rules for service usage. Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 1
  2. 2. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? Furthermore, while subscribers desire seamless and consistent service across networks, devices, data, and applications, they also expect the network to protect them if they unknowingly access a service that results in unwanted surcharges. For example, policy management can play a role in providing full awareness to a subscriber of potentially excessive roaming charges for high-volume data when on a visited network. A Policy Management Recipe for Success Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 2
  3. 3. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? An operator’s policy management solution should be able to be enforce policies dynamically in response to real-time network or service usage conditions to determine what services are to be delivered, what service restrictions may apply, what if any usage limits should take effect, and any other actions needed to enforce contractual conditions. The solution needs to factor bandwidth criteria into network admission decisions, ensure that subscribers comply with the terms of contracts, enforce Fair Usage Policies (FUP), and apply threshold triggers. To give operators the flexibility to customize subscriber access and billing in ways that were not possible before, the policy management architecture needs to enable access control at multiple levels: • Bearer level controls for initial access as well as for connection time. • Service level controls for authorizing initial access to a service and so that separately chargeable, tiered services can be offered to subscribers. • Transaction level controls for authorizing each content request, offering granular control of high-value content. At each level there must be a capability to insert subscriber dialogs for access warnings, policy acceptance confirmation, or service enrollment. A standards-based Policy Management solution includes the management and customization capabilities of the Policy Charging and Rules Function (PCRF) along with the enforcement capabilities of the Policy Control Enforcement Function (PCEF), typically embodied in the Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) – or, in future LTE networks, the Packet Data Node Gateway (PGW). The GGSN and PGW must deliver high performance, scalability, and resiliency, coupled with advanced content-filtering and -charging services. Policy Management Use Case Examples Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 3
  4. 4. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? There are many use cases and services enabled by Policy Management solutions, such as: • Roaming Controls – to control access, QoS, and charging rules in real time depending on a subscriber’s roaming status.  Operators can reject the bearer level access when a subscriber is roaming over certain high-surcharge networks to avoid disputes over settlement charges for unknowing subscribers.  Frequent roamers can be offered a premium plan that allows access to all services at any time. • Day Plans – a growing number of laptop and netbook users want temporary mobile broadband access when visiting areas not served by their home provider. Mobile operators gain revenues by offering user-provisioned access for a limited duration, similar to services offered by WiFi hotspot providers. • Fraud Protection: SIM Swapping – revenue leakage occurs when subscribers use their mobile data plan to provide network access to their laptops, either by connecting to the mobile device using Bluetooth or physical cables (tethering), or by directly using a SIM card within the laptop. With Policy Management, operators can sell (or offer on as-needed basis) plans that supports tethering or SIM swaps. • Enforcement of Fair Usage Policy – The difference in consumption between heavy bandwidth and light bandwidth users can frustrate subscribers – the average user pays the same fee as the heaviest users, essentially subsidizing them, and experiences slowdowns and congestion caused by heavy-users’ activities. A Policy Management architecture allows operators to enforce ‘fair use’ by enabling control of network resources according to service, subscriber, or a combination of both.  Operators can apply service-specific rate-limiting rules during times of peak network saturation, or offer a specialized package that enables use of high-bandwidth services without rate limiting. • Bandwidth on Demand – Casual users can often benefit from occasional increases in bandwidth to support network-intensive activity. For example, it can require a great deal of time to upload digital photos onto photo-sharing sites. This is inconvenient and frustrating for the subscriber, and burdens the network with long-term sessions. Bandwidth on demand can dramatically improve subscriber experience while providing incremental revenue for Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 4
  5. 5. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? operators. A Policy Management architecture enables operators to sell subscribers a bandwidth throttle that they control. Many operators are just starting to evolve beyond flat-rate or simple tiered mobile data plans to offer compelling revenue-generating services to their consumer and business subscribers. Policy Management can play an important role in creating additional value for subscribers with flexible and more personalized services, all of which lead to higher operator revenues as well as improved customer retention. Do you know of any examples of operators using policy management to offer personalized or differentiated services? Do you agree that Policy Management is the next *obvious* step for operators to avoid the "bit pipe" trap? 689 Views Tags: policy_management, mobile_internet, mobile_monetization, mobile_operators, mobile_applications, policy_control, packet_core Oct 27, 2009 1:16 PM David Almstrom 3 in Sweden offer dayplans and are also separating billing for phone access vs pure data-traffic. I think most of operators have switched to be able to offer unlimited access from your phone for less than €1. Tele2 and 3 are also offering pre-paid mobile broadband subscriptions Oct 28, 2009 2:26 PM Mark Grayson David Almstrom in response to Hi David totally agree with policy control of fair usage/bundles. Moving forward, I think it will be interesting to see what percentage of bandwidth is required by those applications requiring tight QoS for improved quality of experience. In a parallel thread, I ask the question "how to dimension an LTE network?". Baselining on 10 GB/month and 10% consumption in the busy hour, results in dimensioning of around 75 kbps/user sustained throughput. So, what percentage of that 75 kbps will be require tight QoS? Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 5
  6. 6. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? 5%? 10%? 90%? Cheers, Mark Nov 7, 2009 5:16 PM Ritesh Bansal Kumar Completely agree that policy provides capability to the operator to differentiate. Though for most operators, the challenge has been - (a) Internal convincing to marketing and sales team, from most feedback when the operator marketng and sales teams hear "control", it has a negative sense (b) cost and somehwat complexity. Most operators are deploying policies around fair usage, parental controls and fraud/abuse protection. There are some operators taking policy to the next level of deploying time and event based policies. As an example - Garrett, a Cisco account manager, was discussing with his customer on how to utilize uplink capacity (most traffic being download") Nov 22, 2009 9:44 PM David Almstrom Ritesh Bansal Kumar in response to and moreover, data is going to be bursted. Consistent throughput of 75kps is doing no- one no good. You wanna have access to 10M+ when you and for some services, you would need minimum latency but not that much bandwidth - and that will be a challenge of deploying individual policy management. That would require that operators have good insights in who are their power users and what services they are using and needing. All users are not equal. For example, with my phonebill exceeding €1,000 per months, the operator should probably provide my number/IP with prio 1 as a general classification. Then they would have to categories a number of services and select a suitable policy: Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 6
  7. 7. Service Provider Mobility: Is the Time Right for Operators to Get Serious About Policy Management? - videostreaming (policy 1 + prio 1 could give low-latency with 512k bandwidth; prio 2 maybe 128k guaranteed) - videodownloading to phone (policy 2 + prio 1 give high latency and 128k bandwidth) - video to PC (policy 3 + prio 1 give high latency and maximum burst 10M but no guarantee, prio 2 maybe 2M) - etc. .d Generated by Jive SBS on 2010-05-25-06:00 7