Article in DevelopingTelecoms by Procer's Ken Osowski titled "DEPLOYING MARKET-PROVEN POLICY-BASED SERVICES
Operators of CDMA, 2G GSM, 3G UMTS, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, and fixed broadband networks are looking for ways to monetise their data network investments by keeping their subscribers satisfied and offering them innovative new services.
3GPP-compliant Policy Charging and Control (PCC) systems have emerged that are built around standard interfaces, allowing for out-of-the-box scalability to support millions of subscribers in service provider broadband networks, while being cost effective for service providers of all sizes. Even Tier 2, 3 and 4 operators now have the opportunity to take advantage of revenue-generating policy-based services, giving them the ability to compete with bigger players in the market like they never could before.
At the end of 2Q-2013, the total mobile subscriptions in Africa reached 863 million—with growth of 9.3% from the previous year—according to ABI Research. They also project that Africa’s growth trajectory will continue up to 2018, with a CAGR of 6.6%, to reach 1.25 billion. The 2013 863 million subscriber estimate included 114 million 3G subscriptions and 200,000 LTE subscribers mostly concentrated in South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. With aggressive 3G/4G double-digit mobile subscriber growth forecasted over the next 5 years mobile operators will begin to push to attract smart phone subscribers that can put a capacity and economic strain on their networks. It is estimated that there were 170 million fixed broadband subscribers at the end of 2012 and that new broadband subscriber growth overall will prevail in mobile networks.
Mobile network operators must respond to this by creating service plans that are consistent with a subscriber’s application usage profile. This can be accomplished by creating subscriber policies that go beyond one-dimensional data volume- or bandwidth-limited service plans that simply assume all subscribers have the same application profile. Implementing a more granular policy creation and enforcement mechanism that can determine in real-time the applications in use, the location of the subscriber, the day and time, and the device is the answer. These policies can then directly map to personalised services offered by mobile network operators to optimise the subscriber’s experience cost-effectively, shifting current network data services from inefficient, subscriber-blind services to intelligent, subscriber-tailored services.
Personalised services can be quickly and economically rolled out to subscribers by using PCC components including the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), Online Charging System (OCS), and Offline Charging System (OFCS). These network elements are quickly gaining adoption in mobile, fixed and converged broadband service provider networks.
PCC solutions can be deployed by service providers to monetise their network investments and improve a subscriber’s overall quality of experience through developing a comprehensive understanding of what their subscribers are doing, making network investments just-in-time for the right reasons, and by quickly responding to evolving market conditions with new services.
Giving a network operator awareness of what is happening in their network is the first step to understanding what their subscribers are doing in order to help them determine what types of new services make sense for a particular market. Helping the marketing team understand application and content usage characteristics and patterns that enable them to define service plans users would be willing to pay for. This is where DPI anal
Giving a network operator awareness of what is happening in their network is the first step to understanding what their subscribers are doing in order to help them determine what types of new services make sense for a particular market. Helping the marketing team understand application and content usage characteristics and patterns that enable them to define service plans users would be willing to pay for. This is where DPI analytics comes into play.
Personalised services represent a way for network operators to tie usage to applications and offer consumers value-based, predictable pricing. Intelligent service charging is the key component to implement value-based, personalised services. This is where PCRF products play a role.
Mobile and fixed broadband network operators looking to implement intelligent service charging face some fundamental questions:
•How can intelligent service charging be implemented to offer a wide rage of personalised services?
•What is the right approach to transitioning from simple usage-based service pricing to value-based pricing?
•How do personalised services increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)?
Tiered-charging is becoming more popular amongst network operators since it allows greater flexibility when creating value-based personalised services. Tiered service models can include charging for services based on application-based volumes, application categories, application prioritisation, subscriber location, day and time, or specific applications and websites. Given the usage scenario, these policies can be used to implement intelligent and deliberate charging, with varying rates that reinforce personalised, value-based service pricing.