Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference 2013: Where is Telco Policy Heading?

Posted: April 19th, 2013 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

This week, I attended the Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference in Berlin and came away with a lot of interesting insights. One of the subjects was, of course, the future of policy control and charging (PCC). As mobile devices diversify, so, too, do the ways that people use them. Consequently, communications service providers (CSPs) are going to have to think about PCC in a whole new way.

Policy should now be pervasive across all customer touch-points and platforms. Agility and flexibility is going to be paramount in new use cases, because CSPs are going to see a near-limitless combination of mobile data usage bundles, particularly when it comes to multimedia use. To meet this demand, there will have to be innovative new policy  and charging models.

The Troubling Siloes of OCF and PCRF

Right now, most PCC efforts are separated. That can be a huge barrier, since OCF (Online Charging Function) and PCRF (Policy  and Charging Rules Function) efforts can be stuck in siloes and CSPs can find it difficult to integrate them. However, now there are a lot of requirements coming from the market for diverse policy use cases that require integrated charging capabilities. On the other hand, policy is becoming more and more a strategic monetisation engine for CSPs. Given that there will be so many different use cases in the coming years,  which need to be launched to the market quickly, it’s inevitable that policy control and charging systems are going to grow together, so keeping the two separate will do more harm than good. Policy offerings will grow more complex as use cases grow more diverse. Not only that, “policy” is something that spans all networks – applications, BSS, OSS, every device is affected by policy control.

Still, once there’s a platform that can scale alongside policy and charging solutions, PCC is going to be critical for CSPs. It’s clear that, as policy and charging evolve, so, too, will pricing bundles. CSPs that can create versatile bundles and use predictive analytics to offer them to the right customers at the right time will have a huge advantage in the coming years. Predictive analytics together with catalog-driven policy and charging will form in the future the environment to correspond customer’s ever-growing need for individually targeted packages and make them available fast.

Personalising Policy

Without the relevant user data, it’s impossible to personalise policies effectively. That’s important, given that presenters at the Policy Control Conference seem to believe that innovative strategies for policy will rely on increasing personalisation. So, it’s time for CSPs to consider how they can leverage the big data already at their disposal for meaningful customer insights so they can better monetise their services.

A prime example here is LTE deployment. During the Mobile World Congress, we heard how LTE service has proven to be difficult to monetise effectively, given that customers often don’t use LTE to its full potential and CSPs have to heavily subsidise LTE handsets.  With the help of predictive analytics we should on the one hand target the LTE bundles with the subsidised handsets for the customers who would have the greatest benefit. But on the other hand by creating new policies based on user and usage data, it’s possible to create unique bundles that can make LTE a flexible service that becomes available when customers need it, not before. A good example is the instant bandwidth refreshment – also known as the turbo boost – to satisfy customer’s increased data usage.

This conference has highlighted what we here at Comptel have known for some time: real-time policy and charging decisions are going to dovetail with predictive analytics and catalog-driven approach.. Why? Because predictive analytics are the key to unlocking useful customer insights that can generate contextual intelligence for all customer interactions. With the right data and tools on hand, CSPs can learn about individual data usage and create new policy controls based on the easy-to-launch catalog-driven configurations that offer customers solutions when they need them, revolutionising the way that businesses think about policy, charging, and big data.

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