What’s Next in the Evolution of Policy Control & Charging?

Posted: May 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Data usage is skyrocketing. Consider Cisco’s study at the beginning of this year, which found that global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013, reaching 1.5 exabytes per month. Mobile video traffic reached 43 percent, and average smartphone usage grew 50 percent in 2013. By 2018, it is even expected that there will be more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices. No surprise there – 1 billion smartphones shipped in 2013, which was more than half of all mobile phones shipped last year.

Not only that, the faster the mobile device, the more data customers use. A study from JDSU discovered that subscribers with the iPhone 5s use 7x as much data as users with the iPhone 3G. Apps contribute to data consumption, too – 2013 saw a 115 percent year-over-year increase in app use and that number continues to rise. As devices and apps get more sophisticated and data-heavy, bandwidth requirements will keep growing explosively.

That’s where more intelligent policy control and charging is starting to shine. In April, Comptel attended the Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference in Berlin– it was obvious there that the industry was in agreement: without a way to quickly price, deliver and optimize innovative data packages, communications service providers (CSPs) will be unable to respond to the diverse needs of today’s customers and tomorrow’s prospects.

A New Ecosystem

There are currently a lot of questions about how to handle different types of data traffic. At the conference, Keith Breed, the research director of the Tariff Consultancy, talked about the stark differences between data pricing packages in different countries and wondered if they could be sustainable.

New investments such as fibre and LTE, along with the impact of OTT providers on traditional sources of revenue, are going to complicate how data is priced. That’s introduced major questions when it comes to traffic management. In the U.S., for example, there’s an ongoing debate about net neutrality. Do CSPs have the right to charge the websites that are using more bandwidth across the network? Or is the Internet a public utility? Breed advocated for a new ecosystem where all data traffic is treated equally.

As business and consumer bandwidth needs change, policy does, too. Adaptability is going to be key for rolling out innovative offers and delivering the appropriate quality of service levels to customers. Peter Dykes, senior analyst at Informa, explained that, in order to adapt quickly, CSPs will need a way to create and launch new data bundles as soon as a customer’s behaviour changes. He suggested that, in the coming years, the closer integration of policy and charging will help make this a reality.

As one speaker noted, online services will play a leading role in this space, too. VoIP, VoLTE, video, gaming and cloud applications will make it critical for CSPs to be able to manage policy dynamically. Changes are coming, and to maintain a competitive advantage, CSPs have to move toward an offer-catalog driven policy and charging control solution that helps deliver, customise and optimise data services.

A Data Debate

At the heart of the debate is how far CSPs should go in managing data usage. Comptel’s Steve Hateley recently talked about how 4K movies will require 45 to 60 gigs of bandwidth, and Fredrik Jungermann of tefficient emphasized that customers should be notified and proactively provided with solutions when hitting their data caps.

The exponential increase in data over the coming years means that having the right offer-catalog driven policy and charging control solutions, particularly one that can be layered with predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities, is going to be more important than ever. Businesses might have a data plan that only streams videos for conferences and uses landlines for voice. Consumers might watch movies or they may only text. Either way, CSPs will need a way to personalise offers in real-time to create new sources of revenue.

All of this was highlighted at the recent Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference. At the end of the day, it was clear that the secret to unlocking new opportunities is to engage individual customers – at the right time and in the right way with the data services they desire.

Want to learn more about the changing landscape of data? Meet up with Comptel at TM Forum Live! in Nice to get a copy of our new whitepaper, “10 more methods to monetise mobile data,” which was written by consulting firm tefficient (www.tefficient.com), an international efficiency specialist for telecom operators and suppliers, and sponsored by Comptel.


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