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.


VoLTE, NFV/SDN and OTT Are All Stars at Policy Control Conference 2014

Posted: May 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Earlier this month, Comptel had the privilege of attending the Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014 conference in Berlin.

Jyrki Berg, vice president of products and solutions, and Tinakaran Ramdas, Comptel Policy and Charging Control product manager (pictured left), joined me at the expo, which focused on how communications service providers (CSPs) and telecommunications vendors are adapting to the industry’s constantly changing technology and competition.

The presentations and speeches covered a broad range of themes including over-the-top (OTT) business models, network function virtualization (NFV), software-defined networking (SDN), voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, policy and charging integration and, of course, data pricing.

Here’s what industry thought leaders had to say about each topic.

The OTT Dilemma

As can be expected, one of the major issues CSPs discussed had to do with OTT providers, from Skype to WhatsApp… and every messaging and voice service in between. Lucy Lombardi, the senior vice president of industry relations for Telecom Italia, had some news to share: telcos need to find new ways to innovate when it comes to battling OTT providers for market share.

While it’s challenging for CPSs to compete with the agility of OTT providers when it comes to time-to-market, Lombardi suggested that CSPs focus on customer experience and strategically partner with OTT providers when local services are needed, a higher quality of service (QoS) is desired or customers want more security. OTT providers might be able to adjust and adapt faster than telcos, but there are still plenty of opportunities for CSPs that pursue customer-centric innovation.

NFV & SDN: One Policy to Rule Them All

The NFV / SDN discussions all came back to policy control and traffic management. The consensus at the conference was that the full potential of NFV / SDN can only be reached if systems can dynamically prioritise traffic. The right policy, however, can result in big savings when implemented.

“Policy is the brain,” one speaker told attendees, “but rules engines and current engines are changing a lot from [their] current forms.”

He added that the right deployment of NFV can improve service agility and flexibility, and even make CSPs look a little more like web companies, offering the faster service roll-outs of OTT providers.

VoLTE – A Game Changer

One speaker said that VoLTE is going to be a “game changer” for policy control. He reminded attendees that voice is still a critical revenue generator, with 70 percent of revenues – about $600 billion – coming from voice services. And that’s all at risk from OTT providers.

Cost reduction is a big draw of VoLTE services. The speaker added that, when voice services are run through LTE, twice as many voice calls can run through the same spectrum. Some telcos are already working to deploy VoLTE for customers – about 10 percent have some form of VoLTE service in place, and the GSMA expects 20 more VoLTE deployments this year alone.

When telcos move voice to LTE, policy and service opportunities grow wildly. Scalability and performance improve, and CSPs can potentially experiment by separating data and voice into different packages.

The Data Debacle

When it came to pricing, the conference discussed one thing in particular: data. Keith Breed, the research director of the Tariff Consultancy, wondered aloud whether the vast differences in data pricing could be sustainable. In Europe, data had a relatively low price, whereas in North America, it was much higher. While the market can influence pricing, competition counts – and with less flexible pricing toward data, more OTT providers will proliferate.

Yet there was another data-related topic to be covered, too: net neutrality. There’s a debate within the European Union (EU) about how the Internet ecosystem is changing; at the core of that debate is what role CSPs should play in connecting people. Should all traffic be created equally? How should infrastructure be built to cope with rising demands?

Cisco estimates data growth in 2013 climbed by 57 percent in Western Europe and by 99 percent in Eastern and Central Europe. That kind of demand will change both policy control and data pricing, so it’s up to CSPs to think about how to adapt to new infrastructure demands.

There were many more great presentations and thought-provoking speeches at the Policy Control and Data Pricing in Berlin.
We will cover some in detail in the upcoming weeks, so check back for more!


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We’re Exhibiting at Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on We’re Exhibiting at Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014

Comptel is excited to share that we’ll be exhibiting at the upcoming Policy Control and Data Pricing 2014 conference, taking place 8-9 April at the Radisson Blu hotel in Berlin.

This is the fourth year of the conference, which has become a key event for the global telco industry.

As policy continues to evolve into a multi-faceted tool for traffic management, revenue generation and much more, it’s becoming increasingly important to build a network that can handle the rapid growth of user data.

We’ll be there to meet with our customers and others interested in learning about our analytics-enhanced Comptel Policy and Charging Control offering. Our unique approach natively integrates policy control and charging in a modern, offer-driven service creation environment, Charging Policy Offer Design (CPOD), allowing for the fast introduction of new services. This ultimately helps communications service providers become more responsive to customer needs, which is critical in an increasingly mobile and context-driven world.

If you’re attending the conference, and would like to find out why we think policy control needs a ‘SPARK’ today, please come stop by our booth!