Policy Control and Charging Conference Summary

The Policy Control and Real-Time Charging Conference ran from the 24th-26th April 2012 at the Krasnapolsky Hotel, Amsterdam.  The conference included operator presentations / case studies from Swisscom, Reliance, Turkcell, Vodafone, KPN, and Orange.  I ran a post-conference workshop on the 26th April entitled “Policy Control and Charging Workshop: An Independent and Quantified Review,” the outline in the workshop is shown in this article.

In the slides below I share some of the highlights from the conference.  I start with a few slides from the post-conference workshop, which captures the mood of the conference in the need to focus on the business aspects, rather than just the technology, but significant market uncertainties remain.  Much thought is still required on the application of policy.  I share from the workshop some end-customer survey results on their view of bill shock and quality of service: Value and Simplicity are key.

Alex Harmand, Head of Service Platforms, at Telefónica Spain gave a great presentation on “Optimising and Enhancing the Data Experience for End-Users with Policy Control: Creating Value and Maximising Yield.”  In the presentation he reviews their experiences in video optimization.  The presentation reviews the importance of keeping the customer informed on their data usage.

Teresa Reyes, Director of Engineering and Design, Vodafone Spain gave a well-quantified presentation on “Which Devices and OS Are Responsible for Generating The Most Traffic and Why?”  Poorly implemented smartphones and applications can have a significant impact on the signalling load in a network.  She highlighting the 2000% increase in smartphone data sessions over the past 2 years.  Signalling traffic is a critical issues that needs careful management, hence where policy has an important role in managing the network.

Thomas Pinegger, Head of IT Architecture, Swisscom gave excellent practical advice on PCC (Policy Control and Charging) implementation in his presentation on “Moving From Volume-Based Packages Towards Application-Based Charging and Zero-Rated Traffic: Effective Strategies for Minimising Complexity for Customers.” in how easy it is to create vast volumes of diameter messages.  Steps to avoid this include limiting price plan complexity, avoiding counters in the PCRF (Policy and Charging Rules Function), and use your own Sy interface.

Hans van Oortmassen, Architect, KPN in his presentation on “The Road to Converged Real Time Charging.”  Succinctly captured the real-word situation of most operators.  The road to converged real time charging requires much attention to decoupling the Network and BSS (Business Support System) with respect to: Standard Interfaces, Data Management, Trigger Distribution, and CDR (Call Detail Record) Distribution

A personal gripe is it would be nice to see a move away from engineer inspired labels such as “gold, silver and bronze” and a focus on marketing defined end-customer segmentation such as “surfer, streamer and pro.”

From the conference and workshop some of my take-aways include:

  • A significant gap remains on commercialization, PCC is still technology-led;
  • Sy is not considered adequate;
  • Lots of interest in revenue and yield management, and its application in other industries;
  • Clarity on policy’s different roles across revenue and network management;
  • Confusion amongst operators with the many different vendor messages;and
  • The balance of power appears to be with the OCS (Online Charging System) not PCRF, though they are both critical elements that need to be well integrated.