Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference: Pre-Conference Workshop Review, 15th-17th April 2013, Berlin

I’ve been having fun over the past couple of weeks putting the pre-conference workshop together for the Policy Control and Data Pricing Conference, entitled “Policy Control and Charging Workshop: An Independent and Quantified Review.”  Its been an interesting extercise to review what was predicted through 2012 and what actually happened.

Global mobile data traffic grew roughly 70 percent in 2012. Global mobile data traffic reached about 900 petabytes per month at the end of 2012, up from 500 petabytes per month at the end of 2011.  But this was less than predicted by many of the vendors.  The reason is simply people used WiFi everywhere: at home, in the office, at their friends, in school, at the coffee shop, and at the offices they visit.  To invite someone to your home or office and not offer internet access is the same level of social faux pas as to not offer toilet facilities.  What is driving people to use WiFi?  Appart from it is generally faster, is the between 20,000% (difference in per MB price between fixed and mobile broadband) and infinite (when WiFi is free) price difference.  Tariffs drive customer bahaviour much more cost effectively than any network policy control!

Mobile video traffic was 51 percent of traffic by the end of 2012, and is predicted to reach over two thirds of mobile data traffic by 2017.  The reason, people watching TV on their tablets, and all the annoying videos embedded on web pages.  Mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012. Globally, the average mobile network downstream speed in 2012 was 500 kilobits per second (kbps), up from 250 kbps in 2011. The average mobile network connection speed for smartphones in 2012 was 2 Mbps, up from 1.2 Mbps in 2011. The average mobile network connection speed for tablets in 2012 was 3.7 Mbps, up from 2 Mbps in 2011.

The pre-conference workshop’s objectives are to:

  • Provide a deep-dive quantified analysis of the PCC market status, enabling attendees to understand what operators and suppliers are thinking and planning.
  • Learn from real-world operator deployments understanding their challenges and opportunities.
  • An aim is not to provide yet another PCC technology training session with lots of speculation on possible ways to make money; the vendors provide enough of them, rather a focused workshop of the practical realities of deploying PCC.

I show the agenda at the end of this article, its packed with analysis and opinions that are perhaps “thought but not said” in public by many in the industry working at the coal-face.  Such as in the Sy discussion, I give a frank review of the implementation status and the increasing gap between the standardization bodies ‘box and wire’ architectures and that of modern distributed software systems.

We currently have a log-jam in PCC in moving to its second phase of deployment.  The first phase focused on sweating the network assets and meeting regulatory mandates on bill shock, which is something our industry should be shamed by that regulation is required to enforce basic customer service.  The first phase of PCC has created a $2.25B industry (across PCRF and OCS).  The challenge in migrating to the second phase is the market noise has never been greater or as aggressive; as it vacillates across ‘technical ecstasy,’ extreme marketing BS, and customer-centric simplicity.  Which means operators feel lost, confused, unsure, perplexed, disoriented and bewildered.  And whenever an operator feels like that inaction in guaranteed.

In examining the market, the number of vendors has increased, for example with new entrants coming in with managed cloud-based PCC solutions, such as Tata Communications.  Amongst the existing vendors the trajectory continues to be the consolidation of the PCRF and OCS into a converged solution, to minimize all that generally pointless Diameter traffic.  I finish with a set of recommendations on where to focus, with a request for less slideware, less RFIs, less FRPs, less RFQs and a focus on show me, show me, show me!  By that I mean focused proof of concept evaluations not time wasting paper exercises.  Which requires telcos get focused on their specific needs on phase 2 PCC solutions where the over-riding principle is value and simplicity for the customer.

In putting this workshop together I’d like to thank the following suppliers for their time, openness, willingness to review, and provide material to ensure this workshop is up-to-the-minute.  And especially for not requiring any editorial control over the content or my views expressed in the material.  In reverse alphabetically order: Volubill, Tekelec (Camiant), Tata Communications, Redknee / NSN,  Oracle, OpenCloud, Matrixx, and Ericsson

“Policy Control and Charging Workshop: An Independent and Quantified Review” Outline

09:30     Market Status: What’s Driving All This Activity Around PCC?

  • Examining the situations in mobile (3G, LTE and 4G), fixed and cable.  For example as mobile operators are deploying LTE, they’ve finally deployed IMS, putting in the capabilities to support PCC so they’ve got to do something with what they’ve just bought.

10:15    Understanding the business basics: Yield and Revenue Management

10:45    Coffee Break

11:00    Standards and Regulation: You can never have enough of them!

  • Understanding 3GPP PCC
  • Then understanding all the other activities in this space: 3GPP/3GPP2, Cable Labs, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), BBF, TeleManagement Forum (TMF), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN), International Telecommunications Union- Telecommunication (ITU-T), ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), ATIS PTSC, and ATIS SON Forum
  • Sy Discussion
  • Brief revenue of the regulatory environment

11:30    Solution Categories

  • The vendors list is long, and it’s only a partial list.  Before we dive into all the vendors we’ll discuss the different solution categories to help in mapping out the vendor landscape.

12:00    Vendors: Understanding who does what and why there are so many PCC Vendors.

  • Acision. ACME Packet, ALU, Alepo, Allot, Aptilo, AsiaInfo Linkage, Amdocs (Bridgewater), BroadHop (Cisco), Bytemobile (Citrix), Callis, Cisco, Comarch, Comptel, Comverse, Convergys,  CSGi (bought Intec), Digital Route, Elitecore, Ericsson, Flash Networks, FTS, Genband, GOS Networks, HP, Huawei, IBM, Ipoque, Juniper, Matrixx, Mobidia, Mobixell, NSN, OpenCloud, Openet, Openwave, Oracle, Orga Systems, Procera, QOSMOS, Radisys, Redknee and NSN, RooX, Sandvine, SAP, Symsoft, Tango Telecom, Tata Communications, Tekelec (Camiant), Torres Networks, Vedicis, Volubill, ZTE + plus many more including the SIs
  • Understanding the differences between the vendors’ PCC solutions, architectural strategies, integration with billing

13:00    Lunch

14:00    Case Studies

  • Independent review of case studies from America, Europe and APAC, across developed and developing markets, across mobile, fixed and cable.
  • Examining the business case for an integrated policy and charging control (PCC) solution
  • Subscriber profiling in the PCC architecture current limitations and ways forward.
  • How to support various mobile radio interfaces (2G, 3G, 4G, WIFI) and PCC solutions that can help facilitate offload
  • Managing device proliferation: implementing policy solutions based on device types, e.g. smartphones vs. mobile broadband

15:30    Quick Coffee Break

15:30    Market Survey

  • What are operators actually doing?
  • What are the results so far?
  • What have they learned?
  • What are their plans?

16:00    End Customer Survey

  • What do real customers think of some of the new charging models?
  • Survey covers North America and Europe across the consumer segment.

16:30     Reality Set, Recommendations and Discussion

17:00     End of Workshop