taking policy to the
smart connected device

Archive for May, 2012

Policy Control on the Client Device

Written by GoS on . Posted in News

Challenge

The 3GPP framework architecture for Policy and Charging Control specifies the PCRF and other essential elements, such as the PCEF and TDF. The PCEF is concerned with reporting user-initiated events and enforcing relevant policy decisions made by the PCRF, while the TDF detects and manages traffic. As such, the PCEF and TDF are critical entities for ensuring optimal user experience. The current 3GPP architecture proposes deployment of the PCEF/TDF functions in the network.

However, growing consumer demand for smart phones, coupled with the continuing performance growth of such devices, means mobile users are increasingly using applications that make bandwidth and connection demands of the carrier network. Network-based deployments of the PCEF / TDF can only respond to up-stream traffic after it has left the RAN and entered the network, and cannot fully protect against contention for resources in the RAN itself.

Solution

The solution is to extend policy control (PCEF and TDF) to the mobile device. The combination of the PCEF with the TDF on a user device delivers complete visibility of user traffic and application demands to MNOs, enabling them to have more optimal policy control. In addition, the improved visibility of what the user experiences ensures the correct policy can be applied under control of the PCRF. Device-based PCEF is the only way in which MNOs can accurately measure and manage the user experience within their overall policy control framework. The GoS 360° product consists of a network based manager component for interfacing to a PCRF, and a device based Agent. The GoS Agent combines PCEF and TDF functionality, enabling policy control directly to the mobile device, while the network-based manager offers a simple and scalable way for managing large numbers of devices in conjunction with the PCRF.

Benefits

By deploying GoS 360°, MNOs can:

  • Enhance and complement network-based PCEF solutions
  • Leverage the scalable “power” of mobile devices in policy decisions
  • Manage up-stream traffic before it reaches the network
  • Control signalling load in the RAN, ensuring more efficient use of radio bandwidth and UE battery life
  • Reduce signalling load to make CAPEX savings in the RAN
  • Obtain a complete, real-time view of application performance on the user device, leading to improved customer care and support
  • Optimise user experience on the device
  • Deliver application and user specific policies to client devices

Examples

  • Prioritise real-time traffic from different applications
  • Rich Communications Suite (RCS)
  • Gaming
  • Video communication and collaboration
  • On-demand streaming services
  • Mobile broadband access via dongles
  • RAN signalling traffic reduction

Click here to read the full use case document.

Video Optimisation Continues to Challenge Mobile Operators

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

In a recent survey, video optimisation was identified as the number one value added service likely to be deployed by mobile network operators. As author Avi Ronen notes, this is hardly surprising. Growth in video playback, streaming and upload continues unabated and is expected to continue to outpace expectations.

It’s clear that user behaviour is changing too. Users want immediacy – they increasingly want to be able to do something straight away. Video users don’t just want to watch something, they want to watch, stream and upload in real-time. And, they expect their video applications to perform, even while they might be doing something else. If, as expected, services like RCS-e take off, we can expect users to introduce video dynamically into multi-party communications, for instance. There will be many ways in which users introduce video into conversations, integrate with social media and so on.

Of course, this presents a challenge, which is why everyone knows that video optimisation is so critical. But what is less well understood is the fact that optimisation begins at the handset. Consumers uploading content will do so from their devices. This has the potential to cause immediate congestion issues in the network. What’s more, if the content is intended for viewing by friends or peers as part of a conversation or dialogue, delivery to the recipients must be in real-time. There’s a reason why video calling didn’t take off when it was first launched, but users who are accustomed to video calling on OTT applications and their laptops, are less likely to accept failures today.

Mobile operators need to consider how to obtain the best performance for video applications. This will require a variety of tactics. For example, starting with the handset, the operator can deploy software that detects when video is required and then optimise local application consumption accordingly – prioritising video packets and reducing the load from other applications in real-time. It’s also possible to dynamically search for the optimal network conditions, selecting WiFi access if that represents a suitable alternative to the mobile RAN.

Once in the network, other techniques can be applied, but it’s essential to start with the end points. After all, it’s from the edge that much new video generation and consumption will take place. Yes, there will be significant demand for downloading content or streaming, but user engagement will mean that they will be uploading and sharing more and more video. The real question is, will users pay for video optimisation or will they simply expect it by default? In other words, is it really a value added service, or simply a default network capability?

 

 

 

How much is 10 Mbytes?

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

As mobile network operators start to shift towards application and session aware billing mechanisms, the question of how much data is consumed by a specific activity or application has become very relevant.

If consumers are going to be charged in this way, they need to understand what they are actually consuming. However, even within the industry, there is considerable confusion. For example, this reference site estimates that 10 Mbytes is equivalent to one minute of high fidelity sound or a digital chest X-ray.

But over here, 10 Mbytes is reckoned to equate to a single email with a photo attachment. As many will know, photos can be compressed to considerably smaller sizes than that, as can music, so who really knows the answer? It’s likely to be highly elastic, as different users will select different default settings for compression and so on.

And, it will probably continue to be confusing. So, if MNOs are going to succeed in winning customers over to new pricing plans and session-based consumption with dynamic charging, they need to do a good job of ensuring that users really understand what they are consuming. They need to implement solutions that enable users to monitor their data consumption, that tell them what additional demands they have placed on their allowances (for example, downloading that movie clip might just consume more than the subscriber bargained for), or which ensure they know just what they are getting for when given the option to upgrade their plan mid-session.

That’s why policy control has to encompass device-level access. User activity must be accounted for – both so that the MNO can accurately implement more innovative pricing plans and billing policies, but also so that the user really understands what’s on offer.

While it’s clear that the simple world of “all you can eat” price plans is untenable for most operators, the move to transaction based pricing with in-session billing and dynamic top-ups and so on, will introduce more complications. For it to succeed, MNOs must extend policy control to client devices.