taking policy to the
smart connected device

Archive for January, 2013

WiFi Offload and Distributed ANDSF

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

Today, MNOs are exploring new ways to optimise the user experience. One such method of accomplishing this involves the ability for a smart device to access both 3GPP and non-3GPP networks, such as WiFi, simultaneously.

MNOs are looking to offer users a system that keeps them connected to a network that satisfies their needs. The solution is to deploy a new functional entity, the ANDSF.

The purpose of the Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF) is to assist user devices to discover non-3GPP access networks and to switch between them seamlessly. This enables operators to implement policies on the smart connected device that allow for either one or several active access network connections to be used, depending on the requirements of the user, the policies established by the MNO, and the demands of different applications. This way, users can relax and enjoy seamless connectivity literally to the best network that is available.

Instead of relying on only the conventional mobile network, users can benefit from automatic selection between 3GPP and non-3GPP networks, removing registration issues. The ANDSF allows operators to create and implement policies that enable optimised connectivity for mobile devices. Doing so ensures that users have suitable connectivity to do what they want. Users won’t need to worry about, for example, switching from 3G to WiFi manually to browse the Internet or upload content. Browsing with 3G is sometimes the best way of ensuring a connection; at others WiFi may be more suitable. It all depends on network conditions, network availability and what the user is trying to do. The way to achieve a better user experience is to make sure that the user is always best connected. The ANDSF solution standardises this, leaving the user to focus on what they want.

GoS Networks extends the ANDSF to the mobile connected device, enabling MNOs to implement device-level policies and to make decisions before traffic reaches the network. The GoS Agent and GoS Manager work together to provide users with an optimised experience by identifying applications and traffic types, implementing policy, and selecting the best access network(s); activities which are all performed seamlessly.

Want to learn more? See our WiFi Offload and Distributed ANDSF use case.

Upload is the Killer: Symmetry Must be the Goal

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

In a recent interview on the BBC Radio 4’s flagship ‘Today’ programme, Peter Cochrane, former CTO of BT, suggested that, while download speeds for broadband in the UK where increasing, that wasn’t the main issue. Instead, he argued that new services such as cloud computing and telemedicine demanded symmetrical broadband. To paraphrase, it’s no good having 60Mb/s downlink if you can only upload at 1Mb/s.

He’s right – the future has to be symmetrical, but in many markets without widespread fibre to the home deployments, this will take time. The problem is that future applications will increasingly demand interaction from the user and will require the user to upload data. Of course, users upload data today, but it’s not necessarily real-time data.

New applications will need to support real-time streaming and control in addition to conventional uploads. Such traffic needs to be prioritised. The issue is not just limited to the UK – many countries have similar issues and, in general, universal fibre to the home or ubiquitous LTE access, remain targets not realities.

In the absence of truly symmetric broadband fixed or otherwise, what’s to be done? Well, one answer is to help this transition with innovative, device level solutions that can optimise traffic at the device in response to network policies. When a user is simply uploading data, traffic can flow as normal – but if real-time video is required in a critical situation for example by emergency services responding to a disaster, then the client device can prioritise this to ensure that conditions are optimised.

Yes, symmetric broadband is the goal. While this is the likely end game in fixed networks, it will take considerable investment and time. What’s more, neither LTE nor its mooted successors are going to be symmetrical, so the problem of managing upstream traffic is going to continue to be a challenge in future mobile networks. There may be a (distant) solution in fixed networks, but there is no avoiding the fact that mobile broadband will continue to be asymmetrical. Device-level traffic management is the only answer.

While the migration towards truly symmetric broadband in fixed networks takes place Network Operators can be supported by the deployment of device level solutions, which extend policy into the user domain and enable traffic optimisation to suit the demands of new and emerging applications, consumers and network operators alike. They can do the same in mobile networks where the problem is even more pressing, as asymmetry will remain the reality.

Why not meet with us at MWC to find out how?

Device Level Policy Control as a Catalyst for Policy Innovation

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

The field of policy delivery and control is becoming increasingly interesting with analysts starting to pay attention to what was once a market solely concerned with network and user protection.

Research from Analysys Mason has conducted research that suggests “50% of newly implemented policy management solutions are expected to be in support of new service offerings”.

This is good news. While the market continues to evolve, it’s clear that policy is likely to become fundamental to new service innovation and business models. Analysys Mason goes on to suggest two key changes in policy management solutions that will be critical to realising this vision:

  • First, the simplification of the user interfaces with policy[1] management systems, so as to enable a non-network engineer to create, edit and manage policies without endangering network integrity.
  • Second, the tighter integration between the service design function within billing systems and policy management systems. The need to link new service offers to pre-defined policies without having to double key information enables new services to be created and launched quicker.
  • We would go further – while these points are necessary they are not in themselves sufficient to deliver the full potential of policy frameworks. For this to happen, the evolution of policy must also encompass consideration of user devices and gateways.

Policy control needs to be delivered not only to the edge of the network but beyond, into the RAN and user domains. This means that the policy framework can only be completed when device level control is available.

Our experience reflects this. We have seen operators that have deployed our unique software client in devices and connected this to their PCRF solutions gain immediate benefits in terms of capacity optimisation. But, crucially, once the client is available, they can start to offer more sophisticated services that are based on clear visibility of what their customers are trying to do. This level of granularity can only be obtained by extending policy control to user devices.

Policy is evolving but this is the natural next step in that process. Once in place, operators will have a platform for rapid service innovation that can be used time and time again to deliver new capabilities. And that’s a key insight – once in place, device level policy control can be used for countless new services. In fact, we think it’s what is needed to ensure that policy really does evolve to deliver innovation at the service level.

Device level policy control will be the catalyst to unlock innovation and realise the full potential of the market – for the benefit of both operators and users alike. Why not talk to us to find out how we can help you reap these benefits?

[1] http://www.analysysmason.com/About-Us/News/Insight/Policy-based-charging-Nov2012/