taking policy to the
smart connected device

Archive for June, 2013

Extending the CDN – How Policy on Smart Devices Can Enable Telcos to Add Value

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

Speakers at the recent Mobile Video Optimisation event in Berlin agreed that the mobile cell is the next critical area for delivering high quality video services. At this point in the mobile network, the lowest common denominator rules. And yet, analysts are united in their predictions that mobile video consumption will enjoy spectacular growth – the only debate concerns the rate.

But if this growth is to be enjoyed with the quality of experience levels demanded by users, the network has to evolve to cope. At present, OTT video providers either leverage their own CDNs or form partnerships with specialist providers. Telcos that are entering the fray are building their own ‘telco CDNs’ or partnering with other providers. The point of the CDN is to bring content closer to the user, to reduce traffic across the network or the complexities of server connectivity. This is fine as far as it goes, but it still leaves the delivery subject to the conditions in the last mile or in the RAN.

There are a number of ways in which content delivery can be optimised for users in the RAN. One such that has attracted considerable attention is WiFi offload – many mobile subscribers automatically connect to WiFi networks as soon as they find one and MNOs can leverage this in several ways. By offloading bulk data delivery to WiFi networks, MNOs can save costs and, where the WiFi network offers a higher bandwidth connection than is available in the RAN, they can deliver a better user experience.

There are also moves afoot to bring content servers directly to the base stations as well as proposals to implement caching on user devices so that content can be delivered more economically, intelligently and efficiently. Such an approach can provide optimised pre-loading of user targeted content (either through promotions tied to analysis of viewer behaviour and viewing patterns) or based on explicit preferences that are expressed by the user. Either way, off-peak delivery and use of WiFi networks can be leveraged to reduce content delivery costs.

Extending policy enforcement and monitoring to smart devices enables policies to be established to enhance user experience where they are needed – on user devices where content is actually experienced – while, at the same time, remaining fully integrated with the overall network policy control and analytics framework. Although this remains some way off, there’s no question that smart devices will have a crucial role to play in managing video content delivery and optimising the user experience.

Given the growth forecast for video traffic and despite advances in network coverage and bandwidth due to the rollout of LTE, technologies such as adaptive bitrate codecs and high definition video present challenges. Adaptive bitrate is, by definition, unpredictable and MNOs cannot easily predict consumption. It’s even more difficult with capped mobile data plans, as the user may not be aware that changes to the codec may consume more of their allowance mid-session. However, this opens up the potential for increased dynamic control of bearer connections for real-time content delivery and increased bandwidth on a per session or mid-session basis. If more bandwidth is required for HD, then mechanisms need to be in place to provide such capacity and to inform the user if this has an impact on their data plans. This can be achieved more effectively and efficiently once policy monitoring and enforcement is available on smart devices.

Extending policy control functions to devices is essential in a world in which video traffic dominates mobile data consumption. Local caching will depend on close integration with policy engines to control delivery, charging and consumption monitoring – as well as quality. MNOs need to consider how to address this issue now to plan for the growth in consumption so that they pre-empt these issues. As has been proven time and time again with migrations to higher-bandwidth technologies, once LTE is available, users will find ways to consume more data – and MNOs need to be ready to support this at all levels.

Of course, MNOs will capitalise on such measures, but they also present opportunities to forge partnerships with other CDN providers. Since telcos and MNOs effectively dominate in the last mile (or cell), they are uniquely placed to provide solutions that can help CDNs as mobile video consumption gathers pace.

Why not talk to GoS Networks and find out how integrating policy enforcement and monitoring to smart devices can help manage and enhance the mobile video experience?

The Growing Importance of #WiFi in Mobile Data Management

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

According to research published by Informa Telecoms and Media, an increasing proportion of mobile data traffic is carried over WiFi access. This is something that has been recognised in a number of reports – including the famed Cisco VNI. Informa’s data suggests that in the UK, WiFi traffic from smartphones exceed data carried over mobile networks by a factor of 4:1. Globally, Cisco reports that WiFi offload traffic accounted for 33% of all mobile data in 2012 – and that this will rise to 46% by 2017.

We can explore the factors behind this in another post, but the results and forecasts have clear implications. First, user behaviour strongly suggests that migration to WiFi is inevitable, irrespective of the quality of the 3GPP access type available: even with LTE, users are likely to want to use WiFi. This may change, but it’s a challenge today and, even once LTE becomes ubiquitous, there’s no indication that this behaviour will change.

Secondly, mobile operators must recognise this and take advantage of the fact. While today it can be advantageous to offload from 3GPP mobile access to WiFi, as it moves traffic (ultimately) to fixed connections, the mobile operator is not involved in this choice. Similarly, nomadic mobile users, logging into hotspots when they reach a destination or venue are migrating to other networks without any mediation from their mobile provider.

How and should MNO’s be involved in this process?

MNO’s have the ability to provide ‘seamless’ roaming with WiFi networks, as they do with other mobile networks today. This can enable a better user experience by removing the need for credit card payments for access to WiFi, or signing up through ‘splash’ pages with personal data in exchange for ‘Free’ WiFi access. This seamless roaming can be secured through the use of authentication of both the device and the user by using the same subscriber identity module (SIM) as is used for authentication on the mobile network.

In addition, this seamless experience can be enhanced by providing service continuity through technology such as mobile IP to ensure existing sessions such as voice communications and video streaming are not interrupted during handover between networks.

Quality of user experience can also be provided by dynamically reviewing the performance of the connected network and making policy decisions on the device: for example, whether or not to remain connected to the WiFi network to cater for highly congested WiFi networks.

Secure service over 3rd party WiFi can also be provided through the use of encryption of the data session provided and secured by the SIM credentials in the same way as mobile data is today. This ensures that mobile financial transactions and account access performed over the WiFi network are as secure as those over the mobile network.

The need for such solutions is clear – and it’s now becoming equally clear that users need such capabilities to be available on their devices. Since the lowest common denominator in any service is the last mile (or in this case, the RAN), MNOs need to move the management of access network selection into smart connected devices, enabling per session management of network connectivity.

Why not talk to GoS Networks and discover how our unique distributed ANDSF solution can help MNOs improve user experience of mobile data management?

#OTT Partnerships Need End-to-End #QoS Guarantees. #PolicyControl #Telecom

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

There has been considerable speculation about the relationship between traditional network operators and OTT service providers who leverage their networks without incurring the cost of using them. To some, the innovative solutions provided by OTT players creates value and demand, which drives usage of the network infrastructure: without these services, demand would be less, so network operators wouldn’t have a reason to invest in providing optimised access and transport networks.

On the other hand, many network operators have expressed reservations regarding the, effectively free access that OTTs have to their network subscribers and wonder if there ought to be arrangements for payment of rent.

It’s an evolving situation and, to date, there have only been a few cases of business relationships between OTT providers and network operators. However this may be changing. One of the aces in the hand of the network operators is quality of service. They are the only stakeholders in a position to deliver end-to-end quality of service guarantees. Since QoS is a key pillar of the overall customer experience management challenge, this could be an attractive means to create new business models.

Recently, the CEO of a leading OTT messaging player was quoted as saying he was very interested in ways in which a network operator could optimise their network to prioritise messaging traffic for their OTT application and users – and that they would be prepared to do it.

Does this mean that other OTT players are thinking the same? It’s too early to tell – but if end-to-end QoS guarantees can make a difference to their service for particular user groups, it’s quite likely that they will do so.

If they do, then the network operator must be able to guarantee and support end-to-end service levels – and that means that they must take steps to effectively deliver this.

For such arrangements to work, network operators have to be able to deliver on end-to-end service guarantees. They have to extend policy capabilities to smart devices, which are the principal consumers of OTT traffic.

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 optimised policy control. In addition, the improved visibility of what the user experiences ensures the correct policy can be applied under control of the PCRF, allowing MNOs to optimise user Quality of Experience in real-time and for different application demands.

Device-based PCEF is the only way in which MNOs can accurately measure and manage the user Quality of 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.

In addition, the GoS Agent can expose policy capabilities directly to the OTT application on the smartphone, enabling the provider to leverage capabilities supported by the network across which they are delivering services. The OTT provider would be able to access co-ordinated policy control, both for upstream and downstream traffic, enriching the user experience.

This architecture enables GoS 360° to provide a highly scalable platform based on future-proof investment supporting a wide range of use cases, as opposed to delivering a dedicated application per solution – in other words, with GoS 360°, network operators can create innovative business partnerships with OTT providers and monetise demand for better and richer services.