taking policy to the
smart connected device

Posts Tagged ‘#sexybilling’

#MWC12 Tiered Data Plans to Drive ARPU – But End to End Control is Essential

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

The future of “all you can eat” data plans has been discussed for some time. According to some analysts, many MNOs are considering ending such generous packages. Some have already launched new, tiered data plans and others will surely follow.

Recent analysis suggests that a critical element of such data plans will be the delivery of new premium services that command and justify a higher price. By breaking the relationship between fees and network connectivity, MNOs can move towards charging for delivering high quality and higher value services.

But to do so – and to ensure the quality of service that users will expect – requires a true end-to-end approach to managing service delivery. MNOs will have to ensure that premium services obtain the priority that they need. Real-time, end-to-end monitoring and control of user demand and consumption is essential.

The issue is not without controversy. Users have become concerned about privacy issues and there are worries that monitoring will prove to be invasive. That’s not necessarily the case. What are needed are solutions that are able to identify traffic for the purposes of optimisation, but which do not gather personal or identifiable information.

All of that is possible with the deployment of specialist client-side solutions, which do not collect or store any private information. Without taking into account activity on client devices, MNOs will be unable to guarantee end-to-end application performance. By deploying such solutions, MNOs can profitably manage and optimise data services according to the needs of individual customers.

As some move to tiered and premium data plans, MNOs will be able to ensure they both deliver the service levels expected and provide the reassurance customers seek regarding privacy. MNOs are in a unique position to be a trusted service partner, avoiding any of the adverse publicity that has surrounded some OTT players.

#MWC Quality of Service is Now a Key Differentiator for MNOs

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

According to recent news, Quality of Service (QoS) is now a key differentiator for MNOs. While coverage has long been viewed as critical to subscriber satisfaction, analyst and consulting firm Ovum found that, increasingly, operators and vendors see QoS as a differentiator.

This isn’t surprising. Rapid growth in data consumption has placed strains on the network, but today’s subscribers expect more than simply connectivity. The performance of applications they consume is becoming more and more important. This may become a factor in churn to rival networks, if packages and offers based around performance or QoS levels can be created to tempt frustrated users.

MNOs need to consider how to use QoS in conjunction with innovative pricing to ensure that they increase their differentiation. Because they own the network, MNOs are in a good position to achieve this, but it will take more than simply bandwidth or taking action in the core. MNOs need to deploy solutions that can optimise the user experience directly from their devices. End-to-end QoS begins with the user device, not the base station.

Any focus on QoS as a differentiator needs to be backed by the tools to make it possible. Without such capabilities, any plan to offer enhanced QoS guarantees to customers will be flawed – which will have completely the opposite of the intended effect, driving customers to MNOs which do manage to fully deliver end-to-end QoS guarantees.

Is the integration of Policy and Charging inevitable? #BSSOSS #sexybilling

Written by GoS on . Posted in News

An interesting article on Connected Planet asks two important questions. First, is the integration of policy and charging inevitable? Secondly – and more interestingly – is it necessary?

The article is prompted by new figures from Infonetics, which forecast 50% growth in the market for policy software management solutions in 2011. That’s impressive and, if accurate, suggests the keen interest the topic has aroused is being translated into real revenue.

Policy management is simply the process by which service providers ensure that customers obtain the services to which they are entitled. But, it’s also a way to enable service providers to offer additional services, perhaps triggered by past activity or other data points they collect about subscribers. It’s this second aspect that is leading many to conclude the advanced policy mechanisms could be essential to the future success of service providers, as it would enable more creative billing plans to be created and activated.

In this respect, charging is fundamental. If my billing plan gives me a 100Mb download allowance and I wish to exceed this, then the service provider would need to be able to recognise that my quota has been exceeded, determine how I pay (online / offline) and give me the option to buy more data. Or, stop me accessing data until the next month. Depending on my decision, the new allowance would need to be added to my account until the next billing period or it is depleted, at which point, the whole process begins again.

Policy can’t just be a means to determine that a customer obtains the requisite services. It is an integral element of the overall service delivery and management architecture. The question of whether it should have deeper integration with charging is redundant. It’s all part of the same thing – evolving networks to ensure that service providers can offer more flexible, more dynamic packages that are more in tune with the changing demands of users.

As contributor Michael Manzo of Openet comments later in the article, “policy, charging – and a third element, which let’s call real time customer profile management – are absolutely, inextricably intertwined infrastructure capabilities.”

Exactly so. It’s part of a holistic approach to services that will also require a deeper understanding of the real customer experience. While technically we may need to consider the different elements involved in the architecture, from a business perspective, it’s all about ensuring that the ambition – let’s say to be able to offer differentiated, targeted services that can change and that can be monetised – can actually be achieved. Policy, charging, DPI and device-level visibility and control are all elements that will help underpin this revolution. Each is necessary, but none will be sufficient on its own – and that’s the real lesson. Integration? It’s not only inevitable, but critical. Without it, the ambition will remain just that.