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Policy Control in the ‘Now Economy’

April 13, 2017 9:00 AM

Category: Policy Control | by Manmohan Thampi

I was heading to the Annual Policy Control Conference – the only dedicated forum for Policy Control (PCRF) – and a forum where all PCRF players participate in sessions to promote the evolution of policy management software and its importance in the ‘Now Economy’. While at the airport in Bangalore waiting for my flight to Europe, I received a message offering 3GB of high speed data free of charge – a reward for being a frequent traveler. This was an excellent offer and an example of how sophisticated policy control solutions have become in recent years, but it also highlights how communications service providers are now proactive in their approach towards engaging customers. 

The ‘Now Economy’ is important as it is changing the way communication service providers (CSPs) engage their customers. It is already prompting changes to the operating structure and the type of service offerings offered by CSPs. The ‘Now Economy’ is all about instant and immediate actions, for example, Uber allows customers to instantly request a ride, track the status of the arriving vehicle and even know the approximate price before using the service. For CSPs, the ‘Now Economy’ means the need for greater digital innovation to capture and create value for consumers in real-time. The ability to offer applications that manage or enhance existing services are now a way to create differentiation - and policy control is an increasingly important part of this change.

Over the Top (OTT) services are an integral part of the ‘Now Economy’ and have already disrupted many existing markets. It was no surprise that OTT took center stage for majority of the first day of the Policy Control Conference. The discussion covered data sponsoring, data gifting, QOS differentiation per service and pay-per-application – all ways to drive data monetization as the world quickly transforms from a ‘digital hesitant’ to a ‘digital hungry’ economy. It was during this session that I had the chance to present my views on the topic of OTT interoperability and how to create a win-win scenario for all, including the need for operators to transform from a traditional CSP into a Digital Service Provider (DSP). Redknee now has sophisticated solutions to address these challenges, as CSPs transform into DSPs. In fact, we recently filed a patent for a Redknee OTT partnership that allows the operator to offer a ‘Network as a Voucher’ service to OTT providers and MVNOs. The concept raised interest across a number of groups with many conference delegates visiting me at the booth throughout the conference.

On day two, the focus shifted to network slicing in 5G and PCRF in our connected future. These themes incorporate aspects of IoT, NFV/SDN and Smart Data Analytics, and their role in the future of policy control. The common agreement was that Policy Control will play a key role for 5G and IoT, and will likely be the ‘brain of the network’ leveraging traditional control of QoS to control of radio technologies, dynamic slice selection, subscriber steering and more.

The conference was a successful event, with lively industry discussions about new technologies, fresh insights and innovative use cases. The role of policy continues to be integral to our future as our increasingly connected and global world demands more from CSPs and continues to evolve the digital economy. The ability to utilize policy control applications will create new opportunities as the industry continues to adopt more complex digital and OTT service offerings and starts to create new lines of business or opportunities made possible by new technologies such as IoT, NFV/SDN and data analytics.

It is now time for me to sign off for another year, as I look forward to further evolving Redknee’s policy control solutions. I look forward to seeing you at the Policy Control event in 2018.