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The Evolving World Of Policy Control

April 19, 2016 10:59 PM

Category: Policy Control Subscriber Analytics | by Manmohan Thampi

Earlier this month I attended the 6th Annual Policy Control Conference in Berlin, the only event dedicated to Policy Control in the world. This year it was an exciting event that looked towards the future, with discussions centered on the evolution of the policy landscape to 2020, and new use cases focusing on service enablement and subscriber intelligence. From the opening remarks it became clear that the future for Policy Control is bright. There was significant discussion around the role of Policy Management software and its increasing importance in the network domain, the shift from “pure PCRF to Policy Management”, and the role of policy in the evolution of next generation networks (NGN).

As an event sponsor Redknee provided the Networking Tool, enabling the policy community to come together to share experiences, learn about industry trends, and discuss opportunities and new developments. Importantly, as we considered the future of policy, Redknee participated in a panel discussion related to OTT interoperability, and how this can create a win-win situation, touching upon best practices for content network partnerships and revenue sharing models. The forum was an opportunity for industry representatives to ask vendors to address some of these needs and contribute to the development of the market. 

Over the course of the two-day conference, other topics of discussion included data and analytics and how they can help build new use cases and campaigns to better support marketing activities, the customer and user experience. The discussions showed that many organizations are starting to realize the value of data, and therefore the Policy Control data core needs to effectively leverage data from various sources such as IMS, BSS stack, network and the EPC. It’s clear that policy solutions can bring much of the needed revenue for operators and generate more value for the business and subscribers. The conference also touched upon new technologies such as 5G and the opportunities this brings including network slicing and the extension of service chaining to the policy domain in software defined networks (SDN). As part of recent discussions on service chaining Redknee was fortunate enough to demonstrate how we can support service chaining and dynamic traffic steering at Mobile World Congress

While I found the industry discussions and forums to be beneficial, the conference also provided the opportunity to hear from network operators from around the world including Etisalat, Turkcell, Vodafone, Magticom, Bell Canada, AT&T, MTS, TELUS, Swisscom, and BT, to understand the challenges they face and what they want from the next generation of policy products. Notably, many of the operators were interested in cloud and network function virtualization (NFV) as they start to delve into the virtualization of certain functions and using cloud to add greater flexibility to their operations. While a large number have started to think, test or even implement some cloud and NFV functions, policy was not often included despite being a core component in the management of their services. As a result, many were interested to hear about Redknee’s latest release of Redknee PCS and its new cloud and NFV functionality, as well as hearing about our experience supporting communications service providers (CSPs) in becoming cloud and NFV ready. It’s apparent that the agility and efficiency of cloud and NFV technologies will soon create competitive advantages as business models and services evolve. For operators wanting to maintain competitiveness in the long-term, cloud and NFV will become increasingly important for many core operations even when reviewing other areas such as service and application centric networks, efficient traffic management and opportunities in emerging markets. 

Overall it is an exciting time in the policy sector, with a greater focus on developing the infrastructure and systems to support the new use cases, services and business models of the future. Policy management will become more important as it remains integral to the management of services such VoLTE, SDN, service chaining and IoT use cases, which continue to develop and are setting the stage for the next generation of policy needs.