Tuesday, 9 March 2010

How Heavily Will Policy Control Feature in the Operators' LTE Strategy?

Operators planning to deploy LTE are looking for intelligent traffic management systems as well as ways to create a more personalised service for users in an increaslingly competitive market. As the mobile operators find themselves dealing with growing volumes of data traffic, new applications and services on the network on top of pressured margins, operators have seen that providing a bigger pipe with the introduction of LTE may not be enough. Policy control and its role in service and subscriber management, has emerged as one of the key talking points in the telecoms industry in the past year.

There have been a flurry of telecoms software companies offering (to use the 3GPP terminology) Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) which is a central point for managing network infrastructure costs and enabling subscribers to enjoy a wide variety of services and a high quality experience. The Policy Controller can also be deployed in conjunction with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) solutions.

Companies such as Starent, Bridgewater Systems, Camiant, Blueslice Networks, Sandvine and Allot Communications are just some of the companies that have landed deals with large operators.

However, some operators think that introducing tiered pricing will go a long way to deliver enhanced user experience for customers that are willing to pay more for mobile broadband. The Head of OSS from Telenor in Norway said recently at Informa's Broadband Traffic Management conference that operators should keep it simple and LTE should be able to manage all the data traffic that operators will have on thier networks in the next few years.

Is keeping it simple, the best way to managing the network? With the expectation that there will be a vast number of different services that are available on the network, perhaps a more sophisticated solution is necessary. However, after simplifing the network in order to reduce latency, is adding the policy control feature like going backwards and bringing back more complexity into the network?

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