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3GPP Release 16 and what this means for 5G – Part 2

May 14, 2020 - Alan McNamee

Alan McNamee, looks at how operators can charge and build new business models using Release 16 features.

As highlighted in last week’s blog Release 16 will have a significant impact on 5G.  Enhancements and new capabilities provide the opportunity for operators to develop new business models and services. How they monetise these new 5G opportunities is dependent on how charging works. To this end the Charging group in 3GPP have also been very busy preparing for the release 16 freeze date. The group has work streams to address the charging aspects of the Release 16 features. The following is a summary of the on-going release 16 charging work:

Charging for 5GC interworking with EPC

This work completes the charging aspects of 5GC interworking with EPC, based 3PP TS 23.501 and TS 23.502 specifications.

Offline Only Charging Service

The introduction of a new Nchf Offline Only Charging service for the charging of 5G data services.

5G Network Exposure Charging

This work specifies converged charging for the Network Exposure Function (NEF) Northbound APIs.

AMF Charging

Release 16 has introduced charging associated with functionalities supported by the AMF which are specified in TS 23.501, TS 23.502, and TS 23.503. There are 3 areas covered by AMF charging:

·        Registration management

·        Connection management

·        Location reporting

Network Slice Performance and Analytics Charging

 

Network Slice performance and analytics based charging based charging interactions with the Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) and OAM performance management services.

Network Slice Management Charging

Charging for Network Slice Instance NSI allocation, modification and deallocation. This is based on interactions with an OAM network slice provisioning service e.g. within an NSMF.

CHF-controlled quota management

Adds the ability for a CHF able to instruct an SMF to suspend and to resume quota management for a particular rating group.

Charging Aspect for 5WWC

Adds support for the charging aspects related to 5G enabled wireline access networks.

Charging aspects of ETSUN

Adds support for charging related to the topology enhancement for flexible deployment of SMFs and UPFs described above.

Charging aspects of Access Traffic Steering, Switch and Splitting

This work specifies the charging aspects for the support of Access Traffic Steering, Switching and Splitting (ATSSS) in the 5G. It enables charging for Multi Access-PDU (MA-PDU) sessions over one 3GPP access and one non-3GPP access.

 

New Business Models enabled for operators by Release 16

It is anticipated that Release 16 will be an opportunity for new verticals to embrace the capabilities of the 5G network. New verticals will need to be charged differently than the traditional subscriber based consumption models of previous releases.

For example for IoT type scenarios the value may be based on the number of connected devices, or the location from where the devices connect to the network, or even the mobility profile associated with a particular device. The new AMF related charging features in Release 16 will be useful in enabling charging for these types of scenarios.

Other verticals such as mission critical services or V2X type services will rely on application servers to interact with the 5G network through exposed network service enablers (i.e. via APIs). The new NEF related charging features in Release 16 will be useful in enabling charging for these types of scenarios.

As described in last week’s blog, one of the most important features of the 5G network is the Network Slicing feature and Release 16 has enhanced this feature. Operators are keen to be able offer Network Slices as service (NSaaS) in a B2B2X model as described in 3GPP TS 28.530 with the following figure:

 

There are potentially many actors (e.g. Communication Service Provider, Communication Service Customer, Network Operator) in the NSaaS ecosystem and the ability to offer, measure and charge for network slices requires new charging capabilities be delivered in Release 16.

The new charging architecture for NSaaS charging will be specified within TS 28.202. The architecture is not fully finalized at this stage but the current proposed architecture looks promising. It is depicted as follows:

The service producer is typically a 3GPP OAM Provisioning Management Service (MnS).

There are two scenarios covered by the architecture:

  1. A charging trigger function (CTF) is coupled with the MnS producer. The CTF directly consumes charging services of the CHF (highlighted in yellow above).
  2. An external eCTF interacts with both the MnS and CHF. The eCTF transfers network slicing management events to the CHF (highlighted in green above).

The deployment options for the above architecture is still under discussion in the 3GPP SA5 Charging group.

In summary there are a lot of new elements in 5G charging than ever before. Additional features like network slicing charging open new opportunities and novel ways for mobile operators to grow their business.

Alan McNamee

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