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Policy isn’t just for mobile…

By June 1, 2016 No Comments

Speed throttling, fair usage, bill shock – terms that we associate with mobile are now making their way into the fixed line broadband market. When broadband was first introduced most operators had an unlimited deal plus a capped deal (usually about 50GB). But back then most people would struggle to use up 50GB. 

Then came Netflix.

And then came the bills. It was at this point that many customers called their broadband provider and said ‘I thought I was on an unlimited plan’. After a brief discussion they promptly upgraded their service to the more expensive unlimited deal. But unlike many of the plans network capacity is not unlimited. The result: we’re seeing more and more interest in policy use cases (that you’d typically associate with mobile) from fixed line broadband providers.

The low cost capped plans are still here. In the UK, BT offer packages with a 12 GB and 25GB monthly usage allowance. For many people who aren’t addicted to Netflix, and are occasional internet users these offers are perfectly well suited. If they go over their limit they can pay overage charges or have their speed throttled.

The volume of data usage shows no sign of abating. According to UK regulator, Ofcom, in the UK in 2013 the average broadband download speed was 18Mb/s and average monthly volume was 30GB. In 2014 speed was up to 23Mb/s and volume almost doubled to 58GB.

There is only one way these figures are going. This means that there will be increasing uses of ‘mobile like’ policy use cases in fixed line broadband operators. The increase in multi-play offers and roll out of new digital life services ranging from home security to healthcare is pushing up usage as broadband connectivity becomes a staple of many peoples’ lives. Also the increasing proliferation of Wi-Fi is blurring the lines between networks. In many cases, customers don’t know (or care) if they’re on fixed or mobile broadband as long as they’re getting the service they expect and there is no bill shock.

This blurring the lines between fixed and mobile and the move to become digital service providers is helping to drive the need for fixed line operators to implement policy use cases that were once the preserve of mobile operators.

Faster network speeds matched by the vociferous appetite for video and other high speed services means that customers are looking for a consistent experience regardless of service or network used. To ensure QoS (quality of service) across different networks for multiple services, fixed line and multi-play operators are increasingly looking to policy control. Indeed, we may see more innovation come from multi-play operators as this offers more opportunities for marketing to be creative as there are more elements to be managed. Policy can play a major role in the development, marketing and delivery of multi-play offers. Service entitlements, parental controls, application based offers, shared services and QoS pricing are just some examples of the use cases that enable marketing to differentiate their offers and provide segmented and personalized propositions.

Policy control started in mobile as a network control tool. This was to implement fair usage policies when mobile data was provided on an all-you-can-eat basis. The second evolution of policy came when it developed into a marketing enablement solution. This provided the tools on which to develop tiered services, shared data, service passes and many more marketing led use cases. Now as operators are embracing multi-play and rolling out new digital services we’re seeing the start of the third evolution of policy.

Download Openet’s white paper Policy in a Multi-Play, Multi-Network World here