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What’s the future of policy?

By January 8, 2014 No Comments

Policy is increasingly used by the marketing and business side of an operator as well as the network side.  Most of the operators in a recent Heavy Reading  survey said that service innovation was the main reason for investing in policy management, with 75% saying that the bought policy to “help introduce new services, price plans and options”, while the remaining 25% see “managing network congestion” as the primarily use for policy. It’s not a case of either or, but both, as more network and marketing policy use cases get rolled out.

As for planned future uses of policy, the survey indicated increases in deployment in 2014 and 2015 for use cases such as shared usage plans, analytics, differential QoS and subscriber-level video optimization. Just a look at the success and roll out by operators of shared data plans and the increasing demand for real-time business intelligence would suggest these results are spot on.

But the problem is that an increasing number and sophistication of policy use cases may lead to more complicated policy environments which, according to Heavy Reading, “will test the capabilities of some policy platforms”. The survey underlines by highlighting the increased roll out of “next-generation use cases such as short-term passes, sponsored promotions, RAN congestion control and support for VoLTE”.

VoLTE is a good example of such a next gen use case and can be used to show the limitations of some current policy systems. Of the 80 operators survey, 60% said that they would need “to upgrade their PCRF to handle VoLTE” with 10% saying that even upgrades wouldn’t solve the problem and that they’d need to replace their PCRF to cater for VoLTE.

With policy management moving from niche to strategic, operators will be using policy to support more and more use cases. The survey reported that the average telecoms operators will be running 22 use cases by the end of 2016, and more that 75% of mobile operators said they would be running more than 25 policies by 2016.

The evolution of policy management from a niche network tool to a strategic business system underlines the increasing importance of real-time technology to drive the business tactics of operators and provide the foundation on which many marketing innovations are now built.

For details about this Heavy Reading survey, download the Heavy Reading White Paper: Policy Unbound: Virtualization, LTE & the Customer-Centric Network. This paper also contains insight into policy and analytics, integration of policy and charging, policy on the device, multi-network policies as well as the impact of SDN, virtualization and the cloud on policy.