North American operators lag behind other markets in value-added policy management capabilities

November 1, 2010 - Openet

As part of its Continuous Research Service (CRS) series of analyst reports and surveys about the next-gen OSS and policy market, Infonetics Research recently published a global service provider survey on “Policy Server Deployment Strategies.”

After talking to 25 telecom service providers representing 23% of the world's telecom CAPEX ($66 billion) and 28% of worldwide telecom revenue, it was discovered that North American operators are still somewhat conservative in their use of PCRF and policy as compared to operators in EMEA (particularly Western Europe), Asia Pacific, and Central and Latin America.

“When you look at the fact, for example, that parents in the Middle East have the ability to not only turn off text messaging, but to have that shut-off point automatically change day to day with the hour of prayer [which is dependent on the sun’s position], then you start to see just how tailored and personalized services can get,” said analyst Shira Levine, Infonetics Next Gen OSS and Policy. She attributes the more aggressive use of policy in other regions of the world—particularly the Middle East and Southeast Asia—to the different requirements from an ARPU standpoint. “In North America, operators are very focused on things like their LTE deployments, whereas in other regions of the world, there is an immediate need for differentiated capabilities that increase ARPU through premium services that help them build a name in a really competitive emerging market,” said Levine. She believes the turning point will correlate to a pain point in North America, where innovation beyond “content blocking” will be needed to personalize content services enabled by PCRF capabilities.

More and more, you do hear companies like Tekelec, Bridgewater, Openet, Redknee, Volubill and Broadhop touting the “value adds” that come with their policy wares, but so far the audience seems to be in up-and-coming markets. “This poses a challenge for the vendors, who have to market their products differently according to the mindset of the specific region they are in,” said Levine. “They sometimes have to market just the PCRF for traffic management type capabilities, but then in other areas talk of the applications and additional service capabilities that can be leveraged from that specific technology.”

While traffic management (particularly in mobile broadband) remains a key driver behind policy management deployments in North America, Levine believes operators will be pushed in the not-too-distant future to monetize their networks with tiered services and subscriber control capabilities. As evidenced in the survey, about 20% of respondent operators’ IT organizations “own” policy management. But as marketing works to integrate more with IT, then marketing needs may drive momentum toward using PCRF for value-add services—not only for individuals and families, but also for enterprises seeking more controls and capabilities for their knowledge workers and work forces.


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