Yesterday, Informa Telecoms and Media reported the volume of OTT messaging traffic is set to be twice that of P2P SMS messaging by the end of the year.
Informa also reported that nearly 19 billion chat app messages, from companies like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, were sent every day last year, as compared with 17.6 billion SMS texts.
While much of the consequent focus in the media was on whether the “cash cow” of text messaging is dying, the other side of the story is what impact “chatty apps” could have on operator networks.
As operators consider the unpredictable or “misbehaving” possibilities for these and other apps, they will want to more intelligently orchestrate and protect the subscriber experience. To protect the data plane and control plane, operators need network, subscriber, device and application awareness. They can no longer rely on congestion-mitigation strategies that force them to design networks for peak usage, leading to underutilization much of the time.
The better approach, they will find, will be to extend policy to the mobile device. Then, smartphones, tablets and other devices can become both enforcement points and application functions, thus opening up a world of new use cases that address:
• Network congestion management
• Application firewalling and security
• Application traffic scheduling
• Service continuity
• Battery life preservation
• Chargeable services and mobile payments
• Targeted mobile advertising
• Customer self care
These use cases are detailed in a new white paper, Policy On the Mobile, which describes how operators can move along the continuum from simple cost reduction to more sophisticated use cases for revenue generation, customer experience improvement, and network protection.
This continuum is particularly important given the mobile-social nature of today’s subscribers and the intricate relationships surrounding each subscriber – as individuals and as members of social networks.
Both negative and positive experiences resonate more quickly and more loudly than ever before. As a result, mobile operators have to address issues that disassociate their brands from what is becoming an increasingly intimate and positive mobile experience.
For example, smartphone users have an increasingly positive perception of mobile device manufacturers like Apple and Google, according to surveys done by J.D. Power and Associates and others. However, consumer satisfaction with mobile operators has declined enough that operators sit among the lowest-rated service providers in Consumer Reports ratings and other consumer-oriented ratings.
Subscribers have an increasingly positive perception of their smartphones’ operating systems, applications, processing speeds and video/camera quality, and yet an increasingly negative perception of their network performance, data download speeds and customer service.
Well founded or not, the perception of operator brands, and more importantly, future revenues, will be hard to ignore. Subscribers will increasingly demand the “ideal” of solid voice connections, ever-faster data speeds and world-class customer service. The closer operators come to that ideal, the more likely customers will be loyal and purchase future services.
Policy as an ‘Innovation Engine’
As operators transform from where they are today toward roles as “digital-lifestyle providers,” they have to make decisions about what underlying network and management technologies they need, and what they can retool. They have to become more dynamic, opening their networks to leverage social media, entertainment, rewards programs, mobile advertising, and mobile commerce partners.
Rather than embark on enormous rip-and-replace projects, operators can achieve new goals using what they already have, and without a huge cost. By simply elevating policy’s role from monthly quota and fair-use management to boundaries beyond the core network, operators can set the stage for “Policy Everywhere,” through which operators begin to improve network, device and application performance, as well as create new services.
With Policy Everywhere, policy is applied globally across networks, devices and applications.
The number of policy enforcement points will mushroom, and policy will become more centrally defined within an intelligent control layer – one that is independent of the underlying network infrastructure.
Tekelec customers, for example, have an integrated Mobile Policy Gateway (MPG) approach where policy is taken directly to the device through a management interface that is turnkey and inexpensive.
It fills in the gaps currently left by the 3GPP’s Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF), the new standard that enables Wi-Fi offload. It is a solid first step, but currently stops short of immediately addressing issues clouding the customer experience.
The MPG enables operators to infuse the best of what the ANDSF offers with the time-to-market advantages of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) solution.
With MPG, operators build a unified policy creation environment through which real-time dynamic policy enforcement can be extended to devices, and through which they expand the capabilities of Wi-Fi offload use cases and invite altogether new use cases.
By using existing policy provisioning and management interfaces and tools, operators can create network and device policies from the same platform. They can reduce the chance of policy conflict and increase the scalability and flexibility of their existing policy servers (PCRFs) and the Diameter Signaling Routers (DSRs) which route signaling messages to these servers.
MPG addresses those goals by extending the reach of policy and establishing direct links to policy servers and end-user devices over a Diameter interface. That enables the devices to interoperate and act as an integrated policy solution.
The resulting holistic framework we call the Tekelec Policy Solution, as the Policy Server and Mobile Policy Gateway combine so that policy treats the device as both an enforcement point and an application function, giving mobile operators the ability to enforce policy wherever needed.
Within the Tekelec Policy Solution, the MPG also complements existing technologies, such as deep packet inspection (DPI), filling in the gaps in policy coverage. A DPI, for example, cannot identify all applications, especially if data is encrypted. With the MPG, operators evolve from a policy architecture covering just the network to one where they gain end-to-end control over the entire application flow.
To find out more about 8 new use cases and how MPG leverages what you already have in place, read Policy On the Mobile. Also, visit our Diameter Learning Center at LinkedIn.