Policy + charging

CTIA 2010: Telcordia Gets Personal With Policy

LAS VEGAS -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 -- Telcordia Technologies Inc. is trying to convince wireless service providers to think about using policy to give customers more control and to make services more personalized, and not just as a way to prioritize traffic and make networks more efficient.

Policy management tools are becoming increasingly important to operators' Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) strategies, with mobile operators in particular looking to manage their customers' consumption of data services with a combination of deep packet inspection (DPI) and policy control solutions. (See Policy Matters to Mobile Broadband Operators, MWC Preview: Policy Vendors Strut Their Stuff, and The SPIT Manifesto.)

Now Telcordia is promoting an expanded use for policy control capabilities. Instead of just trying to stuff the unlimited capacity genie back into the bottle, wireless operators should create incentives for customers to pay for the next generation of services in new, more rational ways, says Pat McCarthy, Telcordia's vice president of global marketing.

"We were into user policy solutions some time ago, but we used it for personalization," McCarthy says.

Customers such as the now-defunct Disney Mobile and a smaller player, Kajeet, used Telcordia's policy capabilities to let users personalize their mobile phone service via a Web portal, setting flexible time-of-day or per-call rules.

"Wireless service providers have to get customers to come to their portal, and no one does that today," states McCarthy.

Offering personalized services is just one way of drawing customers to a portal: There's also the option for premium content, and for real-time charging that lets customers manage credit limits and usage balances for post-paid services, McCarthy says.

"We want to get wireless service providers to re-think their portals and look at who their partners are."

The vendor's Bandwidth Manager, part of its Service Delivery Solutions portfolio, is a Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) software solution that enables differentiated service tiers and customized services, as well as handling real-time charging. (See Telcordia: Still a $700M+ Player.)

One possibility with real-time charging would be to create an account that is associated with a phone, separate from the service bill, says McCarthy. That account would enable individual users -- such as young people still on their parents' mobile plans -- to buy content with their own funds.

Structuring tiered services will make sense, but only as new bandwidth offerings can be added, he states. Rather than taking something away from customers, service providers should offer more to consumers willing to pay for it, and allow those who only want a best-effort, unlimited plan to remain in that service tier.

"It may be that customers all want to download videos for three hours during peak time," says McCarthy. "The idea is to engineer the networks and the business models that can make it worthwhile to let them do that."

Smart marketing can devise new approaches, and the move to new technology and bandwidth plans, as well as more personalized services and premium content, offers the opportunity for such approaches to come to market, preaches McCarthy.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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