Data Surge Fuels Policy Control Boom
But those policy servers -- key elements in a carrier's Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) arsenal -- aren't just going to be used by network operators to apply network and subscriber usage rules that alleviate network congestion. (See The SPIT Manifesto.)
According to research conducted by Heavy Reading, operators aim to use their policy platforms to develop new charging models and develop tiers of services, so they can move away from the flat-rate mobile data models that currently prevail.
Heavy Reading surveyed more than 70 network operators to ask them what prompted their decision to deploy a policy server, or Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) as they are also known.
While more than 80 percent rated the option "Enable us to apply 'fair use' management techniques to better handle network congestion" as either critical or important, 80 percent also cited "Enable us to offer tiered or customized services to different classes of customers, or to individual customers" as either critical or important, while more than 75 percent picked out "Improve our ability to meter and charge customers for service features and attributes" as either critical or important. (See Policy Control Key to Personalized Services .)
And almost the same number identified a policy server's ability to help carriers "improve quality and depth of network traffic and applications reporting and analysis" as either critical or important.
Graham Finnie, Heavy Reading's chief analyst, says the key to making the most of a policy server's capabilities is the ability to be able to change policy conditions/rules without requiring the vendor to rework the server's code, and to have it interconnected with a number of other key network and SPIT elements, such as a Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) (and/or next-generation mobile packet core platforms), deep packet inspection (DPI) platforms, mobile Internet gateways, performance management systems, and subscriber data management (SDM) systems.
The ability to use policy servers in a number of different ways -- improving network efficiency, boosting customer experience levels, and potentially increasing ARPU and margin levels -- means carriers are spending more on policy management capabilities. (See Tekelec Boasts Policy Control Deals, Elitecore Boasts Policy Control Wins, BroadHop Boasts New Customers, Volubill Touts Policy Deals , Bridgewater Wins Major Euro Deal, and Openet Touts Stellar Growth.)
Infonetics Research Inc. estimates the market will be worth US$471 million this year, and continue growing to be worth $1.6 billion by 2014.
That's good news for vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Bridgewater Systems Corp. (Toronto: BWC), BroadHop Inc. , Comptel Corp. (Nasdaq, Helsinki: CTL1V), Digital Route, Elitecore Technologies Ltd. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Nokia Networks , Openet Telecom Ltd. , Redknee Inc. (Toronto TSX: RKN), Tekelec (which recently acquired Camiant), and Volubill , all of which have policy control capabilities to sell to the carriers. (See Tekelec Splashes $165M on SPIT Specialists.)
For the next few months you can follow developments from this industry sector at our Policy Management Briefing Center at www.lightreading.com/policy-management. Light Reading