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Policy + charging

Policy Push for Telefónica UK

Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2 UK) is introducing a key Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) platform with the deployment of a Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) system from Tekelec. This is the first PCRF deployment for O2 UK, which has about 23 million customers. "We're looking to consolidate what we have and, in time, retire some of the older, specialized systems, including fair usage management platforms," the operator's mobile data product manager (networks), Tim Parker, tells Light Reading. This is "a significant investment for the U.K. business but we expect to see the benefit from being able to monetize mobile data and improving the customer experience," said Parker, who added that the O2 UK marketing team has a "wish list" of services it would like to offer once the new system is in place (details of which he couldn't share). Parker says the new platform will give O2 UK "a single location for management that will push policies and rules out to the network nodes." The upcoming launch of the operator's 4G services has been "a bit of a catalyst" for the deployment, which will start later this year and ramp up in 2014, but Parker notes that the ability to introduce new service features and customer experience management capabilities is relevant across O2 UK's existing 3G subscriber base. The PCRF platform comes with a Subscriber Profile Repository that will enable the operator's marketing team to developer more reactive and personalized offers, but Parker says that this is a more "real-time, reactive" system that will sit alongside, and share some data with, the operator's more "static" multi-purpose centralized customer databases. (And for those that recall, O2 UK had some problems with its Ericsson AB centralized user database in 2012 and eventually had to remove it. Parker notes that O2 UK now relies on upgraded home location registers (HLRs) for its central customer database functions. See O2 Boots Out Ericsson Server After Outages for more.) As with many key network and back office technology decisions, the PCRF purchasing process has taken some time. "We've been looking at this for a few years and have gone through an extensive procurement process. We have collaborated with the global Telefónica SA CTO team in Madrid, which helped us with a shortlist of vendors," which included the major network equipment vendors. So why Tekelec? The vendor is already a supplier of its policy server to a number of Telefónica group operators in Latin America so the vendor was already a trusted supplier. But that didn't make the vendor a dead cert for the U.K. deal. "From having a number of face-to-face meetings it was clear that Tekelec understood the O2 brand and that was important because we were looking for a strategic partner." Tekelec was also very easy company to work with through the various stages of the procurement process, added Parker. Why this matters
While policy control platforms have been deployed extensively during the past few years, and are regarded as strategically important for mobile data service providers, this shows there are still major greenfield accounts to be won. And this is a key account: O2 UK is a significant mobile player in the highly competitive UK market, where it is battling with Everything Everywhere Ltd. (EE) and Vodafone Group plc for high-end smartphone users. Landing this deal will certainly go down well with Oracle Corp., which is acquiring Tekelec. What's most interesting, though, is Parker's account of the decision-making process. There is much talk in the industry about how vendors can no longer just sell technology platforms and then leave the network operators to get on with it: The service providers genuinely want to find suppliers that can not only deliver the hardware and software but provide support and an understanding of their business requirements. And it seems that every part of the process counts, all the way to a smooth paperwork process. Delivering a better customer experience is obviously something that communications service providers are hoping to receive from their suppliers as well as provide to their paying customers. For more

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Gabriel Brown 5/21/2013 | 1:05:37 PM
re: Policy Push for Telefónica UK What the UK market is crying out for is shared data plans similar to VZW's Share Everything or AT&T's Mobile Share. It looks very much like UK operators are leaving money on the table right now.
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