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Policy + charging

Policy's Integration Rift

Policy management is experiencing significant traction amongst mobile operators worldwide as they look to cope with data traffic congestion on their networks, but the sector is still divided about the best way to take policy control to the next level and link it with service providers' charging capabilities. (See Policy & DPI: $1B Spree, But No Picnic for Vendors.)

So says Heavy Reading Chief Analyst Graham Finnie, a policy control sector specialist who is set to moderate the Policy & Revenue Management Summit at the upcoming Management World show in Dublin.

When it comes to the deployment of systems that will enable operators to develop more sophisticated and granular application-specific services, "the link between policy and charging is a hot topic and a controversial one. That's because you have companies such as Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) and Comverse Inc. (Nasdaq: CNSI) that have developed and are pushing integrated solutions [policy plus charging] and those such as Tekelec that believe a standalone solution, which can then be integrated with the billing/charging system of the operator's choice, is the better option," says the analyst. (See Amdocs Unveils Data Experience Offering and Comverse Opens Policy Studio for Data Plan Creation.)

"Heavy Reading surveys of operators during the past two years have shown that the integration of policy management and charging engines has been a problem and a barrier to deployment," mostly due to a lack of mature standards, adds Finnie. (See Mobile Ops Want Plug-and-Play Policy Servers.)

It hasn't been such a barrier that policy systems aren't being deployed: A recent market study by Finnie showed that the policy server market grew by more than 50 percent in 2011 to be worth almost $490 million and will increase in value by almost 40 percent this year. (See Policy Specialists Squeezed by Vendor Giants.)

Most deployments, though, are of standalone policy servers that are not yet linked to charging systems, while there have been few deployments so far of the integrated solutions. "But it's early days yet," notes Finnie, who says there's work being done to help standardize the links between the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) and charging engines as well as between the PCRF and subscriber databases. (See Context Is King.)

Policy is not the only Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) niche that Finnie will focus on during the Dublin show. "Another key area to watch out for is analytics. I'll be looking to see what vendors are offering on the show floor," says the analyst. (See From Revenue Assurance to Revenue Optimization, Belgacom Analyzes Customer Experience With Teradata, Video Quality Isn't Hot Air for Wind Mobile, Key Attributes of Next-Gen SPIT Systems and SNA Brings the Customer Closer.)

You can get all the pre-event insights and show floor news at our special Management World 2012 Show Site.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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