Policy Control has spent too long on the sidelines. This week, the 7th edition of the Policy Control event took place in Berlin. While I am usually in attendance at this event, this year I couldn’t make it, but I was asked to judge this year’s awards. The process got me thinking about the challenges both operators and vendors are facing in this tight but important space.
It seems Policy Control, Charging, DPI and friends have been with us forever, but we are probably just approaching the 20-year mark as an industry. The communications market has gone through waves of innovation and the operator of today is not the same as it once was.
Back in the day, when I was starting out, the biggest problem on the networks were the “Bandwidth Hogs” – those P2P rogues sucking the life out of the network. Back then, in the pre-iPhone days, mobile operators didn’t really know what the internet even was. When you told them the data Tsunami was coming, they tried to determine exactly how many SMS’s would be considered a Tsunami. Little did they know what was around the corner.
Over the last twenty years or so, the only things that have been consistent has been disruption, sliding ARPU and consolidation, both operator and vendor. As internet access and bandwidth has become commoditized, operators and vendors alike have been struggling to shore up the dam or a least monetize the flow as it burst forth. Have we done the job?
The PCC niche and its smaller friends have often struggled for their own identity? In a virtualized world, with software top of the heap, is now the time for PCC? The current pace of innovation is staggering.
Just check out some of the issues operators are currently dealing with:
- Cloud and virtualization are bringing innovation with virtual service chaining, spinning up PCC/DPI/TDF where and when required, speed and agility, but it doesn’t come for free
- 5G on the horizon with billions of connections, massive amounts of bandwidth, and network slicing
- IoT is going gang busters, with billions of devices connected and who know how operators can manage and monetize it
- Video and VR – 3D video, 360 video, 4K, 8K, UHD AR, VR and Immersive Realties. There will be no shortage of traffic for next generation networks
- The regulatory environment seems to be shifting by the day, while the industry has now been struggling with the shadow on net neutrality for years, we seem to be further from closure than ever
- OTT traffic just keeps coming. Operators can’t predict it, they can just react. Some have managed to shorten reaction times and have reaped rewards
- Cyber security is a constant concern. The Mirai events of last year are surely but a taste of things to come
- Encryption, while a valid response to privacy and security concerns, it makes the job of operators and vendors that much more difficult
- Targeted advertising came, and went, came again, went again and well…
- Customer Experience – operators are still far from emulating the digital natives when it comes to the customer experience.
- And the list goes on
I do believe that as the challenges become more complex, the role for policy control will become more essential. Agility will be the key for operators and vendors alike. As the pace of innovation increases operators must react quicker. Some operators, have managed to get out ahead of the pack.
- Reliance Jio has come from nowhere to shake up one of the biggest markets in the world.
- T-Mobile USA continues to create massive shifts in the market with its uncarrier moves.
- Globe and Smart in the Philippines consistently redefine the “Digital Telco”
- Smaller segment specific MVNOs are challenging the Telco concept of the customer service
There are litterly hundreds of use cases where Policy Control can make an impact. It’s time for Policy Control and Charging vendors and their operators to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!
Jonathon Gordon, Directing Analyst, EMI. This article was first published on Pricing Data Plans.