NFV, SDN will Drive Future-Ready PCRF and Deliver Business Agility for Operators


By Zia Askari |

With global telecom operators looking forward to embracing all-IP network, it is getting very important for operators to continuously create and innovate their monetization models and this is where new age concepts around NFV and SDN can propel operators and communication service providers to embrace digital transformation. In such a scenario, having the right PCRF approach holds the big key to enable business agility.

Talking about the way PCRF segment is embracing change and how NFV, SDN can script the next level of growth for operators, Simo Isomäki, ‎Vice President, Partner Development at Comptel, says that, PCRF needs to be more closely aligned with monetization strategies. Digital and communications service providers must be able to improve time to market and speed to revenue in their service offerings, evolving from the too-slow telco speed to the era of internet speed, which shrinks the time required for data plan design from months to minutes.


“Flexibility is also important for creating new data plans, and can be achieved through configuration, rather than by writing lots of code. Service elasticity needs to stretch to flexible configurability, allowing fast and numerous combinations of service building blocks.

To cater to the elasticity in scaling, PCRF and whole PCC domain must be running as virtual entities and comply with ETSI Virtual Network Functions (VNF), forming a seamless and integral part of the overall ETSI NFV architecture. Currently, some digital and communications service providers are already leading in implementing these capabilities, while others are studying and trialing NFV and SDN technologies. As an active member of ETSI NFV ISG, Comptel is working in NFV and virtualization through a number different Proof of Concepts with our Tier1 customer and with our global and strategic partner Hitachi in the virtualized Mobile Core area.
Digital and communications service providers need to be more in control of their own destiny, and to achieve that, they need to select not only technology that meets their needs in functional and non-functional domains, but also in the domains of changeability and adaptability.
Comptel believes operators should consider the scope outside of the logical 3GPP architecture. For instance, P-CSCF is part of the larger scope of IMS; PCEF falls under the larger scope of control plane and user plane separation, as well as under Mobile Core, within PDN-GW or a separate entity, with or without DPI capabilities. PCRF should be considered as part of monetization strategies and therefore align to more to the IT BSS domain than network domain,” he explains.


Speaking about the importance of PCRF, Rajesh Razdan, CEO & Founder, mCarbon says that PCRF is the central policy node in the network of an operator, coordinating the nodes in the transport domain to behave according to the defined policies of the operator.

“PCRF applies subscriber and service-centric policy control capabilities to mobile broadband, mobile IMS, EPC, fixed deployments. Service access control, QoS control, and charging control can be statically configured, or dynamically generated through real-time integration with application functions like IP TV servers or IMS applications, or both. With new requirements on 4G , IMS and WiFi calling , OTT etc, PCRF reinforces its positioning in the market with the enhancement of different features and functions that will help operators for the coming challenges,” he adds on.


As per the views of Vani Manian, Director of Technical Sales, Alepo Technologies, “We’re seeing so many examples today of how service differentiation is becoming the actual driver of revenue, no longer just price per byte. We’re seeing really rich and customer-centric data plans like toll-free apps or zero rated data for apps or over the top services, increased loyalty rewards and freebies, and increasingly more partnerships across the communications ecosystem. And it’s advanced policy and charging control that holds the key to unlocking these new plans.
Today’s competitive market requires service providers to continuously innovate on the service offerings. To support this, policy rules need to be able to support simple as well as complex conditions of a combination of parameters. Defining such policy rule conditions require engineers who can translate the requirements from marketing executives into query or scripting syntax. There is often a communication gap between business and engineers resulting in incorrect configurations and perhaps incorrect policy decisions too if the gap is not identified in time. Alepo PCRF’s expression builder helps bridge this gap by allowing business users to define the rules that they want themselves,” she explains.

Big Advantages of PCC

According to Simo Isomäki, ‎Vice President, Partner Development at Comptel, the biggest advantage of PCC is that it enables greater granularity of control to the CSPs with respect to how they want services to be delivered, even as complications from ubiquitous access and service domains grow.

“This granularity will enable CSPs to move away from one-size-fits-all designs and satisfy cloud-gen customers’ personalized preferences. It will allow them to earn a larger share of customers’ wallets, and help them adjust continuously to stay relevant in such a rapidly changing market,” he explains.

Rajesh Razdan, CEO & Founder, mCarbon emphasizes that the elements of the PCC provide access, resource, and quality-of-service (QoS) control for the operator’s network operations.

“Some of the big advantages are – Fair Usage Policy – The PCRF supports control of heavy users by controlling their network use and taking actions (for example, throttling, RAT/Frequency selection) when the established limits are surpassed.
Value-Added Offerings – Operators are willing to monetize premium services and obtain more revenues by segmenting the subscriber base. The PCRF helps operators define complex offerings, included application specific bundles, accumulated usage etc.

Voice Optimization – Multimedia services consume an increasing proportion of network resources, and subscribers are increasing their usage of multimedia services. End-to-end (E2E) QoS ensures that services do not over-load the limited network resources, and not degrade existing services, service level agreements, and premium subscribers.

Improve user perception:- PCRF provides lot of features that support close contact with subscriber. Subscriber can be informed about their services usage and roaming quota etc. Also Subscriber can be redirected to portal based on operator requirement.” He explains.

Vani Manian, Director of Technical Sales, Alepo Technologies, says, “As policy control evolves, moving from network management to, today encompassing so much more of your business: how you monetize your network and how you deliver a more sophisticated customer experience, there’s a clear advantage to selecting a policy management solution from a vendor like Alepo. Because our products span the service provider network and IT, you’ll get the high performance and reliability you expect in a core network element AND the revenue-centric, flexible business logic that enables you to deliver innovative products and monetize your data services immediately.

Why we are different

Our PCRF implements open, standards based interfaces and promotes loose coupling of network components so you’ll never be locked into a single DPI or proprietary network elements, so that you can replace or update your network elements on your own terms.

Alepo’s PCRF is built to deliver the utmost flexibility, performance, and ease of use. But what really sets us apart is that we don’t sacrifice one of these design elements to achieve the other. Traditionally, service providers have had to choose whether they wanted a highly flexible policy solution that required a lot of complex and error-prone configuration and management OR a solution that was easy to use but limited what you could control or edit. Alepo’s PCRF gives you both. You can start with a fast and easy rule creation and then lift up the hood to make custom changes to the script as needed.

Similarly, we don’t sacrifice performance to achieve flexibility. Regardless of how the solution is deployed, for which services its supporting, you’ll have a fast, high performing and highly reliable system.

Alepo’s PCRF can be deployed in diverse network environments, making it an ideal solution for our group level customers, whose members’ networks and legacy IT systems can vary widely.
We can deploy a standards-based PCRF that integrates smoothly with existing IT systems over standard web services API for real-time provisioning, and with existing network elements via 3GPP standard Diameter Interfaces.” She explains.