Allot’s MobileTrends Charging Report H1 2014, which includes the results of a survey of the data plans and charging trends of 175 mobile operators worldwide, has thrown up a few interesting nuggets.
First off, there is the news that the vast majority of operators now make explicit use of what might be termed 3rd party or OTT content or applications within their data pricing.
This might be a bundle that includes Spotify, for example, although Allot found that Facebook was the most popular “zero rated” app. 37% of operators had at least one OTT partnership and 45% of operators offer at least one zero-rated app. But a very high 85% of all operators had at least some sort of application-centric plan. And over 40% now offer some sort of multi-device shared data plan.
So, from a network point of view, what?
Well, multi-device or shared family data plans, data tariffs that escalate with usage of certain volumes of apps, plans that offer “zero rated” usage of other apps, all of this requires real time intelligence in the network from rating and charging, but also to policy control and enforcement engines. Systems need to ask and then answer: What app or content is this person accessing, are they allowed to do that, what do we charge for that, who do we charge for that, are we partners with this app provider, when and how do we make the charge, what space does the user have left on their volume cap, should I send an alert or confirmation message?
All of that requires more visibility into what users are actually doing on the network – app and content recognition through DPI, for example, and integration of content recognition with real time charging and policy elements. It requires more signalling capacity across the network as well, to handle all those messages between elements, and especially the capability to handle peak and “unpredictable” signalling loads.
If you would like to read more, you can download the whole report here.