Is 5G PCF the new PCRF?

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5G PCF the new PCRF

What is Policy and Charging Rules Function [PCRF]?

Policy and Charging Rules Function [PCRF] assists service data flow detection, policy enforcement, and flow-based charging. PCRF allows next generation communications service providers [CSPs] to provide diverse use cases as a complete solution. It, in turn, allows reliable monitoring of services and resources aligning with revenue. Statistics and data obtained by CSPs will help draft policies based on how subscribers and applications can use network resources under what conditions.

Usually, policy servers handle the policy rules among all internal applications and all the policy enforcement points like access devices as well. It includes re-configuring policies to effectively manage Quality of Service (QoS), charging, quota, optimization, and admission control. An extensive range of interfaces simplifies the integration of the PCRF with any type of mobile or fixed broadband network.

As CSPs will soon be migrating to 5G networks, existing and newer networks are essential to run concurrently. Jumping between both networks, operators need to sustain session visibility. Policy solutions need to regulate sessions per subscriber. With a network-agnostic solution [wireline and wireless], PCRF enables a multi-dimensional, innovative approach. 5G Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) can mostly be deployed as a standalone service or can be integrated with different digital platforms like billing, rating, charging, and subscriber database.

Features of 5G PCRF

  • Real-time management of the network and subscriber policy
  • Effective routing and scheduling of network traffic
  • Centralized view of subscriber context from device, network, location, and billing data
  • Data-based insights into revenue assurance and bandwidth management
  • Premium differentiated voice services to the user(s)
  • Prioritizing calls to emergency numbers in next-gen networks

Is 5G PCF the new PCRF?

While the original LTE networks offered a mobile broadband service, the addition of the voice service enabled a quality guarantee of service. Additionally, the voice service over LTE led to CSP programs that concentrated on IMS deployments with PCRF installations. The infrastructure of CSPs took care of the authorization, management of the User Plane resources and offered the required charging-related information for the voice sessions.

The Core Network for 5G systems is the Service Based Architecture (SBA), with several defined Network Functions [NFs]. Their atomic capabilities help to design exclusive network features and capabilities. Amongst all the Network Functions the most important one is the 5G Policy Control Function (PCF). It will handle User Plane resources for the 5G sessions and is a natural extension of the 4G PCRF. While the PCF may not appear different from the PCRF, there are a few distinct variations.

Salient Features of 5G PCF

  • Extensive support given for 5G QoS policy, related 5G signaling interfaces and charging control functions
  • Managed and streamlined 5G policy rules mainly for all the 5G control plane functions, including the 5G network slicing, mobility management and roaming
  • Collect and analyze subscriber data from various metrics to optimize resources
  • Managing subscribers, applications, and network resources in real-time
  • Rapid deployment and upgrade using the ConfD CLI
  • Cloud-native implementation
  • Increased speed, low latency
  • Supports rapid policy use case deployment
  • High availability and multisite geo-redundancy
  • Session management (SM) policy control service
  • Access and mobility management (AM) policy control service
  • Policy authorization (PA) service
  • Provides a centralized communication platform for interactions of NFs

The digital landscape of today both requires rapid deployment of new use cases and services. State-of-the-art policy management should be capable of supporting this through programmable policies. Operators should be capable of personalizing use cases and implementing innovative services without depending on software developers to code and manage policies. 

At STL, we offer refined, intelligent policy control to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and ensure evolving subscription demands are met with optimized network resources in real-time. Reach out to us today to become 5G future-ready!

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