Role of Policy Manager (PCRF) for Next-Generation Data Services

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Better Policy Management Ensures Growth in Subcribers.
  2. PCRF Plays a Critical Role in Network Resource Management.

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is a 5G NR?

How Better Policy Management can ensures Growth in Subscriber?

With mobile data growing at 70% in India, wireless data over 3G promises a high growth segment for mobile operators. There is a strong need for the operators to manage subscriber experience to ensure optimum service and performance. 3G promises higher bandwidth and speeds much faster than its predecessor 2.5G, while Operators offer new services such as video streaming, net browsing at a much higher pace. The attractive service plans with low rentals and promotional charges will ensure uptake.

Many industry experts foresee issues like Bill Shock to be one of the concerns for the operators, as has been the case in developed markets like US & Europe. Bill shock in layman terms means negative reaction a subscriber can experience if their mobile phone bill has unexpected charges. Such as if a user grossly overused their data applications without being aware of it. But if we see it from the perspective of the Indian market, the Indian users are very conscious of their usage- for eg, I have been using a smartphone on 2.5 G network for over a year now and each time I view a page I am notified of the volume of data I am about to download, this helps me keep a check on my usage- I have never got a Bill SHOCK. It is a good add-on offering to enable the subscriber to be more aware of its use.

The more relevant Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) use cases for the Indian mobile data market are Fair Access Policy, Fair bandwidth usage for Social Networking through smart devices and ensuring QoS for subscribers.

How Policy Management Plays a Key Role in Network Resource Management?

The operators need to ensure a seamless QoS experience for 3G subscribers with cost-effective pricing to match up to the threat of Wifi connection, in which a single connection can be used by many. Policy management plays a critical role in balancing the demands on network resources with Subscribers using different applications having different bandwidth requirements. Policy management solution ensures QoS deliverability for enhanced end-user experience and Fair bandwidth consumption through real-time policy management to enforce usage-based caps.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is a 5G NR?

5G typically refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology. NR, commonly known as New Radio, is a standard developed by the 3GPP Group (Release 15 being the first version introduced back in 2018) outlining the technology required to harness the newly-available millimeter-wave frequencies. The two frequency bands in which 5GNR operates are Frequency Range 1, i.e., Sub 6GHz band (410 MHz to 7125 MHz), and Frequency Range 2, i.e., millimeter-wave (24.25 to 52.6 GHz). Over 4G LTE, 5G NR provides better spectrum utilization, faster data rates, hardware efficiency, and improved signal processing.

From a deployment standpoint, we have Non-Standalone Mode(NSA), Dynamic Spectrum Sharing(DSS), and Standalone Mode (SA). The initial deployments of 5G NR are based on NSA standards, meaning the existing 4G LTE network will operate on the control plane, and 5G NR will be introduced to the user plane. This particular standard was introduced by 3GPP, keeping in mind the industry’s push to faster 5G services rollout while utilizing the existing 4G LTE infrastructure currently in place. On the other hand, operators are also implementing Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to accelerate the deployment cycle, reducing costs and improving spectrum utilization. In this standard, the same spectrum is shared between the 5G NR and 4G LTE, multiplexing over time per user demands. Lastly, we have the Standalone Mode (SA), which moves towards a complete 5G based network where both signaling and the information transfer are driven by a 5G cell.

In the future, 5G will enable new services, connect new industries and devices, empower new experiences, and much more, providing mission-critical services, enhanced mobile broadband, and various other things.

a) Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) Applications: High device connectivity, High mobile data rates, and Mobile AR & VR applications
b) Ultra-reliable, low-latency communications (uRLLC)Applications: Autonomous vehicles, Drones, Data monitoring, Smart mfg.
c) Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)Applications: Healthcare, Industry 4.0, Logistics, Environmental monitoring, Smart farming, Smart grids.

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