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June 06, 2012

Diameter Plays a Role in Enabling 'Toll Free' Data

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

To sell a service, you have to be able to bill for a service. And some of those new ways, where lawful, might require the access equivalent of a “toll free” service, where a third party pays for bandwidth consumption required by an application.

Tekelec (News - Alert) (News   - Alert) has expanded the functionality of its Diameter Signaling Router to add what it calls “DSR Over-the-Top Proxy,” enabling several innovative business models service providers are talking about.

The “toll-free” data method of charging is being promoted in the U.S. market, where third parties--especially video and content providers--subsidize bandwidth usage related to specific apps. But doing so requires a direct billing relationship between operators and OTT application providers.

‘Quality-of-service’ based tiers are conceivable for U.S. mobile service providers, though at the moment are barred in the fixed network access realm. U.S. network neutrality rules do not allow any quality of service mechanisms that employ packet priorities.

An operator could have video count against a subscriber’s quota for standard quality, and have the application provider pay for the bandwidth during a high-definition video session that requires greater speeds.

In other cases, service providers might want to offer promotional offers, such as a monthly streaming music service where 10 hours are free to a subscriber, with the music service paying the operator for the bandwidth consumed.

Another variation would be a video service paying for the data generated from a movie preview, and the subscriber responsible for data consumed by the full movie.

There also could be loyalty programs, where third parties reward subscribers with “toll-free” data for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays or a few hours.

Each revenue-sharing model requires a service provider to expose policies that define service rules and subscriber data that personalize services to an application provider, using the Diameter protocol.

This new functionality extends the Diameter Signaling Router’s role in helping operators generate revenue from mobile data as described in the new white paper: “New Diameter Network: Over-the-Top, Clouds and Machines.”

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