This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Service providers’ new push to implement and execute policy within their networks has given rise to a new category of infrastructure some are calling the policy exchange controller.
"Yankee Group (News - Alert) believes that policy exchange controllers are essential building blocks in the all-IP world of LTE and IMS," says Brian Partridge, vice president of network research with Yankee Group. "Acme Packet (News - Alert) is taking advantage of its IMS border control leadership and IP signaling expertise to define a new product category and launch a compelling solution to help service providers successfully grow their next-generation networks."
Acme Packet earlier this year unveiled its Net-Net Policy Director, a product that controls the flow of policy within a service provider network or between different carrier networks.
Kevin Mitchell (News - Alert), director of solutions marketing, explains that the product, which was designed for LTE and IMS networks, is involved in authentication, authorization, mobility location, QoS, charging and other network functions. It’s not a policy server or a deep packet inspection engine, he adds; rather, a policy exchange controller addresses interoperability and security issues, enabling policy flow to take place.
“It’s basically an SBC for Diameter,” says Mitchell of Acme Packet, which is best known for its session border controller solutions.
Roaming is the initial application for which policy exchange controllers are likely to be used, Mitchell says. For this application, the policy exchange controller would secure the Diameter signaling border between visited and home service providers so roaming subscribers can access both data and voice services. These devices also enable IPX carriers and roaming hubs to deliver multilateral LTE roaming services, according to Acme Packet.
Policy aggregation and federated service delivery are the other two key applications in which policy exchange controllers are expected to play a role.
For policy aggregation, Acme Packet says, policy exchange controllers help simplify the connections needed – and allow for multi-vendor interoperability – between the many network elements in LTE and IMS networks. That includes network elements such as the home subscriber server, policy charging and rules function, and mobility management entity.
As for federated service delivery, policy exchange controllers facilitate policy exchange between a network transport provider and a service provider, such as a mobile virtual network operator or over-the-top/cloud provider. That can enable revenue-sharing business models, notes Acme Packet.
“As LTE and IMS networks grow in number and subscribers, Diameter-based policy exchange will become instrumental to service provider profits,” says Seamus Hourihan (News - Alert), vice president of marketing and product management with Acme Packet. “Acme Packet is taking the lead in defining the policy exchange controller requirements and extending session border control to new networks and new protocols with the Net-Net Policy Director.”
Acme Packet declined to provide pricing information on the Net-Net Policy Director, which is now in customer labs and expected to be commercially available in volume starting this summer.
Of course, Tekelec is another company that plays in the policy space, with its RAN-aware policy management and mobile video solutions that combine the Camiant Policy Management product with the Performance Intelligence Center and the Subscriber Data Management solution.
The radio access network solution gives operators the real-time performance and subscriber intelligence to enable them to adjust network and subscriber policies based on traffic conditions.
“This year mobile operators are focused on service innovation to accelerate revenue growth and in particular, optimize their networks for mobile video,” says Susie Kim Riley, Tekelec’s chief marketing officer. “Dynamic policy management combined with real-time network and subscriber intelligence will be critical for operators looking to improve network performance and offer personalized services to their subscribers.”
Randy Fuller (News - Alert), director of strategic marketing, says that many of the major service providers already are using Tekelec’s policy management products today. And Tekelec’s tools can let service providers decide what they want to look at in the network as it relates to subscribers and other service and network parameters.
“Tekelec has all the pieces to do true congestion-based policy control,” Fuller says.
He adds that the company is currently in trials in the Latin America and Europe with the solution, which he says is the first of its kind.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi