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January 2010 | Volume 13 / Number 1
Feature Story

Policy Management Keeps on Truckin’

By: Paula Bernier

Despite FCC (News - Alert) Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recent pronouncement that he supports net neutrality for both wireline and wireless networks, deep packet inspection vendors and operation support system outfits continue to evangelize the message that service providers both need and want tools to control which subscribers get what in the way of bandwidth and other services.

Policy management, the practice of allowing or denying subscribers the ability to enjoy various services and capabilities on the network, has been around for some time and has its roots in the prepaid mobile space, says Olivier Suard, marketing director at Comptel Corp., which offers a range of OSS solutions to 280 tier 1 and smaller service providers in 85 countries. Today, he adds, policy management is seen as a key enabler in broadband, especially for mobile broadband.

“You want to allow services for customers, but control what they do and how they do it,” says Suard.

Service providers don’t want to use policy management exclusively to deny services, he adds, they want to use it in positive ways as well. For example, a Comptel customer that offers live TV over its mobile network in Hong Kong uses policy management to adequate bandwidth so the service is delivered at a consistently high level.

Vikas Trehan, vice president of product management and marketing at service assurance company InfoVista, says that two years ago his company acquired Accellent whose tools it now sells under the 5View brand. That includes probes that can monitor IP traffic and look into the packets to see what applications live inside.

These tools can enable enterprise network operators to understand who’s consuming what kind of bandwidth for which applications. That can allow businesses to better architect their networks and, if needed, warn employees who might be hogging corporate bandwidth for non-work-related applications to cut it out. Services providers can employ the 5View to offer these same capabilities to corporations, but as managed services, says Trehan.

He adds that given the globalization of the workforce and the consolidation of data centers into fewer locations in an effort to become more eco-friendly, service providers can use network management to help enterprise customers do WAN optimization.

Telcordia Fuels the Drive to Efficiency

By: Paula Bernier

Whatever happens with net neutrality – and whether a particular business within a service provider falls under any particular regulation – it’s clear that networks aren’t free. That said, network operators need to focus on efficiency in managing their networks, note Adan Pope, chief strategy officer, and Peter Buonfiglio, director of solutions marketing, at Telcordia (News - Alert).

Says Pope: If you look at the deployment rate for next-generation video services like U-verse and FiOS, you see that a technician can only deploy one home a day, and that one turn up may involve two to three truck rolls and between $2,000 and $3,000 in related costs. With better network efficiencies, however, service providers could expedite provisioning to get more homes up-and-running on their broadband-based services more quickly and lower their costs in the process.

This is the type of solutions-based messaging Telcordia has been pushing, says Pope, who explains that rather than marketing its products the company offers solutions around order-to-service, plan-to-provision, service-to-cash, trouble-to-resolution and idea-to-implementation processes. IT

These same tools, he adds, can help service providers understand experiences on the network of their key customers, whether those customers are on wireline or wireless connections.

Jonathon Gordon, director of marketing at Allot (News - Alert) Communications, which provides deep packet inspection gear, gives a similar example of how his company’s technology can be use to recognize whether certain traffic on the network is video, for example, and direct that to a gateway blade handling video traffic with storage attached to that for local caching.

Allot’s gear can also be used to enable service providers to offer different packages around applications like VoIP, for example, he adds.

Doing this kind of thing, he says, provides for new opportunities around usage-based billing and various levels of service, and makes for a much richer experience on the network, says Gordon.

But it’s not always premium services at issue, he adds. A service provider could also use the Allot technology to offer a basic package that only enables web access and email access, possibly with a certain cap. “So we create an opportunity for people to move down,” he says.

So, to what extent are service providers already offering these tailored kinds of services?

It’s still early days, but Gordon says we’re starting to see more of this, particularly on the mobile side.

“The mobile market has really come out of nowhere in last 12 to 18 months in having to start managing the traffic on their networks,” he says.

He notes that these providers used to have lots of spare capacity, but since the iPhone (News - Alert) and other smartphones came on the scene, they are now faced with new capacity challenges.

Trevor Dyke, director of product management at service delivery router supplier Zeugma (News - Alert) Systems, says whether you’re looking at wireline or wireless broadband, metering is a big new area in networking. Of course, a lot of carrier efforts to manage their networks have been met with a wrap on the knuckle by the FCC, he says. Perhaps what service providers should do instead around their wireline broadband offers is implement packages akin to cellular offers that measure usage based on time of day, with no caps on usage during off hours, he says. IT

Putting Telcos on the AppStore Map

By: Paula Bernier

Everybody loves the AppStore model. And, as Fergus O’Reilly, chief solution expert at SAP, notes, it’s not just Apple (News - Alert)’s smartphone competitors who are jumping on the bandwagon. Cloud-based service providers, including telcos like Verizon, are trying to figure out how they fit into this model as well.

“That train has not yet left the station, but given some of the deals we’re seeing” there is real potential for this to take off, says O’Reilly.

Despite some in the industry who have indicated the opportunity for telcos to handle billing and settlement for application ecosystems has passed, O’Reilly says telcos have not “missed the boat.”

In fact, he says, SAP (News - Alert) is working with a tier 1 telco in the EMEA region to do billing and settlement for third-party application developers and other content providers. There’s lots of interest in this model from U.S. tier 1 telcos as well, he says. IT

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