Delivering real-time rating and real-time service policy enforcement at Telco operators

Published 2015-11-11

The emergence of real-time came with a promise to deliver a more interactive, richer and responsive user experience for services such as mobile, fixed broadband and TV. Although still in its infancy, real-time has proved to deliver on the promise for the few operators that have already adopted it. So why haven’t more operators exploredthis avenue more aggressively? What is preventing them?

Most telecom operators have had real-time for a long time for their mobile prepaid services. This means that the user’s account balance is validated in real-time while the user is on a call or surfing on their phone. However, few operators have come very far in implementing real-time for any other service and even fewer for any other purpose than the real-time validation of the user account balance for the sole purpose of preventing revenue leakage or fraud.

Why would an operator go through the hassle, effort and cost of implementing real-time? Well, to mention a few benefits:

  • Bandwidth on demand
  • Richer user experience
  • Fraud prevention
  • Leaner operations
  • Real-time customer self-service
  • Tethering – (the ability to use the same mobile data package connection to surf from multiple devices - pads, phones, laptops etc.) We believe that real-time is at a similar point to when mobile data was emerging; it is impossible to foresee the real killer apps, how the users will use the technology and for what, but you know that it will have a huge impact.

It takes time to build knowledge andexperience into an organisations. Real-time will affect most central systems in the architecture and operators should take steps now to embrace real-time.

The difficulty with real-time is that there is no single system that makes it all come true. Real-time means implementing a number of new components in the network and the implementation will impact the whole technology stack; it will blur the boundaries between the OSS and BSS layers.

Real-time means integrating Real-Time Charging, PCEF (Policy Control and Enforcement Function) and PCRF (Policy and Charging Rules Function) and the Billing platform. To turn it into a good user experience, the end users need to be able to control and manage their policies, notifications etc. online through self-care, mobile apps or CRM systems.

The selected architecture depends on the operator’s starting point and long-term strategy. If the operator is running legacy billing and rating systems there is the opportunity to combine real-time streaming event processing systems and middleware balance management. This will achieve the same as implementing it in an architecture utilizing a real-time billing and rating system.

Regardless of the architecture model there are a number of challenges and questions to consider:

  • The end user experience will change; therefore the offerings will most likely need some restructuring
  • Real-time notifications and real-time enforcements of policies will mean that customer communications need to be looked at very carefully
  • The customer service department will need new functions to provide service to the customers
  • Online and self-care platforms need to provide real-time experiences. End users will expect a higher degree of control over their services, and how fast their changes take effect in the network, which will affect service provisioning
  • Tools for information analysis should be available for the end user. The challenge will be to provide the right information and options to create a good service for both end-user and operator
  • How should service windows and maintenance be managed in a real-time world?
  • How does real-time affect performance in different parts of the architecture?
  • What packages exist to solve performance-related issues?
  • Testing of real-time scenarios presents very particular challenges. Operators do not usually have test environments for all network elements. Testing usually means scenarios that span a number of systems.

In short, real-time services will demand new offerings, a change in customer communication and a higher degree of real-time integration in almost all parts of the architecture.  Marketing, product development, finance, IT and network professionals must think and work differently together. 

Knowledge based on experience

Knowing the needed building blocks and processes and how to combine them is key to a successful delivery. United Vanning is the ideal partner to orchestrate and assist with assessing the different business models and to create an architecture roadmap for implementation in the BSS/OSS architecture.

United Vanning has hands-on experience of implementing real-time across entire organizations and architectures – all the way from business analysis to acceptance testing. This includes both management as well as technical implementation expertise.

For more information about United Vanning or to explore how our expertise can help you please contact us at

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