Traffic Management for Telecom operators, or How to Kill Three Birds with One Stone

Internet providers and operators enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology that classifies traffic by application and protocol and manages it by blocking, prioritizing, rerouting and assigning bandwidth. A further improvement in performance and revenue generation can be achieved by establishing user-specific traffic management policies, which in fact kills three birds with one stone.

First, such policies increase profit. Any operator wants a higher ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and a better return on bandwidth and the amount of data delivered to the user. Some extra income from adjacent markets such as OTT (Over the Top) or Internet advertising also does not hurt.

Second, prioritizing or rerouting traffic brings down operation costs and reduces data loss in overloaded networks.

Third, user-specific traffic mana-gement enhances customer loyalty. Apart from high connection quality customers also appreciate a broader range of products available, access to personal selection and customzation of services, customer feedback opportunities and rapid response to market demand.

Policy Control and Charging (PCC) solutions deal with all these issues and personalize provider services by means of active traffic management.

PCC suites are based on the PCRF (Policy and Charging Rules Function) software module that connects the operator’s DPI platform with BSS (Business Support Systems) to trigger user-specific (or group-specific) scenarios, tariff plans and so on. JSM (Jet Subscriber Manager) is precisely one of those brain centers of a PCC suite. JSM collects information of user profiles (tariff plans, connected services etc.), network resources (channel load, applications priority), the user session status (particularly, traffic used). This information plus additional data (the time of day, info from external partners) is employed to formulate system-specific policies that are sent to the DPI platform for execution.

By interacting with the operator’s external systems, JSM processes events such as changes in the tariff plan, addition/cancellation of services or user status changes (e.g. disconnection). Several variables are included in user profiles stored in the JSM database along with instructions that are valid for the life of the contract (say, turn on the Turbo functionality from 7 to 12 p.m.).

As JSM interacts with the DPI platform, it monitors user authorization, the start/end of sessions and any changes in session parameters. A user session log contains a username, user terminal identification, IP-address and other parameters from the RADIUS/DIAMETER message. Also, JSM monitors user traffic and collects pertinent statistics. DPI can send data on all user traffic, p2p traffic, traffic to/from certain nodes and so on.

JSM’s component architecture can be easily scaled up and/or customized to fit the needs and systems of a particular operator (in terms of billing, personal profiles, authorization rules and so on).

Fig. 1. Traffic management: a conceptual scheme

A hunt in full swing

JSM manages to kill all the three birds mentioned earlier in this paper with one stone by giving a VIP treatment to clients who are willing to pay for high quality services. A certain segment of users starts paying more to the provider, while additional costs are modest and a better service means greater customer satisfaction.

JSM is conducive to flexible tariff policies that enable the user to «build» their own plans from various options, include some subscriptions for a certain period only for an extra fee, limit access to certain resources or, conversely, order high speeds for some types of content. For instance, many clients use the Internet merely to access e-mail, search engines and a couple of social networks. This group may be offered rock-bottom tariffs along with the opportunity to pay for access to other sites. In another case a user may pay extra for additional bandwidth just for the time it takes to stream an HD video.

In other words, a user can purchase temporary access to «perks» featured by premium plans as needed. Traffic management scenarios may be divided into typical groups as follows:

  • Traffic control (bandwidth limitation for certain services, traffic prioritization, flexible tariffs, limitation on tariff plans);
  • Collective (family or multi-device) tariff plans;
  • User self-service (selection and customization of tariff plan service options);
  • Providing a dedicated bidi-rectional communications line between the user and the operator;
  • User behavior monitoring and analysis;
  • Contextual and targeted advertising;
  • Automatic authorization on the wi-fi network;
  • Base station traffic management.

What does JSM actually do

We have deployed a system of active traffic management in the network of a regional mobile operator with over 600,000 clients. At the preliminary stage Jet Infosystems analyzed the operator’s existing tariff plans and their differences (the unit cost of a megabyte of data, limits on certain operations once the quota has been reached), the distribution of tariff plans among users, the incidence of network bottlenecks that are prone to overload. At the next stage a flexible system was designed for traffic management depending on the tariff plan, the quota status and the network load.

JSM classified all users according to the type of their devices (small screen – telephone, large screen – USB modem) and the amount of ARPU.

Traffic was managed at the following levels:

  • Certain user groups were assigned a higher priority within the existing total bandwidth;
  • Applications were prioritized by type within the GGSN bandwidth assigned to each individual user;
  • Bandwidth caps were estab-lished for certain applications depending on network traffic.

Once network traffic reaches a certain limit established for each user group and for various application classes, a bandwidth cap goes into effect for each user.

Once the dynamic user traffic management was introduced, gross monthly income increased by 14,66%.


Such challenging large-scale pro-jects entail numerous components that need to be integrated with the operator’s incumbent systems as well as among themselves. Jet Infosystems, a world-class systems integrator, offers a key product for dynamic traffic management as well as a wealth of experience in the deployment and integration of relevant products from various vendors.

 

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