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Policy and Charging Control for Mobile Broadband Networks 2011-03-07 Mobile broadband is certainly a success in terms of subscriber

uptake and traffic volumes! From an operator profitability point of view however, the picture is more varied. Many operators see a clear need to manage mobile broadband traffic in a more comprehensive way than today and it is certain that policy control and charging control will be used by many for this purpose. QoS handling and charging has changed substantially with the growth of mobile broadband; Mobile broadband traffic can be anything from low bit rate, non real-time (e.g. e-mail) to high bit rate real-time multimedia over IP (e.g. IP-TV). So the PDP Context (or now EPS Bearer) should be set up in a tailor made way for the actual service. But also other things should be taken into consideration; subscriber profile, user location, radio access (2G, 3G, LTE), available network resources etc. Also charging mechanisms must reflect that mobile broadband is a much less homogeneous service than voice and SMS. Needless to say, the charging mechanisms must also enable operators to make some fair revenue from the mobile broadband services. As long as mobile telecom was basically a voice business, QoS handling and charging was quite straightforward. Charging has never been uncomplicated, but at least the basic principles (time and distance based charging) were intuitive and widely accepted. Early mobile data was typically offered as a best effort connection for which subscribers would pay a flat monthly fee. This model works great as long as the GPRS/UMTS data traffic is a small fraction of voice/SMS. For some time, operators have to different degrees done policy control and charging control. The purpose being e.g. to c ontrol and manage QoS, implement fair usage policies, restrict uncontrolled "heavy usage" by some subscribers, do pack et inspection to filter illegal or unwanted traffic and to introduce more sophisticated charging based on volume quotas and/or speed differentiation. 3GPP has been working on Policy and Charging Control (PCC) for at least 5 years. The approach has varied slightly over time. But in 3GPP Release 8, a standardized architecture for PCC was introduced, complete with nodes, functions, interfaces, signaling protocols etc. Being 3GPP, the PCC architecture is focused on mobile broadband in combination with IMS (the IP Multimedia Subsystem) for operator controlled IP-based services. However, also PCC for nonoperator services (i.e. Internet traffic) is catered for, particularly in the more recent documents. The key player in the 3GPP Policy and Charging Control architecture is the PCRF (Policy and Charging Rules Function). The PCRF generates so called PCC Rules, which stipulate: How a certain type of traffic (a Service Data Flow) is to be detected Charging instructions for the Service Data Flow QoS parameters for the Service Data Flow The PCC Rules are provided to the PCEF (Policy and Charging Enforcement Function) via the Diameter based Gx reference point. The PCEF resides in the user data plane (GGSN or PDN GW), and is responsible for making sure that the PCC Rules are followed. A key feature is that the granularity for Policy and Charging Control is on Service Data Flow level. A SDF is typically identified with IP-addresses, port numbers and transport protocol (TCP/UDP). This allows the operator to do policy c ontrol (QoS control, gating) and charging control (online or offline) on Service Data Flow level. This idea of Flow Based Charging (FBC) has been debated (and questioned) and is a good example of the sometime differing views in the Telecom vs the Internet industries. Other sources of input for the PCRFs generation of PCC Rules are the SPR (Subscription Profile Repository) and the AF (Application Function). SPR is a general name for a database containing QoS related subscriber data. One can assume that it is somehow closely related to HSS/HLR and/or the new concept of a UDR (User Data Repository).

The AF (Application Function) is a node in the PDN (Internet, IMS etc) that is responsible for the actual service. This could e.g. be a streaming server or a CSCF (Call Session Control Function). The AF can via the Diameter based Rx reference point describe a service to a PCRF in terms of IP-addresses, port numbers, bit rates and delay sensitivity. PCRF then takes this into account when creating PCC-Rules. 3GPPs main assumption is that there is an operator controlled AF "out there". However, if we view mobile broadband as a means for Internet access, it is doubtful that a gene al Internet Server will act as an AF and provide service information to a PCRF. This means that Policy and Charging Control will sometimes use preconfigured "standard" PCC-Rules, or use packet inspection to try to identify the type of IP t raffic. There is a lot more to it! 3GPPs PCC architecture can also be used with non-3GPP IP-CANs (IP Connectivity Access Networks) and fixed broadband. Different roaming scenarios are included and the choice if EPC protocol (GTP or PMIP) leads to slightly different PCC-architectures. Learn more about this in our latest released course PCC-Policy and Charging Control, 2 days.