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White Paper EU Data Roaming Regulations - A Focus On BSS

Table of Contents
I. II. III. EU Data Roaming Regulations - A Focus on BSS................................................... 3 Background .............................................................................................................. 3 Financial Implications .............................................................................................. 4 BSS Implications ...................................................................................................... 4 New BSS Requirements ........................................................................................... 5 Architectural Options................................................................................................. 6 - Fully 3GPP Compliant PCC Architecture - Enhanced Policy-Based Approach Beyond Regulations To A Value Added Service....................................................... 12

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IV. V. VI. VII.

A proven focus on the network edge.


Unlike many providers that support broad, bundled software suites, Openet remains strongly focused on network-edge solutions that extract increased business value from network activity. Combining highly specialized Solution Delivery engagements with our industry-leading Openet FusionWorks event-processing and transactionmanagement software platform, Openet enables todays service providers to rapidly introduce new services, while cost-effectively managing services already in market.

EU Data Roaming Regulations - A Focus on BSS


The introduction of European Union regulation on roaming, with its 50 revenue cap for data roaming subscribers, and penalties for non-compliance from national regulators, is forcing operators to address the issue of roaming bill shock in 2009. The regulation requires a change to how roaming subscribers are managed, from an account-centric model (pre- and post-paid), to one which is service-centric. The regulation puts the emphasis on real-time management of data service balances, regardless of whether it is pre- or post-paid. The effect of this regulation will be mainly felt in the BSS layer. With their already full work schedules, the regulation sets BSS departments a tight deadline for compliance. With a flexible OSS/BSS layer it is possible to comply with the regulatory deadlines, and minimize disruption to existing business plans. Indeed putting in place the right tools to address the legislation can provide a solid foundation for innovative personalized services and other advanced policy management capabilities.

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Background
As part of the European Unions responsibility for creating a single market, the European Commission has identified high communication costs as an inhibitor to an effective internal EU market. Subsequently, the Commission has introduced an EU Directive, to regulate the behavior of European operators; to reduce intra-community communication costs; and to mitigate the impact of bill shock on consumers. This has had the affect of compelling operators to reduce the costs for voice, SMS, and data services while roaming within the limits of the EU, and introduce spending control mechanisms for data services. The EU regulation as it relates to data roaming has the following conditions which apply to EU phone contracts when roaming in a EU member state: Introduction of a wholesale (i.e. excludes retail) data roaming cap of 1 per MB downloaded Upon entering a fellow EU state, subscribers must receive a notification with their personalized data roaming tariff Customer notifications must be sent in the appropriate format for the customer i.e. SMS, pop-up window, re-direct etc. Beginning 1 March 2010, operators must offer subscribers the opportunity to place a cut-off limit on their account - One of these options must include a 50 cut-off, or its equivalent by data volume - Operators can offer consumers other cut-off limits, either greater or lesser than the default limit Beginning 1 July 2010, customers that do not select an alternative cut-off limit, will have a default limit of 50 placed on their account - Customers must receive a notification when they have consumed 80% of their limit and when they reached their ultimate threshold, at which point their session will be restricted Customers must be given the choice to continue their sessions after consuming their threshold Customers must be able to opt-out of having a limit placed on their account Customers must be able to opt-out of receiving personalized tariff information As of 1 November, 2010 an operator must be capable of implementing customer changes in 1 working day For now, these EU rules are limited to reducing inter-operator charges. However, the ultimate goal of this legislation is to reduce the retail cost of roaming to European Union citizens. Along with the introduction of this legislation, the European Commission has pledged to monitor the retail prices of data services and to ensure that operators pass on these savings to consumers. It will have to report to the European Parliament and Council on the effectiveness of the regulation no later than 30 June 2011. 3

Financial Implications
The regulation has three major financial implications for EU mobile communication service providers. Firstly, it caps the revenue per megabit that an operator can make from interconnect fees from subscribers roaming on its network. Secondly, if an operator doesnt enforce a usage cap for its customers, it will have to pay the visited network for all the data its subscribers use, but will be limited in the amount of money that can be recovered from its customers. Finally, if operators fail to properly implement the regulation, they will be exposed to penalties and censure by their national telecommunication regulators. Interestingly, previously introduced roaming regulation has had a positive financial effect with more subscribers using their phones for Voice and SMS while roaming, resulting in increased overall roaming revenue.

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BSS Implications
Looking at a service providers infrastructure, the main impact the regulation will have is on the billing infrastructure. The regulation creates new requirements, which must be grafted onto the existing BSS and OSS functions. To comply with the terms of the EU Directive, operators will need to introduce the following functionality across both post- and pre-paid accounts: Cap enforcement: Service consumption is dynamic by its nature, data balances will need to be monitored in real-time to ensure notifications and caps can be accurately enforced. Flexibility will be required to enable operators to define EU default and tailor optional caps for subscribers.

Multiple financial thresholds:

Real-time convergent Tariffs inclusive of subscriber discounts and bundles must be rating: capable of being applied in real-time, to render an accurate picture of subscribers data consumption against individual spend limits. Account structures: Complex account structures, such as corporate accounts and their associated discounts and bundles, must be rendered in real-time. Further flexibility in handling balances will also be required, where account balances are divided between personal and business use. Central to avoiding bill shock is timely communication of usage information. Operators must be capable of triggering low balance notifications, to ensure subscribers are notified when their balance has consumed 80% and 100% of their threshold.

Notifications:

Usage caps overrule: Must be possible for a subscriber to override a limittemporarily or permanentlyto ensure they have a satisfactory data service. Quota exemptions: Certain usage must be zero rated i.e. free-of-charge, and not count towards usage volume e.g., a re-direction to an operators home page to inform subscribers of data roaming charges. A subscriber must be able to select multiple thresholds, opt-out of thresholds, opt-out of notifications, and be capable of being able to opt back-in. Policy Enforcement Points make it possible to provide different service control and billing functions. Operator must be able to translate between monetary threshold and its data equivalent to ensure a subscribers quota volume is accurately assigned.

Support customer changes: Policy Enforcement Point:

From a BSS perspective, the directive is most onerous on post-paid accounts structures, where roaming data records are typically handled on a batch basis. This is because this group is most likely to use data services whilst roaming, represents the biggest threat for revenue leakage, but also has the potential for increased revenues. A substantial lag can exist in processing post-paid roaming records. The scale of the challenge is highlighted by the recent GSMA initiative on Near Real-Time Roaming Data Exchange (NRTRDE). NRTRDE has set itself a goal of reducing the transfer time from roaming CDRs from approximately 36 hours to a maximum of 4 hours. With this EU Directive, a key challenge for operators will be to cost-effectively bring their post-paid accounts data usage, into a real-time environment. Operators will also be challenged to cost-effectively manage thresholds for the small, but growing number of pre-paid subscribers that use data roaming services. The challenge here is not real-time balance management, as pre-paid service balances are typically consumed in real-time. But the application of thresholds, usage limits, and notifications if they are to be implemented on IN-based balance management systems could be expensive, disruptive to business, and require longer delivery timelines, than those provided for by the EU Directive. Finally, the EU regulation currently envisaged as an exceptional and temporary action, there is the possibility that when the directive comes up for review on the 30 June, 2011 that its terms could be extended, or reversed.

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New BSS Requirements


With a tight implementation deadline1 March, 2010for many operators the primary priority will be timely compliance with the legislation, which will be principally determined by how elegantly this requirement can be integrated into the existing architecture, without disrupting current projects, or plans. The functionality outlined in the previous section, translates into the following BSS requirements: Intelligent management of post-paid accounts requiring real-time data balance management Applying data roaming bundles to traffic, to accurately determine data usage balances Rating in real-time, to determine individualized data roaming prices Synchronizing data roaming usage/balances with billing cycle or with first roaming session/subscriber activation in the case of pre-paid subscribers Application of subscriber thresholds that take the impact of complex, corporate account structures Creating usage and spend limits for all subscribers data roaming in the EU to: - Trigger notifications at 80% of financial/volume limit - Trigger notification and cut-off at 100% of financial/volume limit Management of NON-EU roaming traffic balances Identifying device and service appropriate notification methods - HTTP re-directs - SMS - Pop-up - IVR Configuration of multiple customer threshold amounts Managing limits where there are multiple SIM cards per account Capability to upgrade data package: - Temporarily to increase data roaming limit - Permanently to increase data roaming limit 5

Architectural Options
There are always a number of caveats to proposing any solution, not least being a service providers specific architecture, compliance to standards, budgetary limitations, and preferences based on network roadmap. To address the EU Data Roaming regulation the availability and capabilities of the following BSS components will have a significant impact on the solution architecture:

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Convergent rating engine to handle real-time rating of data traffic Scalable Credit Control Request Interface to manage transactions Capability to flexibly configure and execute business rules The capacity of existing (IN-based) balance management systems to identify and manage separate charging and threshold measurement streams

The following scenarios fully address the regulation, and have the potential to go beyond the regulatory requirements, to provide service providers with more than a point solution.

1. Fully 3GPP Compliant PCC Architecture


As would be expected, the 3GPP standards provide an extensible and comprehensive approach to address the issues associated with data roaming and the management of subscriber policies. 3GPP Release 7 introduced the concept of Policy and Charging Control (PCC) rules within the same architecture, enabling a Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) to execute policies in dynamic environment. Policy and Charging Control encompasses two main functions: Policy control e.g., gating control, QoS control, etc. Flow Based Charging, including charging control and online credit control This PCC architecture extends the architecture of an Internet Protocol-Connectivity Access Network, where the Policy and Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF) is a functional entity in the Gateway node, enforcing dynamic policy decisions based on the network usage and resources in real-time.

Figure 1: 3GPP Release 8 architecture overview

In the PCC architecture, a PCEF is informed about how a subscriber is charged but it does not apply the charging. Instead it interfaces with an Offline (OFCS) or Online Charging Solution (OCS)charging, rating and account balance management functionto implement the actual charging. Openets rating product includes counter functionality, which for the use cases below will perform the quota management function. This gives operators huge flexibility, enabling operators to determine on a per services basis, which services are to be charged in an offline versus online mode and hence require real-time quota controls. It is the function of the OCS to strictly control rating decisions and to grant or deny a request for credit. This credit can be based on quota limitstime, volume, or event. In the latest release, 3GPP Release 8, a number of new capabilities have been added, including Policy peering which enables policy rules to follow subscribers whenever they roam or are utilizing visited networks (See Figure 1, page 6). Positives: Centralizes pre- and post-paid policies; highly flexible; policies can be added to extend solution investment; standards-based; scalable architecture to support policies and transactions. Negatives: Release 8 has not been implemented; for a single use-case could be considered over-engineered. Initiating a Laptop Roaming Data Session with Quota and Advice-of-Charge The diagram below is an example call-flow for a post-paid EU subscriber using a laptop while roaming in the EU. This scenario shows Policy determining the roaming status and policies to be applied to a session. In conjunction with the OCS it determines what bundles and rate should be applied to the data session. The data roaming balance will be maintained in the quota management function. Note also, that the Advice-of-Charge notification, in this case a re-direct to the service providers portal is free-of-charge.
SGSN /GGSN PCEF Policy Charging Rating Subscriber Profiles Portal

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Create PDP Context CCR _i User-Authorization-Request (MSISDN, IP Address, Session Id., MCC-MNC, SGSN IP Address, APN ) CCA _Re-Direct ( Subscriber ID, Service Status, Service Name, Flow Status, Service Name, Flow Status, rating..) Establish PDP Context HTTP Request Redirect _AoC_Walled_Garden: Zero Rate Accept Roaming Threshold_50 Threshold_Counter_50 Roaming_Profile_Update Roaming_Profile_Ack RAR (Remove Re-direct) HTTP Request Quota_Request_CCR Counter_Request_Threshold Counter_Answer_Yes Rate_Request Rate_Response Grant_Quota_CCA Look-up_Roaming_SGSN Roaming _Profile_R Roaming _Profile_A Yes_Roaming_SGSN_EU_Country

Quota Enforcement and Re-direction to Increase Limit In the diagram below, the post-paid subscriber above, has consumed his initial quota, and the session is being re-directed to provide the subscriber with an option to extend their session, by selecting a different threshold. Because this architecture is adhering to 3GPP standards, the OCS manages the quota and applies the appropriate policies as directed by Policy. In this example, the customer has selected the option to continue the data session. Note: the re-direct to continue the session is free-of-charge to the subscriber.
SGSN /GGSN Subscriber Profiles

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PCEF

Policy

Charging

Rating

Portal

In Session Request CCR _U Quota_Depleted Counter_R_Threshold

Counter_Threshold_Zero CCA _U Quota_Zero Re-direct CCR _U CCA _U (Redirect, New Rule, Gate Status = Block)

Re-direct Telco Walled Garden: Zero Rate

Update / Increase_Threshold_Counter Threshold_Counter_Update Roaming_Profile_Update Roaming_Profile_Ack RAR (Quota Extend) New_Rule_Allow Continue Data Session

Quota Expiration and End Session The diagram below shows our post-paid subscriber having consumed their data roaming threshold limit, as determined by the interaction of PCEF and OCS. In this case when re-directed, the subscriber does not select a higher threshold, and the data session is terminated. Note: Policy updates the subscriber policy, to ensure that no more data sessions will be initiated until the subscriber selects a new threshold or until after a new billing cycle.
SGSN /GGSN
Get Web-Page CCR _U Quota_Depleted Counter_R_Threshold Counter_Threshold_Zero CCA_U Quota_Depleted CCR _U CCA _U (Redirect, New Rule, Gate Status = Block)

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PCEF

Policy

Charging

Rating

Subscriber Profiles

Portal

Re-direct Telco Walled Garden: Zero Rate HTTP Response : Declines Quota Purchase Counter_Threshold_Zero Threshold_Zero Roaming _Profile_Update

RAR Block End_Data_Session Subscriber Re-Direct

2. Enhanced Policy-Based Approach


The 3GPP standards provides a robust architecture to address the requirements of EU data roaming directive; it also gives a solid foundation for implementing future policies, such as fair usage and tiered data services. However, where operators are time or resource constrained to comply with EU Data Roaming regulation, there are other approaches. An enhanced Policy Control-based solution to control gating, notifications, and service measurement can be used to comply with data roaming directive. The enhancement made to the standards2 is that Policy interfaces with external rate tables, or with rate tables duplicated in the adjunct rating using a non-standard interface (See Figure 2, Page 10). This is done to take advantage of the tight integration of these products provided by FusionWorks and of non-standard Gx+ capabilities provided by PCEFs, where volume consumed is reported to the PCRF. This enhancement enables the existing Billing and pre-paid balance management systems to be unaffected by the requirements of the EU Data Roaming directive, with data roaming traffic, quota management, and notifications being managed as an adjunct to existing BSS. Using the session-guiding abilities to identify roaming post-paid sessions and to manage data balances associated with this. It also provides a low-cost and highly flexible approach to extending notifications and triggering cut-offs for pre-paid data balances.

2 Note: this can be migrated, at a later date, to a 3GPP standards based approach, with Gy, Gz, Sp, and Rx

interfaces being integrated later.

This is a lightweight approach to handling post-paid data traffic in a real-time environment. It provides a single point of control for ALL roaming data traffic, sitting in front of the existing post- and pre-paid architecture, interacting directly with the PCEF. For operators that use separate rating systems for post-paid and pre-paid subscribers, this approach brings postpaid accounts into a real-time environment, with the least disturbance to the post-paid billing infrastructure. With Openet, this can be extended at a later date to a 3GPP compliant PCC architecture.

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Figure 2: 3GPP compliant PCC Architecture

Positives: a lightweight approach; PCRF manages service data charging flows and provides integration into billing; leverages FusionWorks to extends IN-like functionality to managing roaming data in real-time; no need to upgrade the post-paid billing system to try to make it real-time; do not need to migrate postpaid subscriber base into the IN. Negatives: must ensure rate plans are duplicated and synchronized; non-standard approach, but can be migrated to fully 3GPP compliant PCC architecture. Initiating a Laptop Roaming Data Session with Quota and Advice-of-Charge The diagram below is an example call-flow for an post-paid EU subscriber using a laptop while roaming in the EU. This scenario shows Policy determining the roaming status, policies AND managing sessions, with inputs provided by rating. Note that the Advice-of-Charge notification, in this case a re-direct to the service providers portal is free-of-charge.
SGSN /GGSN
Create PDP Context CCR _i User-Authorization-Request (MSISDN, IP Address, Session Id., MCC-MNC, SGSN IP Address, APN ) CCA _re-direct Establish PDP Context HTTP_Request ( Subscriber ID, Service Status, Service Name, Flow Status, Service Name, Flow Status, rating..) Redirect _AoC_Walled_Garden: Zero Rate Accept Roaming Threshold_50 Threshold_Counter_50 Roaming_Profile_Update Update_Ack RAR (remove redirect) HTTP_Request Quota_Request_CCR Counter_Request_Threshold Counter_Answer_Yes Rate_Request Rate_Response Grant_Quota_CCA Profile_Request Billing_Rating_Criteria

PCEF

Policy

Rating

Subscriber Profiles

Portal

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Quota Enforcement and Re-Direction to Increase Limit In the diagram below, our post-paid subscriber has consumed his initial quota, and the session is being re-directed to provide the subscriber with an option to extend their session, by selecting a different threshold. Policy is providing the quota and session management. In this example, the customer has selected the option to continue the data session. Note again that the re-direct to continue the session, is free-of-charge to the subscriber.

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SGSN /GGSN

PCEF

Policy

Rating

Subscriber Profiles SPR

Portal

Portal

In Session Request CCR _U Counter_R_Threshold Counter_Threshold_Zero CCR _U Threshold Zero, with Re-direct (Warn, Block, Re-Direct)

Re-direct Telco Walled Garden: Zero Rate Update / Increase_Threshold_Counter Threshold_Counter_Update Roaming_Profile_Update Update_Ack

RAR (Quota Extend) Continue Data Session New_Rule_Allow

Quota Expiration and End Session The diagram below shows our post-paid subscriber having consumed his data roaming threshold limit. In this case when re-directed, the subscriber does not select a higher threshold, and the data session is terminated. Note: Policy updates the subscriber policy, to ensure that no more data sessions will be initiated until the subscriber selects a new threshold or until after a new billing cycle.
/GGSN SGSN
Get Web-Page CCR _U Quota_Depleted Counter_R_Threshold Counter_Threshold_Zero CCA_U Quota_Depleted CCR _U CCA _U (Redirect, New Rule, Gate Status = Block) (Warn, Block, Redirect)

SGSN

PCEF

PCEF

Policy

Rating

Subscriber Profiles SPR

Portal

Portal

Re-direct Telco Walled Garden: Zero Rate HTTP Response : Declines Quota Purchase Counter_Threshold_Zero Roaming_Profile_Update Update_Ack

RAR_Quota _Exhausted END_Data_Session Subscriber Re-Direct

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Beyond Regulations To A Value Added Service


The effect of the EU roaming regulation will be mainly felt in the BSS layer. With BSS already full work schedule, the regulation sets BSS departments a tight deadline for compliance. With a flexible OSS/BSS layer it is possible to comply with the regulatory deadlines, and minimize disruption to existing business plans. Depending on network and rating complexity, operators should be aiming to complete BSS changes to meet their regulatory requirements in 12-15 weeks.

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In addressing the requirements for the EU Data Roaming regulation, operators acquire the capability to dynamically control subscriber entitlement to network resources, using policy controls. Operators can offer spend controls to their subscribers on their home networks, ensuring subscribers receive the same rich, end-user experience as when they are roaming. This capability can be used to offer new data bundles, which a subscriber may purchase when roaming. It also enables greater personalization of services and more targeted offerings, through the implementation of policy controls based on individual subscribers attributes including fair usage, tiered service controls, and parental controls. As networks become more complex, centralized policy controls reduce the administrative overhead of managing and maintaining hundreds of policies distributed throughout the network, and improves control over the integrity of the policy catalogue. To find out more go to www.openet.com

Contact
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