Q&A: AT&T policy management
Connected Planet spoke with Farooq Bari, lead member of AT&T’s technical staff, about the standards and frameworks intended to expedite the convergence and innovation of fixed and mobile technologies, networks and devices.
What do most operators want when it comes to policy management?
The goal is a well-designed policy management framework that can ensure a consistent user experience across all access technologies, devices and networks. We want the same commercial-grade service guarantees in an IP-, packet-switched world that we experienced in the circuit-switched world where network resources were guaranteed. For something like voice over IMS in a cellular network you would need reservation of resources over the radio links so that the voice quality is consistent as with circuit-switched voice. This cannot happen with packet switched networks unless you have a policy based network management framework of some sort.
Is there work being done that makes you feel this will happen?
To improve QoS and dynamic charging, there is a need for policy-based approaches. The policy and charging control (PCC) architecture from 3GPP continues to improve [PCC is a component of the evolved packet core (EPC)]. We feel it helps us manage network resources using policies like rules for better QoS guarantees.
When we looked at the work done by various wireless and wireline forums like3GPP, ITU-T, and ETSI we saw independent efforts that resulted in different policy frameworks. However through efforts of companies like AT&T this has begun to change. An example of this is a recent gap analysis work performed by ATIS to understand state of standards in this area and to recommend a way forward. Another example is the ongoing collaboration between 3GPP and Broadband Forum that will allow interworking between wireless and wireline policy frameworks, These industry efforts will help us realize usage scenarios where the same service can move to any device, technology or network, so if a customer is on a smart phone watching a video it can move the same service to a high-def TV without any loss of video quality. [ATIS recently released a report on policy management and converged services]. This would make customers feel better about their services and help build loyalty and a willingness to try new services.
Do you feel things are moving along as they should or are there hindrances?
Well, we are involved in different capacities with 3GPP, Broadband Forum and ATIS. I think everyone wants to speed cycle times and facilitate innovation, but you do sometimes get different interests from different parties that tend to slow things down; but things continue to move in the right direction.
All the major operators are involved and you see the Forums making alliances for fixed/mobile convergence, like the recent Broadband Forum and 3GPP announcement, which also includes members of ETSI TISPAN, ATIS and other standards bodies.
Is the work geared more toward mobile or fixed operators, or do you feel it is equally beneficial to both?
I feel that the converged services operators are currently the most interested, but even the mobile only operators in different roaming scenarios will benefit from the work as they will be able to forge different types of agreements with wireline operators that wouldn’t be possible today.
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