Policy control is the most crucial element of 5G – yet no one’s talking about it

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With just weeks to go before Informa’s annual Policy Control conference, it seemed like a good idea to catch up with some of the speakers to see what they want to discuss at the event. Policy is, of course, at the heart of the digital discussion for the next few years, and one speaker, Shira Levine, believes it is critical for the monetization of services.

Levine, previously an industry analyst with IDC and more recently with IHS Markit, is now director of product management with real-time specialist Openet. A key development that Levine sees is the ability to identify network traffic. A conference such as this now has to cover a wide range of elements, from SDN to NFV and, of course, the road to 5G. In Levine’s view, however, the road to 5G is a long one.

Policy, believes Levine, and the ability to decouple the decision functionality from the network means that the potential is there for operators to innovate. She is, however, not convinced that the “build it and they will come” mentality has completely disappeared from operators’ thinking. “There is still a tendency to say ‘we want X’ without really matching that requirement with their goals.”

The same applies to IMS. Years ago, IMS was once the buzzword of the day, and was even in most operators’ strategic plans. The problem was that no one really knew why. VoLTE finally brought IMS into focus.

Whilst the transition between 3G and 4G has been reasonably straightforward, 5G – when it comes – will be a revolution, and as such, says Levine, “use cases for 5G will be much more collaborative than before.” Certainly some use cases are already being written. Autonomous vehicles is one clear example, where the quality of data is vital for success.

“It’s not so much about bandwidth but more about QoS,” says Levine. “In fact, one thing that has not been discussed in 5G is revenue assurance. It will be vital and has to be incredibly responsive. Imagine if you are offering cloud-based services and have a data center footprint agreement with the government. You will need to spin network resources up and down very fast. How will you know if you are breaking the agreement?’

There is clearly much to be discussed between now and the widespread adoption of 5G, and much will be discussed at the forthcoming Policy Control conference.

At the top of Shira Levine’s agenda, though, will be monetization of services and revenue assurance.

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