New research from analyst firm Heavy Reading showed that the majority of tier one mobile operators plan to integrate policy servers with existing charging and billing systems rather than deploy pre-integrated policy and charging systems from a single vendor.
The report, "Policy, Charging & Billing: What Tier 1 Operators Want," finds that scaling pre-integrated solutions based on proprietary interfaces between policy and charging may be a stumbling block here, especially if it entails high professional service costs.
Mobile broadband solutions provider, Tekelec, sponsored the Heavy Reading survey of 30 respondents in network planning, engineering, CTO, sales, marketing, product development and customer support departments for service providers with revenues above $1 billion.
"Only a minority of the Tier one respondents said they would deploy pre-integrated policy and charging solutions in the medium term," said Graham Finnie, chief analyst at Heavy Reading and author of the report. "The majority is seeking good interoperability and integration of policy with independent charging systems, using standardized interfaces wherever possible."
In the report, nearly 70 percent of tier ones said they will use the policy server (a policy and charging rules function, or PCRF) to perform some charging or rating functions and that tier one operators have run into significant challenges implementing online charging for data. For example, almost 60 percent cited higher costs due to customization and professional services.
The survey also shows that more than one-third of service providers believe that the new Sy interface, due out in 2012, will simplify integration between policy servers and charging systems.
"Service providers want maximum flexibility, scalability and signaling efficiency in their policy servers, coupled with an easy-to-use rules engine and analytics to create and evolve services. An independent, best-of-breed policy server is the best way to meet these requirements," said Doug Suriano, chief technology officer at Tekelec. "We have integrated our policy server with charging systems across dozens of tier one operators. The release of the new Sy interface will improve integration with charging systems and eliminate cumbersome, proprietary approaches that limit scalability and increase costs."