Technology Showcase: Sponsored Data Connectivity

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1 Contents Executive Summary... 1 Sponsored Data Overview... 2 Sponsored Data Solution Breakdown... 2 Specific Sponsored Data Example Deep Dive... 3 Implementation and Subscriber Experience... 4 In-Browser notification option... 6 Postpaid Integration with Usage Detail Records (UDRs)... 7 Conclusion... 8 Executive Summary In today s mature, saturated data-delivery markets, the focus of every Communication Service Provider (CSP) has turned to service innovation; that is, the ability to offer innovative products and plans to subscribers to generate value that truly differentiates. Revenue from traditional cash cows, such as mobile voice and texting, is trending downward, further pressuring CSPs to fill the revenue gap with innovative subscriber services. One such revenue extension technique generating a lot of interest from CSPs is sponsored data connectivity, where a third party pays for a subscriber s data usage. Sponsored data connectivity is a good candidate use case for penetrating mobile data markets with low broadband usage - it induces subscribers to either try data for free or increase their usage while operators still gets paid for consumed bandwidth. This Technology Showcase presents Sandvine s broad solution for sponsored data connectivity in fixed and mobile networks. This paper also takes a deep dive into a specific implementation that leverages charging over both Gy and Gx, highlighting the incredible versatility of the Sandvine Policy Engine.

2 Sponsored Data Overview As the market for generating revenue from subscriber subscription reaches saturation, service providers are turning to revenue extension techniques to supplement broadband data revenues. One such revenue extension technique is sponsored data connectivity, where a third party pays for a subscriber s data usage. Sponsored data connectivity is a good candidate use case for penetrating mobile data markets with low broadband usage - it induces subscribers to either try data for free or increase their usage while the Communications Service Provider (CSP) still gets paid for consumed bandwidth. The criteria for sponsorship can be based on a selection made from a visit to a free portal, or a subscriber s location, or a subscriber s demographic profile. The sponsor benefits through advertising and other promotions, or by offering a purchase in return for free data connectivity. This technology showcase provides a complete overview of Sandvine s versatile solution for sponsored data connectivity in fixed and mobile networks. In addition, the paper dives deeper into a particular implementation that utilizes standards-based diameter Gx and Gy communication for mobile broadband to illustrate the dexterity of Sandvine s platform and Policy Engine. Sponsored Data Solution Breakdown Sandvine offers a complete sponsored data connectivity solution through the Usage Management product, which performs the following main functions: Data metering Prioritizing sponsored data traffic according to regulations and market requirements Charging third-party sponsor according to policy Additional actions can also apply, depending on the specific use case, including the following: Subscriber communication/advertising using in-browser notification via watermark Managing traffic (shaping or prioritizing) Transparent divert to third-party sponsor media server Operators use Control Center s ServiceDesigner feature to quickly and easily define the sponsorship plan using a clear, intuitive interface with drag and drop functionality. Control Center allows CSPs to make real-time plan adjustments on-the-fly, ensuring that provisioning is never the bottleneck to realizing additional revenue from innovative service ideas. Figure 1: Control Center ServiceDesigner Plan Editor Page 2

3 Sandvine supports deploying a sponsored data connectivity use case using any or a combination of all four Usage Management feature sets as shown in Figure 2. Figure 2: Sandvine sponsored connectivity implementations 1. In the Online Charging implementation, usage is metered and reported over Diameter Gy to an Online Charging System (OCS). 2. In the Policy Enforcement implementation, usage is metered and reported over Diameter Gx to a PCRF, such as Sandvine s Service Delivery Engine (SDE). 3. In the Quota Manager implementation, usage is metered and reported via SOAP to the Business Support System (BSS). 4. For any of implementations 1-3, the Record Generator is available to stream records to an offline database in support of big data and customer experience management initiatives. As an fourth alternative, Record Generator can also feed offline records to an OFCS for postpaid sponsor charging. Specific Sponsored Data Example Deep Dive One aspect that makes this specific example interesting is that both Diameter Gx and Gy are used in concert to enable the use case. In this case, a mobile operator uses an OCS for regular subscriber plan usage metering. For sponsored data connectivity, the PCRF temporarily disables regular OCS metering for the duration of the sponsored data connectivity. The sponsored data connectivity quota is tracked by the PCRF using 3GPP Gx Usage Monitoring. Once the sponsored data/time limit is reached, the OCS metering is turned back on to continue tracking subscriber usage for regular plans. The specific logical deployment is shown by Figure 3. Page 3

4 Figure 3: Sponsored connectivity architecture Tandem OCS/PCRF usage Management deployment Implementation and Subscriber Experience In this particular implementation, the subscriber is offered sponsored data connectivity based on their market segment demographic, such as subscriber home address or socio economic profile, and not based on their mobile cell location. The mobile operator can target the market segment demographic that is most likely to have low exposure to broadband data to show the subscriber the value of broadband data with social media, mapping directions and other high value applications. Other possible deployments may incorporate location information for geo-specific promotions. The subscriber starts their data session (logs in and receives default PCRF rules) and the OCS monitors their regular plan data usage (if applicable). The subscriber browses a captive portal maintained by the mobile operator that provides a list of sponsors offering free limited data usage in exchange for being redirected to the sponsor s portal. The master portal itself can be maintained and paid for by the operator, or by the sponsors, or a combination depending on the specific business agreement. Clicking on a particular sponsor message in the master portal causes the subscriber to be redirected to that sponsor s website. The subscriber accepts or registers for some kind of promotion from the sponsor (videos, promotional material, discounted entertainment tickets, etc.). The free mobile data quota, in this case 10 MB of usage over two days, is sent to the mobile operator s B/OSS to provision and activate two days of data usage for the subscriber. The B/OSS then pushes the free, limited time/quota to the PCRF where it then triggers the network interaction shown by Figure 4. Page 4

5 Figure 4: Sponsored - optional default regular usage When the subscriber accepts an offer of free data usage, the PCRF is informed and sends rules to the Sandvine PTS to turn off web access redirection to the sponsored data connectivity portal and track further usage against the sponsor s monitoring key (MK) instead of the subscriber s regular, OCStracked plan usage. When the subscriber exhausts their sponsored data connectivity, the PTS updates the PCRF, the PCRF removes the Gx usage monitoring rule, and metering reverts back to the OCS-tracked usage defined by the subscriber s regular quota plan, as shown by Figure 5. Page 5

6 Figure 5: Sponsored - reverting to optional default regular usage In-Browser notification option Sandvine s sponsored data connectivity solution includes the option of inserting advertising as an In- Browser Notification (IBN) watermark, a feature of the Subscriber Communications product. Advertising could be based on location (residential or cell site location) and can be simple images or videos that appears briefly in a specified location in the subscriber s browser. Sandvine IBN use cases are currently being deployed in five service provider networks located in North America and various locations in Asia and the Middle East. Figure 6 shows an example of IBN in support of roaming notification. Page 6

7 Figure 6: Subscriber Communications IBN feature example Postpaid Integration with Usage Detail Records (UDRs) Optionally, in cases where a PCRF integration is not desired, sponsored data connectivity can be implemented using Record Generator. The difference is that connectivity volume would not be limited, so the most logical use case would be one where connectivity is limited to a specific set of URLs. Using this postpaid option, the Record Generator provides usage to an Offline Charging System (OFCS) for billing back to the sponsor while the subscriber has free unlimited access to the applicable sponsored websites. The B/OSS interfaces to Sandvine s SDE/Record Generator as shown in Figure 7. Another Record Generator alternative for postpaid usage is having Quota Manager own and track regular plans and sponsored data connectivity plans. This option, just like the PCRF case, also limits the sponsored data connectivity exposure but provides an easier integration than the PCRF case because it simply involves sending CSV formatted records to a system already designed to receive and process them. Record Generator supports tracking both regular plan usage and sponsored connectivity usage. Page 7

8 Figure 7: Sponsored post-paid Record Generator deployment Conclusion As CSPs move to innovate with new services, Sandvine is moving to support additional revenue generation with a versatile platform and Policy Engine designed to differentiate. Sponsored data connectivity is a great example of a triple-win, where subscribers get free data, sponsors achieve their marketing goals and CSPs still get paid for used data. Whatever your deployment or solution requirements, Sandvine can make sponsored data connectivity a reality in your network today. Page 8

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