3GPP enabling new monetization capabilities
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) by federating standard organizations, has been developing specifications for mobile communication systems for many years. At Nokia, we have been an active participant in the SA5 Charging Sub-Working Group, bringing standards evolutions for supporting charging from the earliest 3GPP new technologies and services in to the 5G era.
Standardized integration with the network drives monetization innovation
The charging function (CHF) is at the heart of effective monetization. The CHF incorporated into the 3GPP Converged Charging System (CCS) is fully integrated into the 5G System through its own series of APIs which provide the Service Based Interfaces to other network elements. The 5G evolution has defined and enabled many additional integration points between the network functions.
It is these new integration points that will provide the engine of monetization innovation in the 5G era, and without standardization, these integrations will not be able to be utilized or exploited sufficiently to justify the investment in 5G infrastructure.
We can think of this as a simple mathematical equation for CSPs:
New Integration Points + New Charging Models = Additional Revenue Opportunities
Standardization as a driver for efficiency
Charging functions and services are also using standardization efforts to drive more efficient operation within networks. The definition of sub-services within the CCS/CHF component will enable operators to efficiently utilize only those services which they require from the CHF, allowing for more efficient scaling and deployment of services rather than monolithic applications. The use of Network Registration Functions allows for more effective routing to the correct system based on both locational efficiency and being able to route based on ranges or types of device.
Release 16 brings new monetization opportunities
The 3GPP release 16 (rel-16) charging specifications, officially published in September 2020 and currently under a maintenance process, enables the expansion of the charging framework into the network slicing area allowing for new revenues opportunities for CSPs and enterprises.
In this first phase, network slice monetization is enabled in "offline charging" fashion for the Network Slice Provisioning service, as well as based on collected performances and analytics, both for a particular tenant. A new Charging Enablement Function (CEF) is introduced and intermediates with the CHF for more flexible and efficient network slice performances and analytics data collection.
This Nokia-led activity in rel-16 will unlock the ability for CSPs to sell network slices to tenants, and to charge those tenants based on wholesale, calculated from the agreed and actual performance of the network.
Rel-16 also extends the Access Management (AMF) and Network Exposure (NEF) functions.
The Access Management Function will allow for the monetization of access to the network, enabling new CSP pricing structures to be applied for devices which connect frequently, but use little data on connection. These devices require different charging and pricing structures as the Revenue Per UE will be significantly smaller as the service provided is “access” rather than “communications”.
Network Exposure Function Charging will allow for CSPs to participate in the API economy, and charge for access to network functions and services on a per usage basis to enterprises. Again, the Charging function will enable the counting and aggregation of these API based accesses, and generate persistent billing records, all following the standards as defined.
Moving Forward into 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the overall 3GPP progress and has delayed the Release 17 schedule by six months. However, the ongoing collaboration between product management and standards continues, as Release 17 of the 3GPP standards comes into focus in our product innovation plans.
Operator attention is moving from bandwidth centric solutions towards low latency and edge computing support, and Nokia’s standards team are focusing likewise on Cellular IoT, Edge Computing Network architectures and further monetization of the SLA’s of the slice. The standards have never been more dynamic, and our team are ready for defining and delivering the next phases of the 5G revolution.
Enterprises will be equally served by the introduction of these new standards-based Network function integrations, and the extended monetization models they enable.
Our Leadership in 3GPP
Operators need to get ahead of these standards in order to maximize them for their business. To effectively do that they need to partner with a vendor who is setting those standards.
Since September 2019, our Nokia representative has held the position of the SA5 Vice-Chair, increasing the visibility and importance of charging work in 3GPP. As well as driving the evolution of charging capabilities, we have played a key role in shaping the 3GPP 5G charging framework from the study period which started in 2017 to the standardized service-based foundation built from 3GPP rel-15.
Our Integrative Approach
Not only are we shaping this evolution outside of Nokia, we are ensuring that our standards representatives work hand in hand with our product teams who are defining and building solutions to customers which will utilize these 3GPP defined standards. This integrated approach allows us to bring the Market-Led innovation from our product and engineering teams to bear upon the definition of standards to allow us to operate in complex multi-vendor environments.
It is this combination of product and market-based thinking and standardization work which allows Nokia to be a true leader in 5G Monetization.