A tale of two integrations: Enterprise monetization beyond the byte
Up to this point the implementation and deployment of the Charging Function (CHF) as a 5G Network Function has been focused on equivalence with current offers, especially with regard to being able to charge for data usage for consumer handsets within 5G networks.
Much is being made of the ability of vendors to deploy these charging solutions both as part of an edge and the core network. But the deployment model which is chosen will not necessarily produce or enable any new monetization opportunities for Communication Service Providers (CSPs).
What will enable them to monetize different aspects of the network is connecting the CHF to additional network functions in the 5G core, which have not previously been able to produce charging requests in a 4G LTE network and thus monetize different kinds of network events and usage beyond the byte. Allowing for both online and offline charging models will allow for reporting, aggregation and control of the usage that is charged from these integration points. Connecting to these additional network functions will also enable CSPs to grow their enterprise revenue, which our recently commissioned survey found will be a key growth area for 5G services.
In this blog, we discuss two such aspects, which have recently been completed by Nokia as part of our Nokia Converged Charging solution (NCC).
Enabling Connectivity Charging with the Access Management Function
To start, we'll look at the integration of the Access Management Function, or AMF with the CHF. The AMF will enable an entirely new class of monetization activities to be efficiently performed by a CSP. One example of such a charging activity could be provided by a CSP being able to charge for the number of unique device accesses which are made by a specific set of devices owned by an enterprise. In the case of a truck haulage solution for example, a CSP could sell the haulage company an “Access Bundle” which would enable 5G based tracking of the company’s fleet based on the registration events being performed with the cell locations. The truck company could then choose to purchase a monthly renewing bundle of connections for their trucks, with each unique access for the truck being tracked and charged depending on the number of cell site locations which the trucks pass through in that week, or based on the number of unique trucks which connect to the network.
Charging for access from the AMF is not limited, however, to purely charging for the devices connecting to the network, and can also be utilized to charge for the number of mobility events which occur on the network for a given type of device. This way, devices can be allowed a limited number of accesses or egresses from a home location, which could allow for differentiated charging, whether the device accesses the network at its home location over a 5G network connection, or at a location outside the home area. This could be useful as a way of charging for FWA linked devices and charging them a “premium usage fee” if they leave the area.
Enabling the API Economy and NaaS with the Network Exposure Function
The second critical integration which NCC has now introduced is with the Network Exposure Function (NEF).
This integration has again been added based on both online or offline charged event processing. This integration will allow for the charging and monetization of Network as a Service functions (NaaS), as well as Application Enablement use cases which will allow for enterprises to purchase network functions via Application Programming Interface (APIs) and the CSP to charge for these API calls either to the individual receiving the service or the provider of the API.
One sample use case of this integration could be to enable the charging for the creation of a high quality of service video call through a vehicle insurance application in a connected car, when it is detected that a crash or breakdown has occurred.
The CSP could charge the insurance company, the car manufacturer, or the end user based on the number of provided video calls provided by the application within the connected car. Having this capability enables the costs of these calls to the enterprise to be managed and monetized using the charging function (CHF).
Having these systems integrated in this manner would also allow for aggregation and real time counts and analytics data to be created of the number and type of breakdowns. This could be create additional revenue stream for the CSP as the data could then be packaged and sold to assist in future traffic safety solutions and also to identify areas of higher than average insurance risk.
Everyone's a winner in 5G monetization area
In summary, the enablement of these two new integrations with 5G standalone network functions will allow for a second wave of monetization of the 5G core network, that benefits both the CSP and their enterprise customers. They will give enterprises flexibility in how they manage and pay for their 5G services and allow CSPs to reach their goals of revenue and profitability through enabling them to offer and effectively charge for new services to new enterprise customers, moving beyond charging by the byte.