3GPP Policy & Charging

A complex world calls for a flexible 3GPP policy control solution

The requirements for 3GPP policy control have rapidly changed only over the last few years. From simple policies such as monthly upload limits and parental control, the policies used today are far more complex and need to be changed more frequently in order for the operator to stay competitive.

3GPP policy control PCRF requirements


Aptilo’s policy and charging core – available as an integral part of the Aptilo Service Management Platform™ for handling policies in 3GPP networks (3GPP PCRF) has an inherent flexibility to meet these new 3GPP policy control requirements. Furthermore, it has a number of value-added functions that go beyond the scope of a traditional Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF).

Dynamic service definitions

Although Aptilo has been working with policy management solutions since long before the 3GPP PCRF node was defined, our policy and charging core (PCRF+) is new enough to be designed for the more dynamic policy control requirements of today’s mobile operators. It is no longer sufficient just to have a fixed set of parameters that can be dynamically changed. Operators cannot remain competitive when they must wait for the next software release or custom development to add a new parameter and business logic.

Redefining what flexibility really means

With Aptilo’s policy and charging core new parameters and business logic can be dynamically added as configuration of the system. In the highly competitive mobile broadband market this can mean the difference between taking the first initiative and winning or being stuck with existing business models and losing.

Interface-agnostic policy control engine

The application layer in Aptilo’s policy and charging core is separated from the interface layer. The most common protocol adapters are already implemented:

  • Mobile Core & RAN: Diameter, RADIUS, BGP and SNMP

Additional new interfaces – even proprietary ones – can be introduced through Aptilo’s flexible protocol adapter concept.

Helping mobile operators save on costs

There are a number of ways that Aptilo can help mobile operators to save on costs. The best part of all is that the flexibility of Aptilo’s 3GPP policy and charging solution will dynamically add more ways, all of which can be implemented with a simple configuration by the operator.

Fair-use policies

With the ever-increasing launch of new device types and applications with demand for mobile broadband and the fact that the top 1% of the subscribers stand for 24% (Source: Cisco VNI) of the mobile data traffic, mobile operators need to set policies to obtain a fair use of network resources. With Aptilo, the operator can take control by defining volume data caps, enable different service plans for different user segments and even different device types. Policies can be defined to set usage conditions such as restricting usage of certain applications.

Differentiated rating for Wi-Fi usage

Mobile operators that use Wi-Fi for offloading traffic from the cellular network can apply different ratings in the Wi-Fi network to stimulate usage there. Aptilo’s 3GPP policy control solution can provide the Access network discovery and selection function (ANDSF) with policies enabling intelligent offload by deciding when and where users should be offloaded to Wi-Fi. Furthermore, Aptilo’s deep experience with carrier-class Wi-Fi will also help the operator control the user experience also in the Wi-Fi network.

Service-triggered QoS changes

Instead of allowing a high bandwidth usage at all times, services such as video-on-demand (VoD) can automatically trigger a higher bandwidth for the duration of the movie.

Speed throttling in thresholds

Thanks to the tight integration of policy and charging, speeds can be throttling down in thresholds with different speeds depending on how much of the monthly allowance has already been consumed.

Tiered service based on time of day and day of week

Policies can be set to e.g. prioritize businesses during daytime / weekdays and consumers after hours / week-ends as well as use of differentiated rating at different hours.

Web self-care triggered service changes

Aptilo’s optional Web self-care portal or integration with an existing portal enables operators to automatically trigger a policy change as a result of a subscriber’s on-line Web self-care activities.

More effective use of available IP addresses and routing

With Aptilo’s policy-based IP assignment and routing control, the operator can assign IP from a common IP-address pool rather than anchoring IP blocks for each GGSN. This provides a more effective use of available address space. The policy-based IP routing allows the operator to flexibly route only parts of the traffic through high-cost nodes such as DPI systems.

Helping mobile operators gain additional revenue

As discussed in the overview section, Aptilo’s policy and charging core has a number of value-added functions. Functions that will help mobile operators to monetize their 3GPP policy control solution by gaining additional revenue.

Ad-hoc services with online signup

Using Aptilo’s optional Web Portal subsystem or integrating with an existing Web portal allows mobile operators to gain additional revenues by offering ad-hoc services with a cost-effective online signup model. This can be everything from top-up of data allowances, Video-on-Demand (VoD), VoIP and security services.

Selling public IP addresses

With Aptilo’s policy-based IP assignment and routing, the mobile operator can easily offer public IP addresses as an additional service.

Tiered services

With the flexibility in Aptilo’s 3GPP policy control solution, the mobile operator can easily define new services, even for shorter periods, allowing them to find additional revenue streams. The services can be based on any combination of data volume, time, speed, applications or any other parameter that the operator may want to add in the service definition.

Policy-controlled user interaction

With the highly personalized services enabled by the Aptilo 3GPP policy control solution it is important to be able to engage and communicate with subscribers in an automatic and controlled manner.

Bill shock prevention

Aptilo’s 3GPP policy control solution enables operators to comply with the regulations around bill shock prevention with automatic notifications to users when they are over a certain threshold in their data usage or are roaming. Furthermore, it allows the operator to engage with customers in real-time to encourage them to spend more on e.g. roaming by giving them control and visibility over their spending status. Thresholds can also be set by the subscribers with associated warnings through Aptilo’s optional Web self-care portals or through integration with existing portals.


Operators can reenforce their brand by executing well-balanced marketing programs through notifications of new services or reminders of services. Offerings can be localized by triggering notifications based on location data.

Loyalty programs

Subscribers can be engaged through notifications and rewarded based on length of relationship, spending and any other parameters that the operator wants to define in their loyalty program.

Parental control

Parents worry about their children’s online behavior. With Aptilo, the operator can offer policies for parental control with Web content filtering, time-of-day restrictions and spending limits. With the optional hierarchical account structure, families can share e.g. the same prepaid quota and distribute it over several family members and device types. The optional Web self-care portal allows parents to define parental control parameters for their individual child.

Corporate control

The same features used for parental control can also be used for helping corporate accounts control their mobile phone expenditures. Policies for private and business use of the phone can be set with billing of private use over a certain limit directed through the billing system to the individual end-user.

Embracing a Distributed Policy Model

Policies reside in many different nodes. In reality, operators have a distributed policy model. Insightful policy decisions are also increasingly dependent on real-time data from the production environment.

Aptilo PCRF+ is designeed to work well in a distributed policy environmentThanks to the highly flexible protocol adapter concept and the Aptilo ServiceGlue™ with intelligent data lookups from external data sources, the Aptilo policy and charging core is designed to work well in a distributed policy environment. It can lookup policies from the different distributed policy functions and then make a new policy decision based on that in combination with real-time data and its own comprehensive and dynamic policy definitions. Aptilo 3GPP policy control solution also provides extensive means of retrieval of real-time as well as historical session information which facilitates dynamic and intelligent policy design decisions and business analysis.

Wi-Fi Policies

With the rapid growth of mobile data offloading to Wi-Fi implementations, operators need to handle policies both for the 3GPP and Wi-Fi networks.

Existing policy control systems (PCRFs) may not have the best features for handling policies in the Wi-Fi network. Aptilo has significant experience in handling policies for carrier-class Wi-Fi networks. In these situations the Aptilo policy and charging core can act as a distributed policy node for handling Wi-Fi policies in concert with the existing PCRF.