Highway to heaven…. or not..

Does PCC and DPI, Policy Charging & Control and Deep Packet Inspection, sound familiar to you? Two dull acronyms at first sight, they might hold the key to operator profitable and consumer attractive mobile broadband. As a concept it comes as a win-win where consumers get better quality out of their connections and operators find a way out of the ineffective all-you-can-eat-for-everyone data plans. In practice, this puzzle is more complicated to solve.

Policy Charging & Control essentially means the capability of controlling broadband speed and quality among users in a granular fashion. The basics are already in place: most mobile broadband subscriptions have some kind of data transfer and bandwidth limitation such as lowering the broadband speed for users who have hit a monthly limit. PCC aims beyond these basics and includes real-time, on-demand bandwidth quality depending on which service the consumer uses, among other things.

To identify if someone is using e.g. Hulu, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora or just browsing the web, Deep Packet Inspection is put in use. DPI is a technique used in Internet security for many years, in which everything in a data stream is analyzed and acted upon. In the mobile broadband world, DPI opens up for new business models and better service experience for consumers. If you need high bandwidth to watch high quality video or listen to music you can get served with that for just the few moments you want it, without having to pay for high bandwidth all the time.

Analyst firms have has rated PCC/DPI as very up and coming. However, PCC and DPI technology is still relatively early stage and many operators will face challenges in finding a performance efficient and cost effective implementation. On the other hand, PCC and DPI in combination with smart marketing and tighter relationships with third-party services could be a key differentiator for a bitpipe operator.

The trick is to make sure PCC and DPI offers support the business visions and technology environments in reality, not only in product brochures and glossy marketing. A well reviewed alignment of vision/strategy and implementation is more relevant than ever in this complex matter. And remember that PCC/DPI technology has no value in itself, but well applied it can become a game changer. Make sure to do the strategic considerations necessary, otherwise you might have a game changer for the worse.

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