3GPP Standards for Online Charging
Performing accurate, real-time metering of Layer-7 application data traffic for prepaid charging use cases is a requirement in today’s telecommunications market. These capabilities form the foundation of many subscriber services, and are necessary both to protect subscribers from bill-shock and to protect network operators from revenue leakage.
According to the 3GPP standards, a direct, real-time interaction between the PCEF and the OCS is required to ensure accurate reporting and timeliness of the online charging mechanism.
Many systems claim to be 3GPP Gy-compliant, but lack one or both of the functional requirements (i.e., direct and real-time). These non-compliant solutions typically introduce a processing intermediary that breaks the direct connection, leading to a host of accuracy and reliability challenges that in turn cause revenue leakage and unreliable billing for all online charging use cases.
Sandvine’s Online Charging Architecture
Sandvine’s online charging architecture is completely compliant with 3GPP standards. In our architecture, the Policy Traffic Switch (PTS) – our PCEF/TDF – is connected directly, in real-time, to the online charging system (OCS).
Critically, the PTS performs the on-the-wire measurement of usage, and usage is passed directly to the OCS (i.e., it does not pass through an external intermediary or internal intermediary process).
As a result, Sandvine’s online charging solution is both accurate (i.e., measures usage correctly), and reliable (i.e., keeps working).
From the communication service provider’s perspective, failure to adhere to the strict 3GPP standards for online charging results in revenue leakage and unreliable billing for all online charging use cases. The degree of revenue leakage varies by use case based upon a handful of factors, so each must be considered separately.
If there was no difference in charging accuracy and reliability between these deployments, then non-compliance would not be of significant importance – but that is not the case. The only way for a CSP to achieve minimum revenue leakage and maximum reliability is by adhering to the 3GPP requirements.