|Issue:||Africa and the Middle East 2007|
|Topic:||Intelligent, subscriber-aware networks|
|Title:||CEO and President|
Rami Hadar is the CEO and President of Allot Communications. He has had extensive experience establishing and leading telecommunications companies and developing business in over 30 countries worldwide. Early in his career, Mr Hadar founded and served as the CEO of CTP Systems (micro cellular networks) until its acquisition by DSP Communications. Mr Hadar continued with DSPCís executive management team for two years until Intel acquired the company. Mr Hadar went on to co-found Ensemble Communications, a broadband wireless and WiMax standard pioneer, where he served as Executive Vice President for sales and marketing. He also served as the CEO of Native Networks until its acquisition by Alcatel.
Subscriber-aware networks take advantage of devices that employ deep packet inspection, DPI, to provide detailed information about users and the types of data and applications they are using. This permits intelligent, dynamic, application control and bandwidth allocation to guarantee quality of service based upon the subscriberís changing needs. Subscriber management, which employs multiple technologies to monitor subscriber usage patterns and needs, is the ultimate goal; it lets service providers customise their application and service offerings on a per-subscriber basis.
Todayís broadband service providers live by one rule: the only constant is change. With the advent of triple play, and providers scrambling to add new services to improve their offerings and retain customers, the race to the top spot is no longer simply about access to services. The battle for the consumer will be fought over quality of content and services. For service providers, the ability to balance the quality of experience for individual users – while retaining control of network usage and cost – will require integrated strategies. It would be great if providers could guarantee the maximum level of quality at all times without having to worry about the cost of doing business. However, the reality is that to remain both competitive and profitable, providers must guarantee an expected level of quality at a competitive price, while maintaining acceptable operating cost levels. Subscriber-aware networks A subscriber-aware network is a network that is intelligently capable of identifying its subscribers based on their unique subscriber ID, regardless of the subscriberís dynamic IP or inconsistent connectivity. Service providers can therefore identify individuals or groups of subscribers and dynamically apply policies or rules to those subscribers based on changing subscriber behaviours or other network patterns. As a service provider, having a subscriber-aware network is the key to maintaining quality of service on a per-subscriber basis. Managing the experience of individuals or groups of subscribers at this level allows service providers to offer a wide range of services while meeting the quality expectations that come with constantly changing subscriber behaviour. By monitoring trends and changes in individual and group behaviour, the subscriber service options, packages and prices can be refined constantly to meet demand and to build revenue and customer satisfaction. Setting the baseline With todayís IP networks, unless one can monitor network and user behaviour itís impossible truly to understand how subscribers are using broadband services and the impact usage has on the network and overall quality. One can apply intelligent strategies to control network activity once a window into the network is established. The network itself becomes intelligent – playing an active role in managing service levels and enforcing policies designed to maintain high-quality service. The best way to gain visibility into the network is to utilize deep packet inspection, DPI, technology, which identifies content in the packetís header and payload. DPI technology segments packets by protocol, application type and patterns within data payloads, offering detailed visibility into traffic usage and trends. This level of visibility permits understanding of how the usersí protocols and applications are behaving, and is the first step in controlling traffic and usage down to the subscriber level. With this baseline in place, the next step is to implement a model to control traffic based on what you know from DPI. Called application control, this step allows a business to manage intelligently the resources allocated to applications on the network. It relies on DPI for application recognition and allows a business to classify traffic and assign actions to each traffic class to create network rules, or policies. Application control can be achieved through special devices. They take the data collected by DPI to classify applications and assign actions. For example, if peer-to-peer traffic is hindering network performance, a pre-set application control policy can segment this traffic to a portion of the network, opening up more bandwidth for critical applications, such as email. Application types can also be set to maintain a maximum level of bandwidth constantly. Subscriber management Just beyond application management is the ultimate goal – subscriber management. Multiple technologies converge to make subscriber management possible. First is the visibility and monitoring from DPI. This baseline tells the service provider which applications and what subscribers are on the network. Second, application control manages the applications and their usage. Tying these together with subscriber management allows service providers to view trends and behaviour patterns on a combined per-subscriber and per application basis and enables the customisation of deliverables based on set subscriber policies. Subscriber management allows a provider to: ï offer a variety of service package options for specific users or application types; ï provide consistent delivery of service level agreements; ï guarantee quality of experience for all residential or business subscribers; ï identify opportunities for increased levels of customer service and usage-based charging; and, ï send usage statistics to operational support systems for integrated charging and provisioning Subscriber management can target specific groups of subscribers, such as voice-over-IP, VoIP, users, gamers, businesses, high-bandwidth users, casual users, peer-to-peer, P2P, users, P2P-free users and others. Matching subscriber needs with offerings improves the quality of experience and facilitates the development of pricing models for different packages that generate new revenues. For targeted package examples, see table 1. Through the combination of DPI, application control and subscriber management, the network becomes subscriber-aware. It is able to identify dynamically what is on the network, manage the allocation of network resources and apply policies per subscriber. Mapping the connection between individual subscribers and the services they consume creates the ability to mass customise and to optimise network resources. Reaping the rewards A subscriber-aware network is designed to provide the best user experience in order to increase loyalty in an increasingly competitive market. It enables providers to reduce both capital and operational expenses and, in turn, invest in technologies that reduce customer churn, maximise the subscriber base and improve charging procedures. In a subscriber-aware network, service providers can dramatically increase average revenue per user, ARPU, by reliably delivering tiered services designed to meet a subscriberís specific behaviour and usage needs. For service providers, this means maintaining the highest level of service, increasing the number of service offerings and improving the quality of experience. It also means improved customer service when trouble arises to limit complaints and speed up complaint response time. The visibility achieved through DPI facilitates the identification and rapid correction of network deficiencies. Through real-time and long-term monitoring of subscriber data, service providers can identify and develop the most profitable services, structure tiered service plans and optimise existing services. The ability to target users with promotions can also lead to greater adoption of new services and plans. A subscriber-aware network can better analyse and report on subscriber behaviour to determine how it impacts the business model. Changes based on behaviour can be designed to direct broadband resources toward more profitable pricing models. Effective subscriber policy control and quota management also creates greater opportunity for innovative service packaging and pricing. For example, with the ability to meter usage, enforce quality of service and generate usage statistics and accounting records, providers can more easily deploy joint revenue models with alternate providers or non-provisioned services, such as gaming and VoIP applications. Creating the subscriber-aware network One example of a business that implemented a subscriber-aware network is True Internet, a subsidiary of Thailandís True Corporation Plc and one of the fastest-growing ISPs in Asia with more than 400,000 business and residential customers. Recently, True Internet Thailand introduced its High-Speed Internet-Unlimited services package, allowing residential and corporate Internet subscribers to access downstream Internet speeds of up to 4,096 Kbps and upstream speeds up to 512 Kbps. The demand for bandwidth increased dramatically and the popularity of the package quickly overwhelmed the company. To guarantee a high-quality experience for every user, in light of the surge in bandwidth demand, the company needed to identify and manage the applications traversing its network. By implementing a broadband management device and a subscriber management platform, True Internet Thailand gained a subscriber-aware network. They could identify and create policies to allocate sufficient as-needed bandwidth for popular applications such as Web access and email. True Internet Thailand found it could also control the amount of bandwidth allocated to high bandwidth applications, allowing subscribers to continue using these applications without degrading the entire network service quality. Using information on subscriber behaviour and short- and long-term usage trends gathered through DPI, True Internet Thailand then utilized subscriber management capabilities to roll out new packaged services based on individual subscriber demand and preferred delivery. Administrators were able to create and deliver tiered service level agreements giving subscribers a choice of customised service packages designed to meet their specific needs. ìPrecise bandwidth control allows us to offer a truly affordable ADSL plan and ensure that customer satisfaction exceeds 80 per cent. We are adding more than 10,000 new subscribers each week and our business has more than doubled,î says Dr Viriya Upatising, Chief Technical Officer of True Internet. ìSince the large corporate sector, mainly multinational corporations, governmental accounts and the education sector, consider service level agreements and bandwidth guarantees as key concerns, we are confident that Ö True Internet can effectively deliver services for this segment,î he added.