Beyond the byte – rethinking CHF for 5G enterprise services (Reader Forum)
For many years the telco industry has focused on charging by the byte. Online charging systems have been optimized mainly to monetize consumers’ use of data. But now it is time to think beyond the byte. With 5G, industry discussion has shifted to deploying a Charging Function (CHF) that can monetize new dimensions of network services, which can include everything from latency to speed to energy efficiency to security metrics.
Unlocking this potential requires CSPs to integrate the CHF to a larger number of network functions than with 4G. This is critical to enabling operators to process charging requests and monetize different kinds of network events and usage beyond the byte. By deploying online and offline charging models, CSPs can report, aggregate, and utilize the usage that is charged from these integration points – and these additional network functions also drive revenue growth.
Enabling connectivity charging
The integration of the Access Management Function with the CHF will unlock an entirely new class of monetization activities that can be efficiently performed by a CSP, such as charging for the number of unique device accesses, which are made by a specific set of devices owned by an enterprise. In a truck haulage scenario, for example, a CSP could sell the haulage company an “Access Bundle,” which would facilitate 5G-based tracking of the company’s fleet based on the registration events being performed with the cell locations.
The truck company now has the option 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 the trucks pass through, or based on the number of unique trucks that connect to the network. But monetizing access from the AMF is not limited to purely charging for the devices connecting to the network.
This function can also be utilized to charge for the number of mobility events that occur on the network for a given type of device. This way, devices can be allotted a limited number of accesses from a home location, which could allow for differentiated charging, whether the device accesses the network over a 5G connection at its home location, or one outside the home area.
This could be useful as a way of charging a “premium usage fee” for FWA linked devices if they leave the area.
Enabling the API economy
The second critical integration is with the Network Exposure Function (NEF) to allow for the charging and monetization of Network as a Service functions (NaaS), as well as Application Enablement use cases. This will allow enterprises to purchase network functions via Application Programming Interface (APIs) and for the CSP to charge for these calls either to the individual receiving the service or the provider of the API.
Having these systems integrated allows CSPs to aggregate and capture real time counts and analytics data outlining the number and type of breakdowns. This could create an additional revenue stream for CSPs as the data could then be packaged and sold to assist in future traffic safety solutions and identify areas of higher-than-average insurance risk.
Enabling 5G monetization
The enablement of new integrations such as these between 5G CHF and other 5G standalone network functions will allow for a second wave of monetization of the 5G core network, and will benefit both the CSP and their enterprise customers. They will also give enterprises flexibility in how they manage and pay for their 5G services while allowing CSPs to reach their revenue and profitability goals. By enabling CSPs to offer and effectively charge for new services to new enterprise customers, charging will move beyond the byte.