This article originally appeared in The Fast Mode.
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution – that’s worth remembering because even as mobile operators roll out 5G, their 4G networks are still getting upgrades and adding customers. The two technologies must coexist for at least the rest of this decade — if not longer.
“4G LTE will support more mobile broadband users than 5G for many years to come,” GSMA Intelligence says in its 2022 “Trends to Watch” report. “Operators must ensure that their network transformation strategies include a role for 4G, and that this focus is well understood by their network infrastructure suppliers, which will need to continue delivering 4G innovations.”
A prime example is policy control, which directly affects the customer experience and thus key bottom-line metrics such as churn and ARPU. In 5G, the Policy Control Function (PCF) defines and applies the rules for resource allocation and consumption. It’s an extension of the 4G Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), but with greater emphasis on quality of service, mobility rules, slicing and standard interfaces.
Although they have similar names, the PCF and PCRF operate in fundamentally different network architectures. For example, the PCRF was never designed to operate in 5G’s cloud native environment. Another factor is that customer devices will frequently switch between an operator’s 4G and 5G networks. That’s because it will take a few more years for 5G coverage to match 4G’s. Policies must be applied consistently as devices switch back and forth.
Read the rest of the article in The Fast Mode.
For a deeper dive into these and other key aspects of 4G-5G policy management, sign up for “Think Twice: Dual-Mode Policy in the Path to 5G Service Monetization.” This 30-minute webinar will be held Feb. 17 at 4PM CET / 10AM ET and available afterward on demand. To learn more, visit https://landing.owmobility.com/policy-webinar.