Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

Role of AAA in 5G and the IoT Ecosystem

 

24th of June 2020

Evolution of the Mobile Network

According to a report from the GSMA, the number of fifth-generation (5G) users worldwide is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2025, which is 15 percent of the global total. 5G means a significant upgrade from the last generation of mobile networks. With its higher bandwidth, low-latency, and virtualization capabilities, it has unleashed a massive IoT ecosystem, and this is expected to rapidly boost the number of devices and users on the data network, making proper IT planning imperative. As the mobile network evolves, the AAA will play a key role in acting as a bridge between devices and networks, ensuring operators are able to maximize ROI on their 5G investment.

AAA Evolution

AAA is an important service and policy control framework, enabling CSPs to control how their subscribers access and consume data services over WiFi, FTTx, 5G, and other IP-based broadband networks. It touches a number of areas within the core network and back office, from security and provisioning to billing and, most significantly, customer experience.

Over a decade ago, the core functions of AAA were in line with dialup and, later on, DSL internet networks. Today, the ever-increasing need for improving customer experience, along with rapid growth in subscriber numbers and data usage, has placed new demands on AAA functionalities.

Diameter – the next-gen industry-standard protocol used to exchange authentication, authorization, and accounting information in LTE and IP Multimedia Systems (IMS) networks – provides a generic framework for exchanging AAA messages and defines a standard set of AAA request-and-response commands and attributes. Having evolved from RADIUS, it provides more reliable, secure, and flexible transport mechanisms for mobile data networks. It is used by LTE and IMS network functions, including the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), Home Subscriber Server (HSS), and Online Charging System (OCS) elements.

In modern networks where CSPs deliver services across multiple access networks such as fixed-mobile convergence (WiFi and mobile), the broadband network requires seamless user experience while accessing services. Within broadband networks, CSPs may have multiple types of network elements acting as service delivery points and policy enforcement points. In wireless networks such as 5G, the technology goal is to expand service capabilities in various industries using high-speed mobile broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), and virtualization by embracing key technologies like RESTful APIs. This ensures optimum performance, stateless and secured network functions (NFs), and a high level of quality of service (QoS) in the 5G Service Based Architecture (SBA).

The 5G SBA’s modular framework comprises components such as AuSF (Authentication Server Function), NEF (Network Exposure Function), NRF (NF Repository Function), PCF (Policy Control Function), NSSF (Network Slice Selection Function), and UDM (Unified Data Management), allowing deployment of diverse network services and applications. A robust AAA (like Alepo’s) facilitates seamless authentication for 5G network services, including authenticating and authorizing device access:

  • To enterprise slices by integrating with an enterprise AAA server
  • From non-3GPP networks such as WiFi and broadband

Top Ways AAA Can Help Telcos

Secure Access Control

The AAA server manages user profiles, holds access credentials, device identifiers, access policies, and so on. This helps enable various access control mechanisms such as barring access for blacklisted devices, allowing limited or walled-garden access. AAA helps implement corporate access control, allowing specific devices to offer connectivity to corporate network resources.

Revenue via Service Differentiation

AAA helps manage access profiles, data caps, time limits, and more, helping launch different bandwidth plans and implement data caps that are integral to driving revenue in broadband networks. Real-time usage monitoring helps control revenue leaks.

M2M/IoT Connectivity Management

Serving an important role in managing device connectivity for M2M or IoT networks, AAA holds device-specific network parameters that allow access to a specific enterprise network. It collects usage or event details from the network and helps identify device cell location and device online status, handles usage alerts, and pushes CDRs to the billing system to charge network usage.

Enhance Customer Experience

AAA helps push changes in service parameters and policies to different subscribers without disconnecting or resetting their connections. Operators can offer better customer experience through seamless session updates whenever a customer:

  • Purchases a turbo boost bandwidth speed
  • Surpasses their fair usage policies
  • Refills balance for a prepaid account

Monitor Usage and Notifications

While monitoring usage and notifications, AAA supports enforcement of fair usage policies on reaching the defined time- and volume-based cap. It also helps standardize customer experience based on usage levels.

Monetize WiFi Access

AAA assists businesses to unlock a new revenue stream using the WiFi hotspot business model. The AAA server helps:

  • Access time- and data-based passes
  • Enable location-based services and offers
  • Allow dynamic redirection to customized captive portals

Role of AAA in 5G-IoT Ecosystem

Authenticating Slice Access

5G and network slicing are often concurrently used, though network slicing is an architectural component that helps operators design and customize different slices that run on a common physical interface. Network slicing supports a multitude of use cases and new services through 5G and also establishes multi-vendor and multi-tenant network models using shared infrastructure. According to ABI Research, network slicing creates approximately US $66 billion additional value for telecom companies.

When a device requests connectivity for a specific slice, besides 5G network authentication, the enterprise or tenant may also want to authenticate the device. This is handled by AAA, which holds the profiles of devices that can connect to the enterprise slice.

5G Slice Authenication

Authorizing Data Connectivity

As a device attempts to connect an enterprise data network, such as a mobile device that accesses streaming services, or a drone camera trying to upload images to the data center, the enterprise or tenant may want to check the device requesting connectivity and restrict access to the network resource to certain devices. AAA authenticates the device, checks whether it is authorized to access the resource, and then provides the connection parameters such as IP address and QoS for data connectivity.

5G Slice Authenication

Multi-Service Access

Enterprise AAA plays a key role in connecting and authenticating devices to an enterprise network (slice), authorizing connectivity from non-LTE/5G networks such as WiFi and broadband. When the device tries to connect to 5G networks from non-LTE/5G networks such as WiFi, broadband, AAA plays an important role in authenticating the device, authorizing connectivity to the 5G core network function to allow seamless connectivity for mobile devices from non-5G networks.

5G Slice Authenication

Popular 5G-IoT Use Cases

Smart City

5G rollout will not only deliver high-speed connectivity globally but will facilitate the ability to handle massive network connections and unlock new life-enhancing services. Smart cities will integrate devices over 5G networks to build an intelligent city with smart traffic, smart homes, parking, waste management, public safety, and smart utility facilities. Coupled with enterprise IoT, AI, AR, and VR, 5G will offer maximum potential for service innovations in building smart cities, including use cases (slices) such as healthcare, drone, education, energy, and more. Additionally, use cases like connected vehicles, high streaming voice, and video transmission from crime sites, air pollution monitoring, and surgeries using AR and VR will further enhance lives.

Entertainment and Gaming

In both the entertainment and gaming fields, IoT solutions have played a major role in helping track emerging trends and consumer tastes in entertainment and giving users highly immersive gaming experiences. IoT caters to the entertainment industry’s three major needs: strong knowledge of the latest trends and user preferences, creating immersive content, and targeted ad campaigns. Today, users enjoy a whole new level of user-engaging visual content and gaming procedures with features such as:

  • Visible texts in the screenplay of video games
  • High-level 3D and reporting models
  • Content productions via AR and VR approach

Smart Home and Smart Building

IoT, combined with 5G-enabled tools and technologies, brings more control and efficiency to intelligent buildings and at home. These tools help control the connected home, comprising appliances, lighting, entertainment, safety, security, HVAC, temperature, energy management, and more from smart devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops over the WiFi network. Smart home solutions leverage connected and automated homes by enabling users to centrally manage all devices from one location and provide device-specific instructions at just one click. IoT-enabled or smart buildings with AI-driven analytics help restructure key aspects of commercial buildings: construction, habitation, and maintenance enhancing the quality of life of occupants and staff. Building automation 2.0 covers smart building solutions covering space management, asset management, cleanliness and hygiene management, and environmental monitoring.

Smart Manufacturing

5G gives manufacturers and telecom operators the greatest opportunity to collaborate and build smart manufacturing units. By truly exploiting automation, artificial intelligence, and industrial IoT (IIoT), manufacturers can change the game of their business and discover innovative ways to adopt industry 4.0 practices. 5G RAN, network slicing, cloud infrastructure, and real-time data collection through AI build a strong vision of fully connected and automated factories. Having broader access to greater amounts of data, this use case revolutionizes the production capabilities of the manufacturing units by enabling manufacturers to generate meaningful data, which can be further used to enhance digitalization, create new revenue streams, identify operational obstacles, optimize industrial processes, and save manufacturing costs. Smart manufacturing has the maximum scope to transform businesses with complex device communications and stringent, costly, time-consuming manual processes.

Steps To Create A Winning Deployment

Virtualization

Virtualization plays an important role in any product deployment as it helps automate product delivery by using the latest NFV technologies. It helps enhance performance as it monitors network resources and can scale and heal automatically. Virtualizing the core network can also bring the benefit of network slicing and customized use cases such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, entertainment, gaming, and remote healthcare. This helps build networks that boost performance, capacity, latency, security, reliability, and coverage of the application developed.

Open Standards

Standardization like 3GPP and REST APIs are the foundation on which different products and services are developed. They bridge the gap between work processes and deliverables to ensure performance and interoperability across the mobile supply chain. This helps eliminate vendor lock-in as it is always possible to get another vendor to deploy a solution that meets industry standards.

AAA Transformation

AAA Transformation helps CSPs streamline processes and reduce all of their ownership costs. With support for all access technologies, it equips them with a single platform to deliver AAA needs across broadband, mobile, WiFi, and M2M/IoT segments. Operators can boost performance and security by integrating multivendor legacy AAA deployments into a centralized cloud environment.

Digital BSS

A digital BSS stack helps CSPs deliver digital-first customer experience and automate business processes in both 5G and IoT deployments by upgrading their legacy BSS with a new 5G-ready stack. A modular BSS delivers a complete digital transformation that helps greenfield operators with full-stack deployment and replaces legacy systems that operate in a phased approach.

Conclusion

A high-performance and robust AAA Server integrated with 5G and IoT networks can be used for multiple use cases across various industrial sectors. It helps provide cost-saving network optimizations for end-to-end business processes. Advanced virtualized AAA solutions, combined with system integrations and data migration solutions, will deploy market-leading and cost-efficient services without affecting the current system or customer experience.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

 

23rd of October 2019

The proliferation of smart devices and high-speed internet has revolutionized the telecommunications sector, and the advent of 5G is further bolstering this transformation. Earlier, telecoms mainly partnered with other operators to share their networks, data, messaging and voice services through wholesales agreements, but these partnerships have evolved considerably over the years. In order for 5G to be a commercial success for telcos, more advanced partner models will need to be supported for all of the new use cases and devices that are envisioned for the network.

Today, a modern partner management solution for 5G success enables the convergence of partners across multiple sectors and caters to highly diverse needs. Unified partner systems cover key segments like distribution, IoT/M2M, content/OTT, roaming, wholesale billing, MVNO, and more. The result: automated processes, the ability to launch any partner model, and reduced operational costs.

Partnerships will pave the way forward

Telecom leaders are currently thought to be risking billions of dollars as they struggle to address a host of challenges. High-cost wireless and fixed connections, coverage outages, demand for improved customer service, and an ever-growing list of competitors are only some of the roadblocks in deriving ROI.

International consultancy BearingPoint recently commissioned a study in which 85 executives of Tier 1 and Tier 2 Communications Service Providers (CSPs) from Europe, Asia, and the US, as well as 440 executives from sectors such as IT, technology, automotive, transport, banking, and insurance, were interviewed. According to their findings, 60 percent of the CSPs believed working in collaboration helps drive cost-effective and innovative solutions, while 59 percent were of the opinion that partnerships help them remain competitive, and 51 percent believed they would improve customer experience in the telecom market.

However, the study found that telco transformations tend to focus on adopting new trends in technology for short-term financial success, “as opposed to working to address an increasingly widely held view that if CSPs don’t consider new digital business models, they will not survive in their current form.” Overall, it concluded, most CSPs still view digital transformation as a means of achieving short-term cost reduction, instead of attempting to gain long-term benefits such as the scope for new business partnerships.

It’s essential for operators to alter this approach to remain relevant and for their businesses to be profitable. They will need to move beyond delivering connectivity to become digital ecosystem enablers, co-creating new services with partners and subscribers. Partner management converges three key tenets of modern business success: improved customer experience, service innovation, and competitiveness.

Many of these advanced partnership models can be implemented on LTE networks, and as operators upgrade to 5G, they will be able to enhance existing use cases as well as introduce new ones. In addition to 5G, new technologies that create partnership opportunities include IoT, network function virtualization, software-defined networking, cloud-based platforms, and more.

The role of partnerships in 5G monetization

As 5G networks and devices materialize, partnership models will be established in multiple layers, from sharing infrastructure and exposing network capabilities as a service, to launching a wide range of devices and services onto the system.

5G has raised consumer demands considerably, with expectations like unlimited data usage, downloading movies in seconds, and unique services and devices like smart home appliances. This means there is a need for CSPs to monetize beyond data bundles and introduce indirect monetization mechanisms with the help of schemes like sponsored data.

New models could be created with 5G that don’t exist today and be the key to telco success. Imagine a telco could spin up a 5G network slice for a ride-share company like Uber, with a revenue-share agreement based on total distance the fleet drove, all reported and charged real-time via API. Or a telco sells SaaS home security devices and takes an upfront fixed fee and monthly fee from the manufacturer. There are endless possibilities and use cases for CSP marketers to dream up.

What CSPs must now do is look at investing in platforms that enable them to monetize innovative 5G business models. This includes IoT and network slicing-based services that speed up tech advancements for various next-gen applications such as VR apps, industrial IoT apps, smart cities, connected healthcare, smart home ecosystems, wearable technologies, infotainment systems, and more.

How it works: smart business models

An effective partner management software helps reduce the total cost of ownership with fast time-to-market for new offerings. Smart revenue-sharing models allow CSPs to create new revenue streams and handle today’s ever-evolving digital and communications needs with solutions for both marketing and back-office departments.

With these smart models, CSPs can:

  • Create personalized partner contracts
  • Speed up and automate the partner on-boarding process
  • Support telecom and non-telecom partnerships
  • Support multilevel hierarchy models
  • Offer advanced self-care for partners
  • Enable any business model or billing type

What the future holds

Customers want innovative services at faster speeds. CSPs are expected to meet these expectations at every touchpoint. And to retain customers, they must meet future challenges from competing technologies quickly and at an acceptable cost.

To achieve this, CSPs must focus on partner management solutions that will help them launch offerings involving high volumes of data and video, mobile workload volatility, a greater number of connections and demand for lower latency to develop transformative strategies. Also, new revenue streams can be created by monetizing lucrative OTT content, partner applications, and other partner relationships.

So, the goal is to achieve the right balance between traditional and digital to create the richest customer experience. A unified and effective partner management solution ensures greater collaboration between multi-disciplinary partnerships, which is vital to success and the key to ROI of 5G.

Want to learn more about innovative partnership models and how Alepo’s digital BSS can prepare you for 5G and IoT? Click here for our 5G-ready digital BSS flyer.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Alepo Shortlisted for Digital Transformation Award by Telecoms World Middle East

Alepo Shortlisted for Digital Transformation Award by Telecoms World Middle East

  • Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on September 24, as part of the two-day Telecoms World Middle East conference in Dubai
  • This is the second consecutive year Alepo has been shortlisted for a Telecoms World Middle East award
  • The nomination recognizes Alepo’s success in its own complete digital transformation, thus benefiting the telecommunications industry, particularly in the Middle East
  • The transformation has helped Alepo achieve faster project delivery, better development cadence, and the ability to do more remotely
  • Results of the transformation have been evidenced by key announcements including a comprehensive digital BSS, one of the industry’s first 5G core solutions, and a cloud-native version of Alepo’s Carrier WiFi

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, DUBAI – Digital enablement and revenue management software provider Alepo has been shortlisted for the 2019 Telecoms World Middle East Awards in the digital Transformation – Vendor category. The shortlisting recognizes Alepo’s success in the Digital transformation of its own products, processes, and tools – a transformation that has benefited the telecommunications industry, particularly in the Middle East region.

Winners will be announced on September 24 at an awards ceremony as part of the two-day Telecoms World Middle East conference to be held in Dubai.

“We’re thrilled Telecoms World Middle East recognizes our team’s efforts and dedication to digital transformation. It is a testament to our longstanding commitment for self-improvement and our mission to give operators of all sizes the ability to harness leading technologies,” said Derrick Gross, President, Alepo.

Alepo’s nomination is supported by key milestones from the last year including several new product releases, automation of its testing processes, and significant reduction of delivery efforts and timelines. Most significantly, Alepo has introduced a new comprehensive digital BSS platform, with capabilities like omnichannel customer experience, open APIs, rapid configurations, and modularization of the legacy codebase.

The BSS player has also introduced one of the industry’s first 5G core (5GC) solutions, providing authentication and subscriber management for 5G networks. The 5GC works alongside the digital BSS to monetize and deliver 5G services such as IoT and network slicing.

In addition, Alepo released a cloud-native version of its AAA solution and has since upgraded a tier-1 telco in the Middle East to its virtualized AAA – a unique deployment in that all professional services were performed remotely.

Vishal Mathur, Vice President – Solution Integration at Alepo, said, “Digital transformation is not only about technology, but also about culture, processes, and people. This is what we mean when we talk about a holistic approach and this is what we have implemented. Seeing the impact of our own transformation on our customers is truly gratifying.”

With over 1,000 attendees, 200 speakers, and 600 telcos, the annual Telecoms World Middle East Awards and conference bring together the technology, media, and telecom ecosystem to discuss and acknowledge technological developments in telecommunications. Alepo has been shortlisted from a list of eminent vendors operating in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and North Africa.

About Telecoms World Middle East

Entering its fifteenth consecutive year in Dubai, Telecoms World Middle East is the go-to event for CXOs from across the TMT industry who want to learn how technology, innovation, variation, and partnerships can transform and diversify the future of telecommunications.

The two-day conference hosts over 1,000 attendees, 200 speakers, 75 sponsors and exhibitors from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, Central, and South Asia.

For more information, please visit Telecoms World Middle East 2019

About Alepo

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter