Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) is central to modern LTE network management. The PCRF handles policy requests from the network (BSS/OSS) and is defined as part of the Policy and Charging Control (PCC). With PCRF, operators can offer their customers highly contextualized and personalized data plans while maximizing their own revenue potential.
A PCRF consists of Diameter-based 3GPP Gx, Rx, Sp, Sd, Gxx; it includes policy management, Policy and Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF), and Subscriber Profile Repository (SPR). It provides the ability to create new policies (both testing and roll-out) and to create compelling and differentiated offers to customers. A PCRF can be part of a complete LTE deployment or it can help modernize legacy BSS.
Finally, PCRF is crucial for voice over LTE (VoLTE). The PCRF manages network resources to establish calls and manage bandwidth allocation. This enables Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to offer voice over IP services transparently while prioritizing emergency calls and ensuring QoS.
Voice and SMS usage have dwindled over the years, and along with it the potential revenue. However, data usage continues to increase steadily, as more and more users begin to rely on data calling and IP messaging services, as well as using their mobiles for email and a host of apps. In creating revenue streams for data access, operators have a chance at compensating for the loss of revenue they have experienced. This is where PCRF comes in.
MNOs can gain a competitive advantage through innovation, make data-driven decisions, and deliver high-quality and robust services. Another advantage of PCRF is the ability to create personalized and contextual plans and promotions. For example, boosting bandwidth on demand, location-based services, prepaid data roaming, family passes. However, enabling such capabilities requires not just a PCRF but an ability for customers to self-care, typically through a mobile app. PCRF helps improve revenue and fight against lowering margins and increase customer retention.