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NetOp Policy Manager: Enabling New Valueadded Services over Broadband Networks

After overcoming many technical and operational issues, broadband service providers must now address the key business challenges of accelerating profitability and growing new markets. Redback's NetOp Policy Manager enables service providers to supplement basic broadband connectivity with value-added IP services that generate new revenue, improve customer retention and increase ROI.

User Intelligent Networks

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Introduction Since 1997, the build-out of DSL has overcome a number of critical network and operational issues. These issues included: A lack of established standards Little or no interoperability amongst vendors No self-provisioning Back-office integration and billing issues Extending the reach of DSL to more subscribers Each of these issues has been systematically addressed over the past five years through the work of standards bodies, investment into provisioning software and integration projects. Still, two key challenges remain: Accelerate profitability of sunk DSL investments Stem the slowing growth rate of DSL subscriptions Before DSL service providers can justify the next round of capital expenditure necessary to build their next-generation broadband architecture, they must overcome these challenges. Analysts agree that inserting some basic IP services over simple connectivity will be the catalyst for the next wave of steep growth in DSL uptake. To leverage existing investments in DSLAM deployments and drive free cash flow to the bottom line, service providers must offer entry-level connectivity prices comparable to dialup, while layering on a compelling menu of services. To enable service providers to address these issues and support a variety of services, Redback Networks has introduced the NetOp Policy Manager (NetOp PM). NetOp PM allows providers to supplement their existing broadband networks with a comprehensive policy management solution. NetOp PM possesses the flexibility to allow service providers to quickly deploy low risk revenue generating services such as self provisioned tiered bandwidth, and then offer more complex services such as video multicast when the provider gains experience and confidence in supporting value added services. The importance of service bundling Despite the much-hyped growth of DSL worldwide, existing DSLAM network assets remain grossly underutilized (see Figure 1).

Subscriber growth, which routinely grew 15% to 25% quarter over quarter (qoq), has slowed to a less than 10% qoq growth rate. The DSL industry has become sluggish as the pool of innovators and early adopters of DSL subscribers dwindles. Vanilla DSL connectivity has clearly entered "The Chasm," coined by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm, and providers must find ways to entice the next wave of early majority and late adopters -- the next 25-30 million potential DSL subscribers who are waiting for a compelling reason to sign up. Although DSL has attracted roughly 17 million users in North America, there are still about 55 million dialup subscribers, all of which are potential DSL users. Lessons learned from the evolution of other mature industries can be applied to the telecommunications industry and the deployment of such technologies as DSL. The fast food industry provides a strong analogy. Since its inception in the 1960's, the industry evolved slowly, as did telecommunications, but also quite dramatically. Market leader McDonald's began by offering a simple menu consisting of stand-alone items: two or three types of burgers, fries, various soft drinks and shakes. However, as competition increased and revenue became sluggish, McDonald's looked for other potential revenue streams and customer incentives that could be offered without increasing capital expenses. Soon bundled items like Happy Mealscombining multiple menu items-appeared on an expanded menu, as did breakfast items. The company began offering dollar menus and senior discounts as well. The new bundled items simplified the ordering process and encouraged spending, while enticing customers with worthwhile deals. Lastly, as its customers took on a fast-paced lifestyle, McDonald's upgraded new and existing franchises to include drive-through service, another effective incentive. Similar to McDonald's cautious beginnings, players in the DSL market began by offering only flat-rate connectivity pricing, relying on the benefits "always-on" and "fast" to attract new users. But the pool of potential subscribers willing to pay high flat rates for those two benefits has been saturated, and new incentives must be developed and implemented to catch a new wave of users. Bundled services such as tiered bandwidth, usage or time based pricing; WiFi, VPN, security services (URL parental controls, antivirus, firewall) and personal back-up can be deployed with the existing DSL network and operational infrastructure. Security services typically require a small incremental investment, but no architectural changes. Such additional bundled services will fuel free cash flow to the bottom line to help accelerate the build-out of the next-generation DSL architecture (see Figure 2). Just as McDonald's responded to customers' lifestyle changes by making ordering faster and easier, DSL providers can later add the ability to upgrade the current DSL architecture for tiered bandwidth, differentiated traffic, and new advanced services such as IP TV.

Figure 1: The growth of DSL users has slowed dramatically as the number of early adopters taper off. IP services will encourage increased growth among potential subscribers. 2

NetOp Policy Manager: Enabling New Value-added Services over Broadband Networks

The broadband subscriber can use a service Web portal to login, sign up for a service, or change an existing service. The service portal delivers a service order to NetOp PM, which authenticates the subscriber and then implements the order by provisioning the appropriate policies on the SMS or SmartEdge device. The service portal is not specifically required for authentication, as NetOp PM can rely on an attribute such as the subscriber's PPP username or MAC address for DHCP authentication. The NetOp PM architecture primarily uses the RADIUS protocol for subscriber authentication and service delivery. The SMS or SmartEdge relies on RADIUS to authenticate subscribers and download policies using RADIUS attributes in a subscriber's profile such as amount of bandwidth and packet classification. NetOp PM acts as the RADIUS server, retrieving from and updating all subscriber information in a SQL database. NetOp PM also communicates with a backend OSS/BSS via RADIUS messages or an API that allows backend systems to interface directly with NetOp PM. If a wholesale/retail architecture is in place with other RADIUS servers, NetOp PM will act as a RADIUS proxy, forwarding all messages to these servers. In a non-wholesale environment, NetOp PM can also proxy RADIUS messages to other RADIUS servers. NetOp Policy Manager services Web Login One of the basic services supported by NetOp PM is Web Login, where a subscriber uses a Web service portal to login to the system (See Figure 4). When the subscriber first starts the broadband session, all traffic is directed toward this service portal. The subscriber enters authentication information into the portal, such as username and password. The service portal transfers this information to NetOp PM, which then uses the subscriber database to verify subscriber authentication. After authentication, NetOp downloads policy information for this subscriber from the database and then uses it to configure the appropriate services on the SMS or SmartEdge network device. The subscriber now has full access.

Figure 2: Adding IP services will increase free cash flow (FCF).

The role of NetOp Policy Manager NetOp Policy Manager enables service providers to supplement their already deployed DSL networks with a comprehensive policy management solution. NetOp PM possesses the flexibility to allow service providers to quickly deploy low risk revenue generating services such as self provisioned tiered bandwidth, and then offer more complex services such as video multicast when the provider gains experience and confidence in supporting value added services. In line with Redback's User Intelligent NetworkTM (UIN) vision, NetOp PM works with Redback's SMSTM and SmartEdge platforms, leveraging the strengths of both platforms to offer value added services in a cost-effective manner. NetOp PM allows service delivery to millions of subscribers over multiple broadband access technologies, including DSL but also encompassing Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi), cable, and Ethernet. The NetOp PM architecture is primarily composed of the following components (see Figure 3): NetOp Policy Manager software with accompanying subscriber database Redback SMS and/or SmartEdge Service Web portal

Figure 3: NetOp Policy Manager technical architecture

Figure 4: Web Login 3

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Tiered Bandwidth With the Tiered Bandwidth service, the subscriber uses the service portal to change the bandwidth level instead of merely logging in. After the change has been made on the service portal, the portal updates NetOp PM, which writes the change to the database and then performs a Policy Refresh on the SMS or SmartEdge. This has the effect of applying the new policies and enabling the service for the subscriber. Appropriate billing information for the service change is also generated. Access based on Volume, Duration, or Time of Day With this service, subscriber access can be based on a number of factors: Volume (bytes downloaded), Duration (hours or minutes of total online access), or Time of Day (access only granted at specific times). All accounting data are stored in the NetOp PM database, so the system is aware of how long the subscriber has been online and how many bytes have been downloaded. Once a threshold such as bytes downloaded has been exceeded, NetOp PM configures the SMS or SmartEdge to perform a specified action such as disconnecting the subscriber or rate limiting access. NetOp PM can also force the subscriber to be redirected to the service portal in order to purchase more online time or the ability to download more bytes. These services enable new billing models, helping to diversify the subscriber base and increase service penetration. For example, providers can charge lower prices for services that are only offered at certain times of the day or only allow a specific amount of content to be downloaded. Dialup customers may therefore be encouraged to migrate to broadband because of the low price points. Wi-Fi Access Wi-Fi Access works very similarly to the Web Login service (See Figure 5). The Wi-Fi access points are connected to the DSL connection via Ethernet. As with Web Login, the Wi-Fi subscriber uses the service portal to login, and then the NetOp PM Server configures policy information for the subscriber on the SmartEdge or SMS. Wi-Fi Access supports flexible billing, so a subscriber can be charged per minute, for example, or an existing DSL subscriber can also use the same account for Wi-Fi Access. Additionally, 802.1x with Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) are supported for greater wireless security.
Figure 6: Wi-Fi Access

Dynamic Quality of Service NetOp PM must ensure sufficient Quality of Service for video or voice traffic where video or voice packets are prioritized over others. Otherwise crucial packets can be dropped or delayed, resulting in a suboptimal session. As a new session is established, the video or voice middleware notifies NetOp PM of this event. NetOp PM then dynamically configures the SMS or SmartEdge platform to prioritize the video or voice packets and send out the appropriate billing messages. After the session is complete, the packets are no longer prioritized. Video Streaming For Video Streaming services, NetOp PM supports both IP TV and Video on Demand. The broadband subscriber uses the Web service portal (see Figure 7) to determine which groups of channels to have access to. The video content itself is sent to the subscriber's PC or set-top box via multicast streaming. Because a sophisticated video infrastructure is used to send the content to the subscriber, there must be coordination between the video "middleware" and NetOp PM. When the video infrastructure sends content to the subscriber, it informs NetOp PM so can dynamically configure the SMS or SmartEdge device to prioritize video traffic and also coordinate billing.

Figure 5: Access based on Volume, Time of Day, or Duration 4

Figure 7: Dynamic Quality of Service

NetOp Policy Manager: Enabling New Value-added Services over Broadband Networks

GUI tool for policy creation and management NetOp PM provides a GUI to create and manage services consisting of multiple policies. This easy-to-use tool facilitates training for operations personnel, as rampup time is shortened. Multiple methods of subscriber access NetOp PM supports subscriber access in both PPP client or clientless (DHCP) modes. Different end devices such as PC, set-top box, and Wi-Fi phone are supported as well as multiple network transport methods such as DSL, cable, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, etc. Customizable for different platforms The source code for NetOp PM can be modified by integrators or carriers to a) add new features thereby allowing them to enable new services without having to wait for a new release; and b) enable NetOp PM to work with other hardware devices or network architectures. Deploying services with NetOp Policy Manager Once the NetOp Policy Manager software and service portal are implemented in the network, providers can begin to offer any number of IP services. For example, a customer might choose to sign up for bandwidth services at 256k or 348k, paying a flat monthly fee of just $29.95 or $34.95 per month respectively. Alternatively, a carrier may introduce a time-based service to convert dial-up subscribers to DSL. Conversely, many dial-up subscribers use their Internet connection for only five hours a month. Now a carrier could introduce a $19.95 plan for 8 or fewer hours per month and upsell subscribers once they see the benefits of a faster always-on connection (see Table 1). Based upon a positive business case, the service provider can easily add on network-based security services such as URL filtering, anti-virus or firewall and charge an incremental fee of $3.00 per month, respectively. Services offered to small and medium businesses such as VPNs and online storage of key data can also fuel free cash flow. By providing low-cost connectivity and the ability to inexpensively add on numerous compelling services as needed, providers can more easily attract new customers and provide incentive to spend more money down the line. Redback's sophisticated Redback IP Services Business Case, endorsed by The Yankee Group, can assist providers to compute free cash flow based on a number of parameters for each of the services listed in Tables 1 and 2. For more information on the Redback IP Services Business Case, please visit

Figure 8: Video streaming

Features and benefits of NetOp Policy Manager RADIUS as integrated mechanism for AAA and service delivery NetOp PM uses the RADIUS protocol for authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) and service delivery (see Figure 9). RADIUS is widely deployed by service providers, being operationally proven with a large install base. RADIUS servers can be deployed in a load balancing configuration, offering scalability and redundancy. Because RADIUS is used for both AAA and service delivery, no new protocols need to be introduced in the network, reducing complexity and expense.

Figure 9: RADIUS protocol used for subscriber AAA and service delivery

Furthermore, subscriber attributes are mapped into RADIUS as Vendor Specific Attributes (VSAs). New subscriber attributes are easily added by creating new VSAs and new database fields in the subscriber database. Open and flexible XML API with service portal flexibility NetOp PM's support of an open XML API enables seamless integration with third party custom portals or a backend OSS/BSS. Service providers have flexibility in choosing a service portal that meets their needs. They can begin a service rollout with the bundled NetOp PM lightweight portal and then later migrate to a custom or off the shelf portal with more advanced features.

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Table 1. Example of a Stand-Alone IP Services Menu Bandwidth Services 256Kbps 384Kbps 1Mbps Time based (up to 8 hours) Unlimited usage Wi-Fi access at hot-spots Security & Back up Services Back up Storage Additional Storage Web Hosting Firewall Parental Control/URL Filtering Virus Scanning Intrusion Detection Content & Gaming Services Video Conferencing/Video Telephony Point to Point Point to Multi-point Basic Broadcast TV Premium Broadcast TV Near Video on Demand MPEG Music Interactive Gaming Interactive Gaming $15.00 $0.10 $0.25 $39.95 $49.95 $3.95 $9.95 $3.00 $9.95 unlimited games per game per minute per minute 1 set top box 1 set top box per movie Free $2.00 $8.95 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 100MB per additional 100MB includes domain name Example Price per Month $24.95 $34.95 $44.95 $19.95 $59.95 $9.95 Description Up to 150MB Up to 150MB Up to 150MB Up to 150MB

NetOp Policy Manager: Enabling New Value-added Services over Broadband Networks

Table 2. Example of a Bundled IP Services Menu Bandwidth Services 256Kbps + Wi-Fi 384Kbps + Wi-Fi 1Mbps + Wi-Fi Usage (bytes) + Wi-Fi Unlimited usage + Wi-Fi Security & Back up Services Back up Storage + Parental Control Additional Storage Web Hosting Firewall + Anti-Virus Firewall + Anti-Virus + Parental control Intrusion Detection + Firewall All Security & Back up Services Content & Gaming Services Video Conferencing/Video Telephony (VC/VT) Point to Point Point to Multi-point Basic Broadcast TV + NVOD Premium Broadcast TV + NVOD Basic Broadcast TV + VC/VT Premium Broadcast TV + VC/VT MPEG Music Interactive Gaming Bundled with TV $4.00 $2.00 $8.95 $5.00 $7.50 $7.00 $12.95 250MB per additional 100MB includes domain name Example Price per Month $36.95 $46.95 $56.95 $25.95 $59.95 Description Up to 150MB Up to 150MB Up to 150MB 256k; Up to 50MB

$0.10 $0.25 $45.95 $55.95 $49.95 $59.95 $9.95 $3.00

per minute per minute 1 set top box; 5 movies 1 set top box; 5 movies per minute charges apply per minute charges apply No bundle due to wholesale No bundle due to wholesale

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Summary NetOp Policy Manager enables service providers to adopt an evolutionary path to build a solid but flexible IP services architecture. Providers can leverage existing investments in network equipment, easily add on RADIUS-based NetOp PM policy management software and service portals, and begin to offer the compelling services needed to capture new DSL users. As service providers continue to grow their subscriber bases and increase their average revenue per user (ARPU), the new services-based infrastructure will make it possible to evolve to the next-generation DSL architecture and roll out more advanced services, such as video and gaming. It is this seamless progression toward a fully optimized service delivery strategy that will define the playing field for service providers moving forward.

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Product Specifications are subject to change without notice. REDBACK and SmartEdge are trademarks registered at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and in other countries. User Intelligent Networks, SMS and NetOp are trademarks or service marks of Redback Networks Inc. All other products or services mentioned are the trademark, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks of their respective owners. 2003 Redback Networks Inc. All Rights Reserved.