RCAF for the New Residential Congestion Scenarios

By Alexey Vedin, Director of Network Monetisation Products, Nexign.


With the planet locking down in response to COVID-19, telco services are playing a critical role in keeping business and education going in this new reality. A home broadband connection is no longer simply a nice-to-have service, but a lifesaving technology, bridging the physical gap between people isolating at home and their workplaces and educational establishments. Residential internet services are bearing workloads for which they were not designed, and in some cases subscribers are finding that their mobile networks provide a viable alternative connection, allowing them to join video conferences directly through their smartphones or use tethering to share mobile internet with their computers and smart TVs.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) therefore need to ensure that their networks are ready for this new usage model and able to guarantee the expected service quality for voice and data connections in residential areas at all times of the day. The RAN congestion awareness function (RCAF) is a business support systems (BSS) component that keeps mobile networks elastic and optimises the UX for all subscribers. Let’s take a look at how it can help MNOs respond to the new challenges they face.

Dynamic content adjustment

One way in which national regulators have reacted to the increased network workload during this pandemic is to ask content streaming services to reduce video quality and generate less traffic. Content providers can achieve this in a granular way through integration with the CSP’s infrastructure via RCAF. Providers will be notified when a subscriber enters or exits congested conditions, enabling them to alter content delivery only for those who are affected without compromising the service for everyone else. Once the abnormal congestion period is over, this approach could offer a basis for further partnership models including sponsored traffic and billing integration.

Mission-critical services

While congestion relief for subscribers staying at home can improve their quality of life, providing a reliable connection to mission-critical services functioning outside can literally save lives. RCAF enables CSPs to set up top priority plans for emergency workers, so that they are guaranteed reliable service for their communications and smart equipment even in the most congested spots and at the busiest times.

Prioritised plans

Those who rely on their connection for critical business goals are prepared to pay to ensure a flawless service. RCAF offers the tools to provide faster connections speeds in congested locations for a premium rate. Given the bandwidth and elasticity of modern networks, peak-use periods are not common, but subscribers will have an option to avoid service degradation completely, giving the CSP a new opportunity for monetisation.

Speed limits for heavy users

In the era of unlimited data plans, heavy users are those who make the biggest contribution to peak load. One fair way to manage congestion is to limit speeds for heavy users, thereby guaranteeing a better UX for everyone else. This approach can be made transparent to all users by explaining it in the fair usage policy, and providing the same great speed to everyone in non-congested periods and areas.

Application control

Different applications require different connection speeds to deliver a great user experience. CSPs can prioritise internal resources, business-oriented services, text messengers, and partner content providers over traffic-heavy P2P, streaming, and software update scenarios. Priority applications will not degrade during congested periods, and smooth service will return for all use cases when congestion eases. Application control opens up new monetisation channels for CSPs via partnerships with third-party telecom vendors, working together to ensure optimum functioning of their services under the most complicated network conditions.

New goals for CSPs

Offering an alternative to current home broadband connections with fixed wireless access (FWA) is one of the emerging use cases for 5G technology. But even before they introduce full 5G support, CSPs can leverage their mobile networks to provide reliable service to those who are experiencing difficulties working and studying from home at this time. Implementing technologies like RCAF immediately will help to build customer loyalty and open up new monetisation models for the future.

The network congestion problem is now an urgent one for many CSPs. Get in touch with us today to access a timely solution that will enable you to tackle the new challenges of these unprecedented times.