The project is providing research and technology development (RTD) in the area of ATM charging and broadband service contracts. The key objective of this project is to explore the nature of such contracts, both in their long-term aspects (which concerns service level agreements) and in their short-term aspects (such as how aspects of the contract can be negotiated during connection establishment).
The outcome of the project shall be a set of recommendations on charging and contracts and associated issues. These will have validity because of the range of industrial sector viewpoints which contribute to them.
Charging principles should obviously be based on the network provider's need to recover his costs, and to make a profit.
However, marketing considerations will also influence the way in which charging is performed. The basis on which charging is made forms part of the contract between the service (or network) provider and the customer. This contract will also address issues such as bandwidth and quality of service, which are cost related. Hence an understanding of the contract is fundamental in establishing how to charge for ATM services. The outcome of the project shall be a set of recommendations concerning charging which should find widespread acceptance because of the ranges of viewpoints which will contribute to them. The viability of the charging methods will have been demonstrated in the field trials, and the validity of dynamic charging, either in support of a spot market for bandwidth, to facilitate a customer in finding a suitable price/performance compromise, or as a component of a congestion control strategy, shall have been evaluated.
Main contributions to the programme objectives:
ATM Charging Recommendations.
Contribution to the programme
A sound basis for commercialisation of next generation IP/ATM services.
The performance of various charging schemes shall be assessed by simulation. Source models will be developed for typical traffic sources, so that the performance predictions will be based on realistic data. The QoS requirements for various traffic types shall be determined, so that the response can be assessed of users to changes in the balance between QoS and price.
This leads logically to an investigation of the relationship between charging and flow control. Increases in the pricing of ATM services will obviously cause offered traffic to decrease, which could be used as part of a congestion control strategy. An architecture will be developed, using the facilities of a TMN, to support the accounting operations required to transform the raw data from the charging mechanisms into a form suitable for billing the customer in the context of a Customer Care environment. This architecture shall be implemented, using a switch which supports the charging schemes selected.
Summary of Trial
A User Forum has been set up to provide a market-driven perspective. These users represent the buying power of major corporations. Three trials are in progress. The SETANTA trial is based on a PTAT trial and has provided data for off-line billing experiments. The OISIN trial is a traffic related trial and the FIONN trial is a value added service based trial.
The issues to be addressed in recommending methods of charging for ATM services are threefold
On what basis are charges to be made?
How will the charges be conveyed to the customer?
How will users react to the charging scheme?
This project seeks to answer all three questions. In addition, it is proposed to facilitate the customer in exploiting the flexibility of ATM by investigating the use of dynamic tariffs negotiated during connection set-up. The customer must have a means of controlling the user's response to changing tariff levels (since the customer and the user will typically not be the same entity); a protocol for dynamic contract negotiation would need links to ensure that the user must be sensitive to changes in prices.