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(From left to right) Rica Abarintos, Product Development Manager at Smart; Tracy Yip, Group IT Project Management Office Advisor for PLDT Group; and Beng Pama, Head of IT-Home Business Systems at PLDT. Credit: Adrian M. Reodique
Inspired by the common practice of sharing among Filipino families, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company and its subsidiary Smart Communications jointly rolled out a shared data plan in January this year.
The PLDT-Smart Shared Data Plan allows PLDT HOME DSL service subscribers to add a Smart mobile plan 399 to their subscriptions. By doing so, subscribers can share 6GB of their DSL account's 50GB monthly data allowance with multiple mobile phones belonging to their family members.
Since such a plan is the first of its kind in the Philippines, it was recognised as the best project in the Leadership category of the 2016 CIO Asia Awards.
According to Tracy Yip, Group IT Project Management Office Advisor for PLDT Group, the PLDT-Smart Shared Data Plan project was conceived as part of PLDT Group's overall convergence strategy. It aims to bring together devices, services, and ubiquitous connectivity to provide subscribers with seamless communications and entertainment, regardless of their location. It is also hoped that the flexibility and increased value of the plan (given the sharing of data feature) will reduce customer churn and attract new customers. Besides that, PLDT and Smart hope that the move will create opportunities to upsell and offer new products and services.
The solution comprised of three key components, namely the Online Charging System (OCS), Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), and Network Enforcement Points.
The OCS measures and manages usage for shared wallet data plans, including quotas for individual users and the overall data for quota for the plan. It will also trigger appropriate notification to be sent to the subscriber, through short message service (SMS), when data is replenished or the usage limit for an overall plan is reached.
The PCRF, on the other hand, defines and manages the policies and charging rules to be applied to each subscriber. The PCRF communicates with the network enforcement points-including the Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW) and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)-in the mobile packet core to apply relevant policy rules when a subscriber or group of subscribers reaches a usage limit of shared wallet plan.
The product was piloted last December and subsequently launched to the market in January. The pilot includes supporting functionalities such as new connect, availing of individual flexibundles, balance inquiry via text message and online portal, customer notifications on low balance and volume depletion, monthly replenishment of volume to all subscribers in the family, and billing to single account while the full launch delivered additional functionalities such as terminations, upgrade from regular individual plans to shared data plan, change mobile numbers, and relocation transactions.
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