It goes almost without saying these days that mobile operators around the world recognize that data is their future and already is king. It is after all driving the accelerated investment in IP-based mobile broadband solutions, particularly LTE (News - Alert). What is not so clear is how to best monetize the business opportunities surrounding demand for and usage of mobile broadband. A key reason for the confusion is that, as mobile broadband usage patterns change, new monetization strategies are needed—sometimes strategies that have not yet been created or tested.
In the past, point out Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) marketing professionals Nicholas Cadwgan and Caroline Diquélou in an Enriching Communications article, “Key Strategies to Grow Mobile Broadband Revenue,” mobile broadband revenues were driven by person-to-person interactions. However, that is changing, and revenue strategies need to change, too.
The authors righlty point out that operators are looking to take advantage of the explosion of content especially video, cloud, machine-to-machine (M2M) and advanced communications services among other opportunities to grow revenue. “In a data-driven world, real-time network policy and charging control is fast becoming the revenue engine for the mobile network,” state Cadwgan and Diquélou. They add, “Operators need to adopt strategies that can help expand their revenue and market footprint.” All of this can be done by leveraging the capabilities of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert) (IMS) standards that enable operators to engage in a new conversation experience with their customers about new services and billing options.
However, as two seasoned marketing professionals emphasize this requires paying attention to three key objectives as operators adopt new mobile broadband business models that are focused around applications fluent networks that are enabling new application and content value chains.
Create a personal dialog with customers
This involves using real-time network analytics to enable incentives that: vary with network conditions, enable offering of context-driven promotions, and allow users choices in what they are buying and how they pay. Giving customers more control over their mobile experience, even the billing aspect of it, builds loyalty.
“The one-to-one dialog created between the operator and the customer contributes to developing trust, confidence and loyalty in the carrier brand…Customers also gain a level of purchasing control that is familiar and similar to their day-to-day shopping experience,” Cadwgan and Diquélou stressed.
Offer data plans that match mobile lifestyles
This may seem obvious, but recognition of trends and the speed of being responsive are critical. Customers absolutely want the ability to purchase mobile broadband service packages that reflect the dynamic nature of their lives. This includes the ability to spontaneously adapt their service experience. Smart operators will pay attention to this demand and find ways to accommodate it, thereby differentiating themselves in a one-size-fits-all world.
Cadwgan and Diquélou noted that, “Real-time network policy and charging control can enable flexible demographic-oriented data plans that fit with the way people live their lives.” They further state that, ”Operators can provide more personalized and dynamic offerings that combine the proactive and context-aware interactions described above with adaptable service bundling.”
Speaking of adapting to changing needs, operators also need to build flexibility around quality of service (QoS) and pricing into their business plans. Using appropriate network policy control techniques, operators can adapt networks in real time to fulfill customer expectations.
In what is a very important observation that can be sometimes overlooked, the authors highlight the fact that, “Almost every instantaneous decision made in the network has an associated real-time network policy and charging control action…The flexibility of real-time network policy and charging control, allows operator to develop innovative, sponsored offers where users enjoy a ‘free’ or ‘zero rating’ offer and the partner or content owner pays the carrier for the network usage.”
All of this boils down to a relatively simple conclusion: operators need new business models for mobile broadband if they are to be successful. Flexibility is the keyword; approaches will vary depending on local market conditions. In fact, Cadwgan and Diquélou stress that this is an instance where no one solution fits all. Every operator needs the flexibility to be able to adapt to their unique operating environment and be responsive to changes and opportunities in their markets. Anecdotally they point out that, “One operator may start by focusing on service tiering and network optimization. Another may focus on the concept of the network as an enabler to engage with partners or take advantage of M2M opportunities.”
Regardless of market conditions, though the authors recommend every real-time network policy and charging control framework should be:
- Real-time based
- Gigh performing
“As data usage increases, the impetus for operators to evolve toward a stronger real-time network policy and charging control architecture also increases,” the two Alcatel-Lucent marketing professionals concluded. “Those that recognize the converging relationship between network policy control and real-time charging as key to evolving their mobile business strategies will be in a better position to drive new revenues from mobile broadband.”
The lesson is clear, network evolution and the business value delivered cannot operate in isolation if the opportunities presented by mobile broadband are to be maximized. New strategies need to be adopted and executed.
Edited by Peter Bernstein