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Archive for February, 2012

#MWC12 Tiered Data Plans to Drive ARPU – But End to End Control is Essential

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

The future of “all you can eat” data plans has been discussed for some time. According to some analysts, many MNOs are considering ending such generous packages. Some have already launched new, tiered data plans and others will surely follow.

Recent analysis suggests that a critical element of such data plans will be the delivery of new premium services that command and justify a higher price. By breaking the relationship between fees and network connectivity, MNOs can move towards charging for delivering high quality and higher value services.

But to do so – and to ensure the quality of service that users will expect – requires a true end-to-end approach to managing service delivery. MNOs will have to ensure that premium services obtain the priority that they need. Real-time, end-to-end monitoring and control of user demand and consumption is essential.

The issue is not without controversy. Users have become concerned about privacy issues and there are worries that monitoring will prove to be invasive. That’s not necessarily the case. What are needed are solutions that are able to identify traffic for the purposes of optimisation, but which do not gather personal or identifiable information.

All of that is possible with the deployment of specialist client-side solutions, which do not collect or store any private information. Without taking into account activity on client devices, MNOs will be unable to guarantee end-to-end application performance. By deploying such solutions, MNOs can profitably manage and optimise data services according to the needs of individual customers.

As some move to tiered and premium data plans, MNOs will be able to ensure they both deliver the service levels expected and provide the reassurance customers seek regarding privacy. MNOs are in a unique position to be a trusted service partner, avoiding any of the adverse publicity that has surrounded some OTT players.

#MWC Quality of Service is Now a Key Differentiator for MNOs

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

According to recent news, Quality of Service (QoS) is now a key differentiator for MNOs. While coverage has long been viewed as critical to subscriber satisfaction, analyst and consulting firm Ovum found that, increasingly, operators and vendors see QoS as a differentiator.

This isn’t surprising. Rapid growth in data consumption has placed strains on the network, but today’s subscribers expect more than simply connectivity. The performance of applications they consume is becoming more and more important. This may become a factor in churn to rival networks, if packages and offers based around performance or QoS levels can be created to tempt frustrated users.

MNOs need to consider how to use QoS in conjunction with innovative pricing to ensure that they increase their differentiation. Because they own the network, MNOs are in a good position to achieve this, but it will take more than simply bandwidth or taking action in the core. MNOs need to deploy solutions that can optimise the user experience directly from their devices. End-to-end QoS begins with the user device, not the base station.

Any focus on QoS as a differentiator needs to be backed by the tools to make it possible. Without such capabilities, any plan to offer enhanced QoS guarantees to customers will be flawed – which will have completely the opposite of the intended effect, driving customers to MNOs which do manage to fully deliver end-to-end QoS guarantees.

Video Gaming Growth: The Online Challenge

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

The gaming market continues to enjoy strong growth with surging demand expected until at least 2015, according to recent research. Online gaming is forecast to make a significant – and growing – contribution to the total. In fact, it’s predicted that online gaming will surpass the sales of physical units by 2013.

While that’s excellent news for the gaming industry – online models have significant cost benefits in terms of distribution and can generate recurring subscription revenues – it also presents challenges. Online gamers need to have sufficient bandwidth to enjoy an optimal experience – and this applies in both the downstream and upstream direction. They need guarantees of service to ensure that they really can obtain an experience equivalent to a localised version.

Some operators have already addressed this by developing enhanced broadband service packages that specifically address the gaming market and provide guarantees of delay, ping time, round trip and so on. The theory is that users will pay a marginal premium to enjoy an optimised quality of service. While that’s yet to be proven, the challenge is likely to continue to grow, as the devices through which players access games proliferate. A gamer might use a PC for a shared WiFi connection to a fixed DSL link for some of the time, move to a tablet or pad and then continue to play via a mobile device. They will come to expect the same service across all of these, but the network performance may vary considerably. They will also be competing with family members or users within the same cell for the available bandwidth.

That’s why operators need to think about how to account for the specific devices that users will access. They need to consider how to deliver an optimised experience across all devices. It’s one thing to offer such services and capabilities if you own the network, but how can such services be optimised if the user is accessing the same service across a different network?

This raises interesting questions about the ability of operators to offer enhanced services on a wholesale basis – and the importance of working hand-in-hand with the gaming industry to ensure that such optimised services can be made available. To achieve this will require some thought about how to deliver services across different networks but also how to deploy localised software on devices that enable applications to perform as required. The gaming industry is set to boom, but it’s clear that there are challenges ahead to provide the service that will ensure expectations are met.