Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BBTM Part 3: Openet & Cricket

Michael Manzo's presentation focused around the top techniques and trends to watch for in mobile broadband.
#1: Smarter data service tiers
Add QoS payment scheme to speed and volume, allow users to pay for better access and quality or conversely, zero rate traffic at certain times of day when the network is less congested. It is a good idea, but the practical implementation seems complicated. Self care interface for data usage changes, which will trigger PCRF and Charging gateway, which will trigger in turn DPI and PCEF...

#2 service passes
prepay vouchers for data usage. 15$ for 250MB...
 This is in effect in many operators and has proven effective in term of data ARPU growth.

#3 OTT Content partnership
This is the one, I think that has the most mileage. As posted previously, in my opinion, it is inevitable that carriers will have to partner with Hulu, Youtube, iCloud, Netflix, Bittorrent... I cannot imagine  these OTT vendors seating idle while carriers try to monetize this traffic on their networks and to modify the intended user experience in the process. Again, before revenue share is to happen, QOE sharing is necessary.
Carriers and OTT properties need to compromise on what content and services should get what type of QoS in which circumstances to apportion a fair revenue share.

#4 TV everywhere
Premium content monetization for tablets. VOD everywhere sounds a sexy business model, when mobile broadband allows to share content across TV, Set top boxes, Blu ray players, video game consoles, tablets, laptops and smartphones. As previously discussed, it is a business model that has some way to go to be palatable for mass market.

#5 Fixed Mobile Convergence Parental control

Voice, text and browsing parental control. While I understand the value proposition and in some cases the regulatory constraints, this is the trend I am the most skeptical about. In my experience, trying to enforce parental control on content usage, is a bit like content-based charging. An interesting concept that is too complex to implement with today's technology. I don't think it is technically or logistically viable to maintain white / blacklist of URLs or domains to regulate your child's access to the internet.  The web properties change too fast and your average teenager knows enough about anonimizing and redirecting browsers and apps to circumvent any network based attempt toregulate that usage.

#6 Smarter could service
Expand policy, charging, optimization to the cloud. This will be the subject of a future post.

Cricket Leap
Leap is an interesting carrier, with a very innovative, disruptive positioning that allowed them to garner a very different customer base from the rest of US carriers:
Leap's customer base is in majority young (55% less than 35 year old), cost conscious (medium yearly income is less than $50k), from ethnic descent (60%), and use Cricket phone as their primary phone (95%!).

The key to attracting this demographics has historically been to offer prepaid contracts, with unlimited usage. The result is quite interesting with 5.8m subscribers, generating 2.8B$ revenue.

Their tiered offering using speeds and throttling for mobile broadband has been a staggering success. Today, mobile broadband revenue covers the entire CAPEX and OPEX of the network. Which means voice and text revenues are pure margin...

Going forward, Leap will differentiate further, using QoS and QoE levers to create an even more segmented pricing strategy to mobile broadband users.

On the question of traffic optimization, it is interesting to note that Leap commented "Anytime we implemented optimization techniques in our network, we did not see any negative impact on customer traffic".

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