By Ben Bannister, Product Marketing Director
For mobile communication service providers (CSPs), revenue from voice service continues to decline as a percentage of overall revenue, while global mobile data use continues its inexorable rise. Indeed, industry analyst firm Informa Telecoms & Media has predicted that revenues from mobile data will have grown from $210bn in 2009 to more than $450bn by 2015. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that while data services represent a tremendous opportunity for communications services providers (CSPs), they come with their own set of challenges. How can CSPs best monetise the new service mix? How can the sort of margins available from voice services be realised for data? How can the CSP business model evolve towards the sort of media retail models proposed by so many industry commentators?
At home, CSPs need to find new ways of monetising mobile data. There is evidence that in home markets the all-you-can-eat model of data consumption is unsustainable and operators will move to tiered pricing. CSPs will also turn to offload technologies such as Wi-Fi to prevent overload of their valuable mobile spectrum. As users roam abroad, the challenge is different with fear of bill-shock preventing users from switching on data roaming. The solution to both domestic and international problems can be achieved in a similar manner. By the introduction of real time policy and charging, domestic subscribers can be segmented and charged related to usage or service type, and in roaming, subscribers can be handed back control so that they are reassured of their spend and able to select the services that they want. MACH’s studies show that an additional US$900 million global market could be opened up in mobile data roaming by just removing the fear of bill-shock.
While most discussion around mobile data is subscriber centric, another market opportunity that requires equally specific charging and policy control solutions is the wireless M2M sector, a growing opportunity for CSPs to offer both domestic and international M2M services.
So what has all this got to do with Cloud services? The simple answer is that an environment which previously required expensive, licensed software with dedicated hardware can now be delivered using a Cloud-based service delivery approach. This move to a Cloud-based service delivery environment, with online charging, bill shock protection, subscriber policy management and data offload controls, will deliver cost advantage, flexibility and adaptability. The technical infrastructure exists to realise this new service delivery horizon. It is just a matter of time before the old, expensive ways of doing things are changed forever and the rise of data services just might be the catalyst that the industry requires to make this change.