By Douwe van Der Heij, Product Manager, Mobile Data & Advanced Network Solutions
The introduction of 4G/LTE technology is an important stage towards the ongoing development of a near ubiquitous mobile broadband market. However, it is not the sole determinant of the success of a mobile data strategy, with combinations of 3G and so-called 3G+ technologies (HSPA etc) continuing to play an important part in the evolution towards an all IP communications future.
MACH’s own research indicates that users in their home networks consume 300 times the data that they do when they are abroad, and that alarge group of users are not using data services abroad at all. A disparity that needs to be redressed.
Informa research published in 2011 provides insights into expected Mobile Network Operator priorities during 2012, chief of which will be finding ways to enhance the end customer experience. In fact together with NGN/LTE network deployment itself, this is the major focus for MNOs in every region. To realize this potential, MNOs need to be able to understand their subscriber requirements and usage patterns and respond with innovative and simplified service plans, where service and application based ‘data packages’, user defined spend limits, automatic session cut-off/divert and advanced self-care facilities can be integrated into a common service offering.
It makes no sense to continue to use traditional wholesale or retail pricing policies for LTE based services. A new approach to service delivery will help to unify the subscribers’ data roaming experience by combining controls over data usage with financial balances, through integrated charging and policy management. MNOs should be able to accelerate the introduction of new services and deploy these services in a fraction of the time compared with traditional BSS based approaches to service rollout.
In a highly competitive market, where margins are being constantly squeezed and customers are demanding greater flexibility and choice, data roaming stands out as a distinctly under-utilized revenue enhancing opportunity. The tools are now available to create and advertise flexible tariffs that encourage users to take advantage of the full functionality of their mobile devices when travelling. As markets mature and 4G/LTE network rollouts accelerate, managing these revenue growth options will become even more valuable, so there has never been a better time for mobile network operators to take a long, hard look at their mobile data strategy and start to really get the most out of data roaming.
 Informa Industry Outlook – 2012