By Lokdeep Singh, Chief Technology Officer
LTE is all about developing a profitable revenue stream from mobile data services. It requires a new focus around customer experience management. Previous generations of network innovation tended to be supported by marketing strategies which simply promoted the technology aspect. With LTE, promotion of tariff innovation, user experience enhancement, convenience and ease of use are key elements in the operator marketing mix.
Between 2010 and 2015, analyst firm Gartner[i] expects mobile broadband connections to grow at CAGR of 36%. This growth will result from increasing demand for wireless connectivity from Laptop users, as well as Smartphone and Tablet device shipments.
LTE will co-exist with other access technologies for several years to come. This means that ways to manage technology inter-operability as well as inter-standard roaming become increasingly important, to ensure both optimal network utilization as well as a seamless customer user experience. Mobile network operators will need to be able to deliver a seamless user experience across multiple network types (GSM, CDMA, Wi-Fi) and different technology generations (2.5G, 3G, 4G). A seamless user experience provides consistency, but as it is enhancement of the user experience that is the true goal, then the expectation is to be able to blend additional elements, including price transparency, customer convenience and ease of use, all of which are critical customer experience requirements, to help unlock LTE data service revenue.
In a multi-technology environment, transparent pricing needs to be complemented by convenience and ease of use, to ensure that subscribers do not have to re-activate services during a user session. This calls for seamless handover between on-net and off-net (Wi-Fi) traffic, ensuring that issues of user authentication and authorization do not detract from a seamless user experience. In a roaming context, this also means a seamless handover between GSM and Wi-Fi, or between GSM and CDMA, dependent upon network availability and access choice. This requirement for inter-standard roaming reflects the broader LTE requirement for seamless inter-operability across multiple network technology options whether in a roaming or domestic environment.
LTE is still at a relatively early phase in the adoption cycle, but certain key issues have emerged, including the need to support a mix of technologies for several years to come, the need to embrace customer experience management as a service differentiator and the possibility to extract value from over-the-top (OTT) players, through the ability to seamlessly integrate a combination of Wi-Fi, Small Cell and 3G/LTE technology as part of a blended service mix.
[i] Gartner ‘What 4G/LTE Has to Offer and How to Embrace It’ – Published: 22 June 2012 ID:G00230287