Mobile internet telcos need to help customers to help themselves

Surging data traffic demands on mobile internet networks are placing too heavy a burden on capacity, meaning that a rethink is needed by operators on how to cope with the continued rise in demand.

According to a report by analyst outfit Ovum, it is becoming increasingly important for mobile network operators to manage the demands placed on their services, with a new method for managing traffic load required.

In order to combat this problem, personalised tariffs are essential to make better use of the spectrum that operators have, by using information stored on their business support systems to provide more tailored pricing plans to customers.

With the massive growth seen in the market for 3G enabled devices, volumes of mobile data have rocketed, and this is only expected to continue with a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent expected up to 2015 – with more than half of usage expected to be for bandwidth intensive video streaming.

While some operators have already put into place plans that, for example, offer discounts at the weekend and evening in a bid to control flow of data, this does not go far enough, and this does not allow operators to maximise their potential to draw revenues.

Analyst Clare McCarthy believes that one way of resolving this is to have more highly tailored plans, suited to user’s needs so that traffic can be diverted to less intensive times, also providing a better service to customers in general.

“Segmented data plans are one way of increasing revenues, and they can also help deliver a better customer experience,” said McCarthy.

“For example, an enterprise is more likely than a family to pay for guaranteed bandwidth, priority service availability and predefined access controls.”

While operators are increasing capacity McCarthy believes that it is still vital to implement more intelligent use of existing spectrum. “Many are upgrading to LTE, however there is still the issue of spectrum constraints,” McCarthy told TechEye.

“It makes sense for mobile network operators to ensure they and their customers are getting the most out of what they have.

“This approach can ensure a fair price feeds through to the mobile network operators and that customers receive the sort of experience they expect and are entitled to.”

Operators can also encourage consumer’s access to specific applications, such as offering cheaper access to Facebook during a specified time, useful in emerging markets as well as in moving traffic to off-peak times.

If operators are able to do this then, and presuming that they don’t attempt to oversell what they are able to do like certain broadband providers, then it could result in a win for all concerned.

However McCarthy believes that in order to allow for speeds to be more consistent in reaching the maximum it is necessary to avoid congestion of traffic. “One finds there is very limited availability very early in morning or late at night and multiple restrictions apply, meaning the up to speeds can be similarly limited.

“The speed availability depends on usage and load at a given time. This is particularly true on mobile networks where cells ‘breath’ based on network load.”