Home Asia-Pacific I 2013 Mobile broadband vs. customer demand

Mobile broadband vs. customer demand

by david.nunes
Kelvin Lee Issue:Asia-Pacific I 2013
Article no.:15
Topic:Mobile broadband vs. customer demand
Author:Kelvin Lee
Title:Senior General Manager
Organisation:Green Packet
PDF size:217KB

About author

Kelvin Lee is the Senior General Manager of Green Packet Berhad where he heads its Green Packet Solutions division. In his current role, he runs the division’s operations, sales and marketing, product development, engineering and business development functions across SEA, Oceania, China, Europe, Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. The Division is charting its next phase of sustainable growth with geographical diversification through market development in the regions of America and Africa.

Kelvin Lee has over 20 years of experience in IT and telecommunications in consulting, sales and marketing in prominent multi-national companies.

Article abstract

The iPhone altered the way consumers interact and view their services. Customer demand for mobile broadband has since grown more rapidly than most carriers can accommodate. With LTE, voice and messaging are migrating to an all-IP environment that makes efficient use of network resource, but operators need a new mobile ecosystem that harmonizes the interests of mobile carriers, OTT content providers and major Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and the like to guarantee a payback on their investments.

Full Article

As networks converge, carriers, service providers, operators all need to provide significantly better performance and differentiate their products and services to survive. The list of concerns include how to leverage core assets to integrate and optimize their networks. They need multi-platform support to economically bolster capacity and deliver high quality service to drive revenue gains. In the early days of converged IP networks, carriers were somewhat complacent; they were convinced that network advances would build sufficient resilience to meet demand. Then the iPhone sparked and altered the way consumers interact and view their services.

The irony of converged IP services is two-sided. As voice and messaging migrates to all-IP environment with LTE to make efficient use of network resource, new data-intensive services like rich video-on-demand streaming thrive and drive the need for bandwidth to new levels. Carriers in every region need to invest heavily to meet the growing demand. Users now expect the Internet to deliver HDTV, share files, run peer-to-peer services, and provide high-quality gaming – all of which demand high speeds and immediate reactivity. Web-based communities and services, largely unheard of a decade ago, like Facebook and Google Play are pervasive; by encouraging interactivity they drive the need for ever-greater capacity needs.

Beyond big pipes
Mobile web-enabled smart-devices are common; at US$50-$100 low to mid-range smartphones are affordable; at these prices, devices with WiFi capability included are a steal. ABI research says that the more than 1.5 billion smart-devices shipped in 2012 will be soon surpassed. This will drive greater use of data intensive applications, accelerate the growth of mobile data and aggravate carrier network congestion. The rollout of wireless broadband access will require robust backhaul and mobile core networks.
Transmission needs – whether Carrier Ethernet, GPON or direct fibre – extend beyond enabling the transport of high speed data; the networks will need not only to provide the low jitter, low latency necessary for mission critical traffic, it must also offer redundancy, security and transparency.

Multiple solutions promising superior speeds and capacity are most often limited by network design Standardized protocols now support new Ethernet and fibre technology that can carry up to Gigabytes of data – ten times faster than previous generations – and have QoS support. By laying bigger pipes for faster transmission, costs carriers more and often only offer temporary relief without resolving the issues. Capacity boosts are increasingly short-lived as bandwidth hungry content, including popular OTT services, easily fills the carrier’s pipes and causes radio-link bottlenecks. Instead of expanding without end or payback, carriers need to negotiate mutually beneficial terms with OTT developers to protect their model, without cannibalizing their business or diluting their market value.
Operators traditionally sell their own service offerings to their subscribers within a closely guarded geographical market. Today, though, networks must be dynamic enough to offer services provided by a broad variety of sources. For example, messaging services is fiercely popular in parts of Asia Pacific markets like Philippines and Indonesia. In addition, bundled data services provide access to globally recognized services offered via Facebook, Google and such. Consumers do not want a service that restricts them to one network.
The payoff for mobile broadband services cannot rely entirely upon LTE; it should build on third party platforms like YouTube and aggregate popular content on top of customized content. Much as social networks and search function, these can serve within a broader mobile partnership ecosystem and spinoff opportunities for mobile marketing and mobile money.
Carriers of course must take bold steps to ensure they can deliver all types of traffic via any network mix of 3G, 4G and LTE to WiFi and to guarantee there is sufficient backhaul capacity and effective control between radio-links.
Some carriers already have abundant fibre assets they can monetize through wholesale models that allow MVNOs to brand their service. Ultimately, carriers want to make their networks cost-effective, easier to manage and simple to use regardless of technology employed. MVNOs, which in their early days – like OTT – were seen as a threat is, are resurfacing in a different manner. Giants like China Mobile are opening foreign markets by establishing their own MVNOs abroad – like Everything Everywhere UK – that their clients can deal with when travelling. They benefit by servicing their own customers when they travel – thereby avoid costly service and roaming agreements. These MVNOs also acquire local customers and build new markets for China Mobil – a win-win situation.

Universal service and the connected device
Carriers are working rapidly to include quad-play type services bundle voice, data, broadband Internet and TV and make them available on multiple screen. Providers of syndicated content will see boundaries weakening between the end-users and carriers as they both move to the web using cloud-models that offer more efficient delivery. New business models will leverage highly personalized rich services over the cloud. The merging of computing and wireless technology and the harmonization of multiple platforms will facilitate access to sophisticated financial, healthcare, M2M and other applications via the mobile web.
Obviously, neither carriers nor content providers will part with lucrative licensing agreements for syndicated content as yet. They need to protect some of their high value content and premium services and deliver it seamlessly, with a consistently high-quality user experience.
To do so they need an integrated mobile network ecosystem that recognizes device, network and application. Technically, their network architectures should securely and reliably support their service delivery platforms regardless of the access technology used.
Carriers in Japan and Singapore are forging ahead with unique platforms that enable new types of services. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo is leading the market with upgraded cloud-compatible platforms. Its market content and service portal will give customers of rival operators’ access to shopping, gaming and content purchases that can easily pay for via monthly service bill.
Smart devices are equipped with wireless communication capabilities, but they lack a standardized framework that could let them detect alternate available networks, connection states, devices, broadcast capabilities or let them solicit information to recognize and use the services of peers. Carriers need standards for seamless connectivity to enable such services, in a way that is both independent of and transparent to users.

Harmonizing the experience
No single solution resolves the issues of congested networks and the needs for ever-faster pipes, big capacity and swift returns. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of best practices to adopt. Advances of 4G can help maximize the use of existing 2G, 3G and WiFi assets. It is critical to understand the circumstances of how, when and where it makes sense to invest in alternative small cell or WiFi strategies, but correctly modelling the business case can focus the deployment strategies.

Notwithstanding cultural, social, economic and privacy concerns over cooperation with OTT providers, carriers can, potentially, produce a sizable enough and credible platform to reverse their fortunes in the ecosystem. Carriers need an efficient strategy to inexpensively aggregate and download a wide variety of traffic to a wide variety of destinations while optimising the service quality and minimising the complexity.

Lasting customer relationships
As part of a holistic end-to-end initiative, carriers want to understand their customer instead of just selling tariffs. By obtaining data intelligence via mobile analytics, carriers can fortify their customer relationships by offering highly personalised of services. Carriers can use in-depth subscriber profiling to target their marketing campaigns, content and provide direct, in-app, mobile billing support which Internet companies cannot.
With real-time presence-based services, the end-user can determine how, when and whom the device selects and identifies the form of communication. Understanding these interactions can unfold new opportunities to manage the customers’ complete relationship with the carrier and to precisely direct access to relevant third party services like Foursquare, Spotify and more. By shifting the focus to consumer behaviour analysis, carriers can better support and harmonise the customer’s experience.

Challenges remain; carriers have big decisions to make and considerable investments in the necessary IT consolidation, sharing of intelligence and data across organizational boundaries. It is vital for carriers to take bold measures to face the challenges from the mobile Internet that are impacting their businesses. Carriers must develop the ability to forge strong relations with an ecosystem of partners, resellers and integrators, whose platforms can leverage the existing wireless network.

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