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Telcos urged to innovate data tariffs to counter OTT threat

Operators need to get better at billing for data

Operators need to get better at billing for data

At LTE North America in Dallas this week, a panel featuring Wireless 2020, IBM, Allot Communications and US-based MVNO FreedomPop urged the service provider community to develop more flexible and tailored data bundles for customers.

During a discussion focused on future revenue generation opportunities, conversation moved towards the current landscape which is seeing telcos lose ground to over the top content providers. Ken Jackson from IBM Now Factory believes that moving to specific and tailored, content-based services is a feasible opportunity for operators to monetise services in new ways.

“Let’s look at the example of a service called NFL Now, a friend of mine can watch as much NFL as he wants, and doesn’t pay for the data he uses, he pays to watch football,” he said. “We have to return the value proposition to the customer, find out what it is they want to do, and offer it to them. Make everything customer centric, and orchestrate your business around what they need”

Haig Sarkissian from Wireless 2020 concurred with Jackson, and urged the service provider community to move away from basic all-you-can-eat data plans.

“5% of the heaviest users consume 40-50% of the network, and they pay the same as the majority,” he said. “That’s why unlimited data plans are unfair, because the majority are subsidising the data usage of the minority. Operators find that this is no longer scalable because if you eat more you have to invest more into capacity. I don’t see it changing any time in the future, unless there’s a fair way of using these “dumb pipe” plans. Is there hope for SP differentiation outside of these unlimited data plans?”

Allot Communications’ John Priest said service delivery is becoming far more personalised and tailored than in the past, suggesting operators should have a think about how they allow users to access the information and the content they want.

“I think we need things like VAS for the customer to make them feel in control of what they need. It’s not just the volume, it’s about the content they want and delivering that to them. Users want to know what they’re consuming, so the SP has to know what they’re consuming and how they’re consuming it, so that you can be more proactive in the customer care and guarantee a higher quality of service.”

“But here are a couple of examples of opportunities for SPs to generate revenue aside from traditional voice and data pricing models. Sponsored data solutions, for example, sees the user get free data if they’re going to certain sites, which is a partnership between the SP and the content provider. Similarly to music streaming services, SPs can strike up a partnership with advertisers.”

US MVNO FreedomPop’s Mauricio Sastre suggested there are opportunities for partnerships between carriers, app developers and content providers, help users consume new applications for reduced costs, or for free.

“In an effort to get their app out there, the app developers are considering paying for the data that their app consumes, so there can be a subsidised way for users to consume their application.”

Of course, when debating content services over service provider networks, we naturally reach the inevitable pain point of net neutrality, Wireless 2020’s Sarkissian rounded of the discussion on such a note.

“When do we get into the net neutrality debate, the big elephant in the room? Do you decide to charge more for content from Netflix, or NFL Now, or WebRTC services?” he said. “In my opinion, any resource that’s finite, and has the potential to be fully consumed, should be left alone from regulation. Otherwise you jeopardise the investment into, and the competition of, all of these services.”

Unlocking new data revenues with real-time contextual offers | Wednesday 10th December 2014 at 3pm UK time

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Wednesday 10th December 2014

Time variations: 3.00pm London, 4.00pm Paris, 10.00am New York

Mobile operators can increase global data revenues by 15% by triggering upsell offers based on the real-time customer context (e.g. usage information, application access, location, profile etc). This is one of the main findings from a survey of 87 operators carried out in October 2014. This webinar discusses how operators can leverage real-time contextual offers to drive more data revenues.

Attend the webinar to discover:

•    The impact of real-time contextual offers on uptake rates, loyalty and costs
•    How operators can use real-time contextual offers to stimulate spend, data usage and extend the data user base
•    Key requirements for operators to effectively enable real-time contextual offers

Click here to register for this webinar

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Intersec nabs $20m to bolster telco big data initiatives

Intersec will use the $  20m to expand outside the telecoms sector

Intersec will use the $ 20m to expand outside the telecoms sector

Intersec has secured $ 20m in a round of funding that the company will use to bolster the reach of its big data platform for telcos and its expansion outside of telecoms.

Telecom networks generate tons of data and many are looking to big data platforms to help them reduce churn, improve operational efficiency or create new revenue streams by using that data in clever ways.

Intersec, which was founded in 2009, offers a platform that claims to do just that: improve operational efficiency of networks by delivering insight into how customers use those networks, and generate new revenue / decrease churn by offering contextually aware services that take consumer preference and location-based data into consideration.

The platform is already being used by Orange and Telefónica among other large operators, and the company said it plans to use the funding to bolster its reach in telecoms and apply the technology outside of the sector, particularly in the US.

“Intersec has successfully transitioned over the last few years into the leading player in telco big data software, building on its leadership in Europe,” said Yann Chevalier, chief executive officer at Intersec. “The US market is key to our success and we plan to invest significantly to expand our US Headquarters in New York.”

Research and analysis firm A.T. Kearney predicts that the market for big data software and services will grow 30 per cent annually to reach $ 114bn by 2018, in part because many large firms – not just telcos – are grappling with the same core challenge: how to deliver the right offer or service to the right person at the right time.

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Android updates crippling UK users’ data speeds

Ice Cream Sandwich updates are taking users beyond their data limits

Some UK operators pushing out Android OS updates over their cellular networks are doing so without notifying users that the download will take them beyond their monthly data allowance.

A number of Android handsets running on older versions of the platform received updates to version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, last week. However, when the notifications were pushed out, they were typically done so over cellular networks, and users who were not connected to wifi networks at the time had the 250MB-plus download taken out of their data allowance.

For many users, this took them over their data limit, and they are now experiencing a throttled service, with the operator slowing down the rate at which the handset accepts data.

O2, the UK arm of Telefónica, admitted that the updates that it pushes out count towards the user’s data allowance, but said that the onus rests on the user to alter their connectivity settings before accepting the download, to ensure that it does not take them over their limit.

“We recommend that customers who don’t want to use up their data allowance get the update via wifi or the desktop app,” the operator told “It’s pushed out by us but you can choose when to download it.”

Vodafone said that Samsung users had been receiving the update for the past two weeks via Kies, Samsung’s device firmware update portal. However, the operator is now pushing the update to its users over-the-air, but stressed that it does notify users that they should download it using a wifi connection.

“The update is more than 250MB, so as a user, whenever you receive an update stating that the new version is available, you will also be notified that the upgrade is larger than 250MB and told to update over wifi, otherwise you may incur charges from your operator,” a spokesperson said.


How are OS updates delivered in your market? Let us know in the “comments” section below. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

iPhone 4S is as data hungry as three iPhone 3Gs

The iPhone 4S is the hungriest data device

The typical Apple iPhone 4S user is equivalent to two iPhone 4 users and three iPhone 3G users in terms of data demand, according to a report released Friday.

Network optimisation firm Arieso, reported the findings in a research paper following a similar study carried out by the firm in 2010. The company’s CTO, Michael Flanagan, who briefed on the report expressed some surprise at the headline finding – that the iPhone 4S is the hungriest handset on the market – especially given the rise of Android over the past 12 months.

The study was carried out on the data demands of over 1.1 million distinct subscribers over a single, 24 period in a Tier-1 market with a mixture of urban and suburban morphologies, focusing on popular devices which were represented by at least 1000 subscribers. The iPhone 3G was chosen as a “normalised benchmark,” although the study found that different users and different devices exhibit very different demands on the network.

Android is picking up the pace however, according to the findings, the Google Nexus One by HTC has twice the data calls per subscriber compared to the iPhone 3G. By way of comparison, the iPhone 4S shows 54 per cent more data calls per subscriber than the iPhone 3G. Greater ease of use arguments may apply to both devices here but Flanagan also warns not to discount the operating system and related, potentially excessive, signalling demands of the smartphone on the number of data calls. Something that remains a topic of on-going study by network operators.

The HTC Desire S revealed a dramatic 223per cent increase in uplink data volumes per subscriber compared to the iPhone 3G. Increases in uplink data volumes are largely expected to be due to corresponding increases in user generated content, and the Desire S may be significant in its implementation of higher speed HSPA+ connectivity on both the uplink and downlink.

Data downlink volumes are still rising of course. The iPhone 4S showed an increase of 176 per cent in downlink data volumes over the iPhone 3G, quantifying the importance of the metric for purposes of network planning and optimisation. Flanagan notes that the device appears to unleash data consumption behaviours that have no precedent.

Indeed, following on from the 2010 study, Arieso’s latest analysis reveals that so called ‘extreme’ users are becoming even more extreme, with just one per cent of subscribers now consuming half of all downloaded data. The vast majority of these are dongle users treating their connection as they would fixed line broadband but 33 per cent are smartphone users and the remaining three per cent are tablet users. Usage in these cases tends to be stationary rather than mobile, so Flanagan suggests that these users might be prime targets for femtocells, or in some cases, just getting rid of.

On a related note, Flanagan suggested an application of such data mining, which operators can and should be doing on a regular basis, in helping them recommend devices to customers. “Say a certain customer comes in to upgrade his device to a smartphone and tells you where he spends most of his time. The operator looks on a map and sees the usage profiles for that particular area. The result might mean some devices are more appropriate ones for this person to move towards than others. It’s an informed piece of advice and can be used to manage expectations at the point of sale.” is publishing feature length content on customer experience management in the telecoms space in February. Sign up to get it in your inbox. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Alcatel-Lucent’s SDN subsidiary confirms cloud data centre implementation

Nuage Networks provides data centre SDN to OVH

Nuage Networks provides data centre SDN to OVH

Alcatel-Lucent’s software defined networking (SDN) subsidiary, Nuage Networks, has announced that it will be providing its Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) to global hosting firm OVH. The deployment of VSP in data centres across Europe and North America will deliver “OpenStack as a Service” to OVH.

In an official statement, the OVH Group outlined its primary business motivations for opting for a data centre-based SDN solution. The company will be investing heavily in innovative network solutions, such as VSP, with the aim of optimizing operating costs and delivering competitively priced services.

With the SDN architecture running across the data centre, OVH hopes that the “OpenStack as a Service” offering will enable customers to access dedicated Cloud infrastructure. As a consequence, OVH claims that its cloud data centres can instantly and dynamically determine resources required for a requested application in accordance with established policies.

“The Nuage Networks SDN technology allows us to offer our customers cloud services in a more dynamic way, giving them the capability to reduce their time-to-market with a programmable and automated networking environment,” said Octave Klaba, CEO and founder of OVH.

SDN solutions, when applied through the data centre, allow service providers to benefit financially and operationally through a combination of decreased expenditure, increased flexibility, management and control functionality, as well as delivering reduced time to market service provisioning.

Sunil Khandekar, Nuage Networks CEO, believes that Nuage Networks are well positioned to deliver SDN to service providers like OVH. “We are excited to work with OVH in support of their dedicated cloud initiative, which will allow them to deliver attractive and innovative cloud services to their European and international customers, while making their infrastructure more agile, responsive, and cost effective,” he said.

The announcement from Nuage is not the first time we’ve seen an SDN vendor working with a cloud service provider. Earlier this year, Juniper Networks concluded a project with Cloud Dynamics to provide its SDN controller “Contrail” across its series of data centres. As SDN continues to mature, more announcements of similar partnerships are almost certain as we move towards 2015.

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