The days of unlimited data plans are numbered. Already, tier-one operators in the US and Europe are transitioning to consumption-based pricing models.
Today, the tiers we see are mostly volume-based with caps at each level. But imagine metering usage based on time of day, speed of access, or content type. Operators could target heavy social network users with unlimited access to Facebook in the evenings.
As the market matures, we expect savvy marketers to take tiered services and pricing to the next level where the real value comes from the flexibility and transparency with which operators can empower their subscribers to discover (and maybe one day create) the right data plan for them.
Effective traffic and demand management depends on in-network analytics. Mobile service providers have virtual reservoirs full of subscriber data. Analytics can collect, aggregate and translate disparate data into actionable business intelligence.
Analytics-driven traffic reports can locate and alleviate bottlenecks across the access network, backhaul or applications and websites. By pinpointing the users and devices most likely to cause network congestion, your traffic optimisation techniques are that much more effective. Analytics can also help guide the operator to increased revenue by identifying popular mobile Internet and data trends on which to base relevant services, promotions and premium content.
Currently, the wireless ecosystem is actively pursuing a more strategic and practical way to make use of the fantastic amount of customer data that wireless carriers have in their possession. It is not news that carriers are making minimal usage of this rich customer data, but neither has the industry risen to the challenge of profiting from this resource.
The future of the mobile Internet
As the mobile Internet evolves, I believe we will continue to see growth in demand for mobile data. Even if the consumer appetite plateaus, the growing number of connected devices means machine-to-machine communication could make up the bulk of the traffic flowing across networks.
According to the Cisco Visual Network Index report, globally, mobile data traffic is expected to double every year through 2014, increasing 39 times between 2009 and 2014 . Operators with a clearly defined strategy for managing and monetising this high bandwidth traffic will be the winners in the future.
Today, we are witnessing an inflection point at the intersection of the Internet and telecommunications. Networks, devices and content are in place to allow constant connection at an affordable price. Connecting to the people and the information that matter to uswhenever and wherever we wantchanges how we communicate. This change is expected to bring dramatic improvement in our societies and quality of life. It will certainly play a key role in the next surge of economic growth.
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