Explaining why the service provider could not offer unlimited data packages, 02’s UK chief executive, Ronan Dunne said, “If we were to offer unlimited [data] I couldn’t guarantee that all our customers get the same great experience right across the country. Somebody else, by using the network unlimited, might interfere with your experience.”
Andy Huckridge, director of service provider solutions at Gigamon, a global provider of intelligent Traffic Visibility solutions for enterprises, data centres and service providers, has made the following comments:
“4G has been a much awaited development since the government’s spectrum auction was successfully completed in February. Many subscribers have been patiently waiting for service providers to begin offering use of the networks and, given the high speeds on offer, may well have expected to receive unlimited data with their contract plans to truly realise the potential of 4G. It may come as a blow for subscribers to discover their ability to stream HD media, run always-on apps or surf the internet could, ultimately, be restricted.
“While the concerns raised by Ronan Dunne are certainly valid, subscriber-level intelligence can now be utilised by network carriers to grey the edges of what were previously one-size fits all data packages. In other words, with the right subscriber-model planning and correct use of service metrics and analytics, the impact of bandwidth heavy users can easily be mitigated. Tools are readily available to help service providers gain deep intelligence in order to create innovative billing scenarios and pricing strategies based on actual usage patterns, subscriber location, type of service data, downloaded and premium level content. Not only will this improve customer loyalty, but it will help operators reposition their businesses to become more service-centric – bringing the possibility of new revenue streams with it. These new visibility enabled earnings are the path forwards for operators – versus bringing prior generation billing plans to 4G networks.
“In the wake of 4G, carriers should be demanding the ability to prioritise critical traffic flows or applications over non-essential ones, which they can do with greater visibility into their network traffic. With this capability, next generation networks can be efficiently designed and customer service improved – even to the extent of offering unlimited data plans as a competitive differentiator. Developments such as 4G really offer carriers an opportunity to provide not only the services their subscribers want, but in the way those subscribers prefer to receive them. Carriers that don’t architect their networks with this flexibility and visibility in mind will be locked into prior generation service and revenue creation models. Visibility into the types of traffic, how much traffic and subscriber intelligence give carriers the tools they need to ultimately offer the services their subscribers want – be that unlimited data or not.”