Mobile network operators must offer unlimited data, says vendor

Mobile network operators should use optimization technology to provide unlimited data to subscribers—including video, says Openwave Mobility

Mobile network operators must offer unlimited data, says vendor
Pexels (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Reinforcing a suspicion that wireless subscribers aren’t offered unlimited data because of monetization reasons, not technical limitations or limited bandwidth available, the head of a bandwidth-optimization firm says mobile network operators should stop quibbling and open the pipes—wide.

The worry about revenue loss when offering unlimited data is unfounded, says John Giere, president and CEO of Openwave Mobility.

Generous data allowance offerings are doable with Quality of Experience (QoE)-based video optimization “to reduce video stalling, matched with innovative data plans to attract subscribers,” he says in a press release on his website.

The success of T-Mobile’s zero-rating Binge On unlimited video service proves it’s workable, Giere says.

+ Also on Network World: Unlimited Data’s resurgence due to SDN, says AT&T +

Zero-rating is where a mobile network doesn’t bill the end user for certain applications, while they charge tiered pricing for other services. T-Mobile USA has been doing it with video streaming. Customers pay for data generally, but not video. Giere says mobile network operators can offer unlimited services and make money on tiers at the same time.

Most mobile data traffic is, or will shortly, be video, and a quarter of regular app users use video streaming apps, according to a Deloitte study published earlier this year.

Openwave Mobility’s zero-rating product compresses data. It also manages traffic through encryption and TCP optimization, the company explains on its website.

“Together these accelerate the Mobile Internet experience and selectively optimize the delivery of video, web and audio content in encrypted and unencrypted formats” with a dashboard for traffic profiling, it says.

No excuse for limiting data

In other words, the company says there’s no excuse for limiting data use—networks won’t give the store away because they can still upsell. And in case operators think they could be giving away too much, Openwave Mobility offers to help them devise a monetization plan, including upselling.

Its core argument as to why mobile network operators must adopt Binge On-like offerings is based on a survey it conducted in Europe. The U.S.-based company says it found that over half of subscribers in Europe would be quite happy to drop their mobile network operator in favor of one that offered “unlimited video-data plans.” T-Mobile’s Binge On plan is not available in Europe.

“More than half of subscribers (57 percent) across the U.K., France and Germany would consider switching mobile operators in order to get unlimited video,” Openwave Mobility says.

That does make sense. People do appear to want mobile video. In fact, mobile equipment maker Ericsson says mobile video will grow 55 percent per year through 2021.

When asked, two thirds of European millennials and Generation Xers said in Openwave Mobility’s study that “they would consider abandoning their mobile operator in favor of a competitor offering unlimited video” and pay for it. They said they would hand over €9, or $10 a month, for it, according to the 2,000 person survey, run by Censuswide.

Other zero-rated services would also be popular, including music and social media, and roaming, among other genres.

“Zero-rating doesn't have to start and stop at video,” Openwave Mobility’s website says. Plus, inline purchase and a self-care dashboard for users—which it offers—increase attractiveness for such plans, it says.

“There are fears of revenue loss, but this study and our work with mobile operators shows that zero-rating the right plan and the right service increases both uptake and overall revenues. T-Mobile USA has demonstrated that,” Giere says in his release.

Not everyone is as enamored with Binge On. Northeastern University researchers say it’s hard to figure out how to change settings back to obtain full resolution video when a user wants to. The free T-Mobile USA product can be blurry, they say.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Now read: Getting grounded in IoT