We’ll remember 2011 as the year of mobile broadband. Rapid deployment of HSPA+ and LTE networks, the boom of tablet sales and the promises of cloud technology will shape our industry for the foreseeable future. In 2012, I expect to see the following developments -- related to pricing tariff innovations, content, networks, and devices -- advance our industry several steps towards a truly personalized experience.
First, one new type of pricing plan next year will be the “upside-down” model. Instead of upselling from a base monthly plan (for example, $2 for a one-time turbo boost or $10 a month for unlimited social networking), operators will unveil a new option --a higher-priced baseline of data tiers and a second set of discounted tiers for subscribers who want to lower their bill in exchange for best-effort speed when the network is congested.
This type of plan is a win for both operators’ businesses and their customers because subscribers personalize plans by the amount of data and the quality of service they want, opting for a consistent speed at a higher price or discounts during congested periods. Instead of subscribers paying for more with a variety of upsell options, they can pay less. In addition, those who want simple pricing tariffs have a new option to choose.
Also, with this type of plan, operators establish a profitable baseline. Subscribers who want consistently high speeds and quality of service for real-time media, including video, will pay appropriately for their bandwidth speeds and traffic in the network. Further, regulators receive net neutrality compliance because subscribers choose to receive best-effort service.
In addition, we expect to see more operators follow the path of StarHub and other operators by offering shared data plans. Infonetics Research predicts that the number of devices sold on shared data plans will more than double from 2011 to 2012, with tablets more than tripling. Operators in mature markets like Singapore, Japan and South Korea will offer more plans for individuals, families and businesses to bundle mobile data plans into a large pool of data. As these plans grow in popularity, Infonetics anticipates a greater need for policy management, subscriber data management and Diameter routing in the core of the network to manage more complex pricing plans and billing structures.