The increase in data consumption driven by smartphones and other connected devices, such as TVs and gaming consoles, is not being matched by an equivalent increase in revenue, let alone profits. This is due to the "all you can eat" nature of most pricing plans offered today.
Operators have no choice but to leave behind flat-rate data plans, as continually investing in network capacity to accommodate bandwidth demands is proving unprofitable. Hence, operators are now looking to more advanced pricing approaches such as, tiered data plans as part of a new monetization model that closely ties pricing to both bandwidth consumption and perceived value. Though good in theory, execution is proving difficult as disparate legacy BSS systems and inconsistent internal strategies hamper such efforts.
Heavy Reading conducted a survey of 46 global operators asking about their attitudes toward advanced data plans, the obstacles they may face in implementing such plans, and their understanding and perceived benefits of a unified, converged BSS approach.
The strong majority of those surveyed (77% of wireless respondents, 74% of integrated fixed/mobile operators and 100% of MVNOs) agree that more advanced data plans will be essential for better monetization. In moving beyond flat-rate, operators recognize they will need to have a more customer-centric approach by providing offerings such as data plans targeted to specific user groups and mechanisms that give subscribers effective, real-time control of their spending.
However, even though customer-centric data plans seem the logical next step for operators, implementation is proving difficult as operators encounter many hurdles. Operators identify some of the more prominent hurdles as delays in product and pricing plan launches and IT and network teams not working congruently. Though significant, these hurdles are internal and can be changed with proper systems and management emphasis.
Operators feel that these hurdles are brought about by the shortcomings of existing systems, specifically: the lack of a unified offer management capability; the lack of real-time transaction management ability; and the lack of a unified view of subscribers and their services in existing business support systems (BSS). Furthermore, wireless operators (due to limited spectrum feel the pressures of increased data consumption more acutely) believe that the lack of unification, integration and synchronization between policy management and BSS systems, as well as siloed BSS systems are key reasons keeping them from implementing innovative charging for advanced data services.