With the roll out of LTE networks around the world, mobile data usage is skyrocketing, opening the door to a wealth of new revenue opportunities for communications service providers. However, at the same time, operators are being challenged to find ways monetise LTE services beyond basic access fees, while maintaining a high quality of experience (QoE) for subscribers.
Today, most LTE pricing schemes are based primarily on speed and the number of gigabytes consumed. However, as LTE moves towards the mainstream, operators will be forced to introduce new service differentiators in order to remain competitive and increase LTE revenues. That being said, in the not too distant future, emphasis on LTE speed will be replaced with the introduction of more personalised LTE “experiences”, including unique value-added services.
With the growing popularity of over-the-top (OTT) players like Facebook, Skype and Netflix on LTE networks, operators who properly leverage OTT traffic intelligence today stand to benefit greatly in the long run.
Unlike 3G, where traffic detection (or deep packet inspection – DPI) was animportant tool to help manage network traffic and reduce congestion, the 3GPP forum has defined traffic detection as an integral function for LTE networks. A feature of the 3GPP Release 11 LTE standard, “Traffic Detection Function” (TDF) enables operators to view critical data across their networks and obtain actionable subscriber insight.
By enabling operators to easily identify the subscriber, the application, and content in use, as well as the device, TDF enables carriers to create personalised application-based service tiers and offerings that uniquely match subscriber preferences. Such packages can include tailored gaming, social networking, video streaming and other services.
This network visibility provides greater flexibility when it comes to managing quality of service, charging for use, and steering traffic to value-added services. Moreover, the introduction of new personalised pricing plans deeply appeals to subscribers, helping to generate new revenue, increase QoE and reduce churn.
In addition to introducing new pricing plans, TDF enables operators to create device-based service offerings. For example, operators can identify mobile tethering and apply a premium charging plan. Additionally, TDF lets operators enhance the quality of service for applications like VoIP or video streaming, and then charge more for premium experiences. Finally, TDF enables carriers to easily migrate from 3G to 4G LTE, while keeping policies, speed, and quality of service consistent.
In today’s competitive market, it is clear that DPI technologies, which are at the core of TDF, are no longer a ‘nice feature to have’; they are essential tools to both enhance the service provider’s business and enrich subscriber experience. Those operators that invest in understanding OTT traffic patterns and are able to successfully translate the data into new, personalised and differentiated service plans, will enjoy a competitive advantage, while reaping the benefits of optimised network performance and new revenue streams.