Apps on a Timer

Whereas bundled content was a critical factor in UK customers’ uptake of mobile data services, customers in India demonstrated a preference for operators enabling them to easily understand and control their data usage.

As a means to support this, in March 2014, Telenor-held Uninor in India presented a new strategy: “When consumers use Internet services for social networking, messaging, browsing and emails, there is no reason why operators should serve and charge for MBs and gigabytes (GBs),” said Jinesh Hegde, Circle Business Head Gujarat, Uninor. “Uninor is putting an end to these confusing tariffs by offering the services at flat rates for unlimited usage.”

Uninor launched affordable, time-based service packages that encourage customers to stay connected with their friends and families on social networking sites. For example, they can buy plans to access WhatsApp or Facebook for one day, one week or one month.

The barrier to trying out mobile data was suddenly very low. By offering users flexible packages at nearly any price point, Uninor practically guaranteed increased revenue. The operator has an average monthly ARPU of 1.3 EUR, but now is seeing this grow dramatically; a customer subscribing to the monthly Facebook option lifts that ARPU by 20 percent.

This is just an emerging market example of this mobile data monetisation tactic – let’s not forget the “rest of month” opportunity in mature markets. Since mobile data usage grows by about 60-100% a year in mature markets, an increasing number of customers will run out of data before the month is over.

Facing this situation, some customers top up their data allowance, whereas others might upgrade their plan to one with more data included. A majority of customers are, however, not doing anything and are rather waiting out the month, relying on Wi-Fi connectivity for service use until their data allotment refreshes with their next billing cycle.

App time-based charging addresses this market perfectly, presenting a significant revenue channel for digital and communications service providers. Few customers might be willing to top up with 1 GB of data the last day of a month, but many would be willing to spend a small sum on having continuous WhatsApp or Instagram access, for example.

Operators that use predictive analytics and can flexibly adjust policies to automatically trigger certain offers like this in real time will stand to differentiate and greatly profit from innovative service alterations.

Collaboration, Not Competition

Bundling content and allowing for time-based app charging presents a significant revenue opportunity. Digital and communications service providers need to do all they can to convince customers to not go with the competition or even wait out the rest of the month for their next allotment of data. Otherwise, they stand to miss monetisation opportunities.

The harmony of policy control, charging and analytics play an essential role here – the agility and flexibility offered by the right solution can help monitor app usage to guarantee that customised packages are offered at the right time when they are needed.

With unique offers combining the best of both the operator and OTT worlds, Vodafone UK and Uninor have proven that they have the tricks of the trade to be successful in Nexterday.


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