Why ISP’s Need Data Monetization

Why ISP’s Need Data Monetization

Why ISP's Need Data Monetization

18th of June 2021

The Way Things Were, Is the Way Things Are.

Even as mobile plans continue to evolve and become increasingly more unique, the majority of internet service providers (ISPs) in the world are still offering the same plans they were offering 20 years ago: flat-rate, monthly plans with a specific QoS (bandwidth speed) and unlimited data. ISP offers are simple because that is what customers have traditionally demanded from ISPs. The customers seem happy with what they are receiving, and ISPs don’t see any reason to fix what isn’t broken.

Or Are They?

However, internet usage has changed, as the adoption of streaming and other over-the-top (OTT) apps continue to increase. Gone are the days of simple browsing. Internet usage has become a bandwidth-straining practice encompassing a wide range of OTT apps including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and many more. This diverse, but consistently draining usage can create a strain on provider networks, which may already find it challenging to distinguish themselves in a saturated marketplace. ISPs must now face the fact that their traditional offerings are no longer the best means of business. The flat rate plan that used to be a great deal for the provider, has now become a steal for the customers.

The Solution is Data Monetization

Through the use of a data monetization strategy, ISPs can address both issues at once by preserving network integrity through fine-grained plans that cater to customers’ exact needs as they arise. A data monetization platform gives ISPs the power to create a network where a broad selection of customer behaviors can be catered to precisely, meaning that data is used and rated as efficiently and profitably as possible.

The Key is Differentiation

Now, data monetization solutions aren’t for everyone. Data monetization isn’t just a simple change, but rather an entirely new way of doing business for ISPs. Data monetization is for ISPs who are looking to differentiate themselves in a shifting marketplace by offering advanced business plans to combat the ever-increasing data use, innovating, and providing more customer-focused offers to retain and grow their customer base.

We’ve put together a list of some of the top game-changing data monetization use cases for ISPs.

A la Carte

Give customers complete control over their data use. Instead of offering massive “all you can eat” plans that drain customers’ wallets and over serve their data appetites, give them an “a la carte” option instead. Customers can choose to only pay for the exact data they use, the specific applications they want to use, the times of day they want to use them, and the speeds they need. By allowing customers to choose what’s best for them, you are ensuring that valuable bandwidth isn’t being wasted on grandma’s emails. With a la carte options, customers have the complete freedom to design, purchase and activate data allowances for their exact needs.

Zero-Rating

Differentiate yourself by offering plans with subscriptions to certain apps or websites that don’t impact the user’s overall data usage. For example, with a monthly 2GB plan, subscribers receive free access for up to 1GB of data for the website or app of their choice. Or, incentivize usage during off-peak times by offering things like free gaming after 10 pm. Form partnerships with apps or websites to provide this service for free, or at a lower cost. This can be a huge incentive for customers to choose you instead of the competitors. Many operators today are buying and building their own content. So, use zero-rating for your own applications and platforms, as a way to incentivize their use.

Turbo Boost

Let customers increase their speed instantly with bandwidth on demand. An increase in speed, or a turbo boost, comes at a small fee when they need the extra bandwidth. This can be a huge benefit for customers who typically subscribe to a lower bandwidth speed, but occasionally need the boost in speed to stream a movie or video chat with their family across the country.

Parental Control

Allow parents to have more control over their children’s internet use. Give parents the ability to restrict certain websites or applications, limit the times of day that child users can be on the internet, and limit the amount of data a child uses.

Happy Hours

Give a usage discount or a speed boost on special days, times or anniversaries. Happy Hours are a great way to incentivize data use during off-peak hours, decreasing the congestion peak times. Or, make customers feel special with a promotion on their birthdays or anniversaries, or on special days or holidays, giving customers a temporary higher bandwidth speed and/or a discount on data usage.

Think you’re ready to take the data monetization plunge and to truly differentiate yourself in the shifting marketplace? Read more about how you can, in the Alepo Solution Brief: Empowering the Internet Service Provider with Alepo Data Monetization!

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

Partner and Sales Director

Ryan is intrigued by where telecommunications will go in the next few years. As a Partner and Sales Director, she’s been exposed to many aspects of the industry in different technologies and markets. When she’s not speaking in telecom acronyms, you can find her traveling the world, skiing the Colorado Rockies or doing DIY projects on her home.

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Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

4th of October 2017

Making calls over WiFi is no new thing to us. It’s hard to even remember the days before online video and chat OTT services like Skype and WhatsApp. However, what was once an experience distinct from cell phone calling, requiring separate software and logins is now becoming integrated into standard cellular service, altering how people make their WiFi calls.

The Early Days of Native VoWiFi

Apple’s iPhone started the change. When FaceTime launched 7 years ago, the shift started to happen almost overnight. Like iMessage, if you were connected to WiFi, you could make FaceTime video and voice calls without using your cellular data or voice plan. The benefit to subscribers was immense, considering most people spend the majority of their time connected to WiFi. The only disadvantage of FaceTime and iMessage? It only worked between Apple devices.

Today’s Native VoWiFi

Fast forward to today. Now, calls can be made over WiFi to any other device, be it another cell phone or a landline, just by calling as you would for any call through the device’s native dialer. What does this mean? Gone are the days of WiFi calling’s dependence on OTT apps or the need to have an Apple device! For operators, instead of a threat, WiFi calling actually presents a unique opportunity for real innovation. Plus, if operators implement VoLTE, this offers users a truly seamless handoff from cellular to WiFi calls, presenting an extra incentive to not use OTT apps, as they can remain mobile, even when calls began over WiFi.

Native WiFi Calling vs OTT WiFi Calling

OTT (over-the-top) VoIP WiFi calling is a cloud-based service that requires a separate client and typically does not allow for mobility. Carrier WiFi calling, on the other hand, is integrated with the mobile carrier’s network, uses the native dialer on the handset, and is generally an extension of the mobile subscription plan, and typically includes a seamless mobile experience.

Native vs OTT WiFi Calling

 Native WiFi CallingOTT WiFi Calling
DescriptionUsers’ devices directly access IMS networks to perform voice services with few changes in the core network. Calls will glide from cellular to WiFi and back again without any interruption in service.This is similar to what Skype calling or a voice call over WhatsApp offers, which works great until you leave the WiFi hotspot. Calls will drop as soon as you are out of WiFi range. It is unavoidable for calls to drop since there is no seamless handoff from cellular to WiFi.
Advantages
  • Unified dialing/message interface. No need to fire up a third party app.

  • Voice service continuity can be achieved utilizing the same phone number (seamless handoff).

  • Same QoS maintained as that in VoLTE.

  • Easy set up on the user’s device (just turn on WiFi calling option).

  • Only IMS network remodeling required.
  • Easy to deploy, no IMS or additional network infrastructure necessary

  • From a user's perspective, all he/she needs to do is download the app, register and it’s ready to go.
Limitations
  • An ePDG needs to be in place.

  • Limited user devices support WiFi calling, currently the latest models of iPhone, Samsung, LG, HTC to name a few (this list is naturally going to get bigger over the time)
  • Not a carrier-class voice solution, thus less reliable.

  • Lack of service support

  • QoS not guaranteed (no ownership of customer experience).

  • No general and regulatory services provided. (i.e. Emergency calls).

  • No standards defined.

Native WiFi Calling Benefits

Overall, native WiFi calling can be a win-win solution for both subscribers and operators. According to an Ericsson Consumer Lab study1, the key reasons users are interested in native WiFi calling are those shown in the chart below. Users value the fact that they do not need to download any extra apps or perform any additional logins. They also appreciate that their VoLTE calls get seamlessly handed over once they come in the range of WiFi, and vice versa. But, the bigger drivers are extended coverage and eliminated roaming charges. Gone are the days of going out on the back patio to get a better signal because the inside of your house is a dead zone. Or avoiding calls while traveling abroad for fear of the massive roaming charges you might rack up.  For carriers, these subscriber benefits correspond with distinct business gains, such as reduced CAPEX and OPEX, new revenue streams, competitive advantage, improved customer experience, increased international service, improved quality of experience, and first-mover advantage.

Voip wifi calling

Conclusion: Watch Your Back, OTT!

With all the benefits of native WiFi calling, it’s easy to see why OTT apps are losing their stronghold on the WiFi calling market. It will be interesting to see how the OTT market changes over the next few years to try to remain competitive and relevant!

Learn more about WiFi calling with Alepo’s white paper.

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

Partner and Sales Director

Ryan is intrigued by where telecommunications will go in the next few years. As a Partner and Sales Director, she’s been exposed to many aspects of the industry in different technologies and markets. When she’s not speaking in telecom acronyms, you can find her traveling the world, skiing the Colorado Rockies or doing DIY projects on her home.

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WiFi Calling vs. WiFi Offload

WiFi Calling vs. WiFi Offload

WiFi Calling vs. WiFi Offload

    20th of September 2017        

While on a call the other day, it occurred to me that even highly knowledgeable people in the telecommunications industry have a difficult time deciphering the differences between WiFi calling and WiFi offload. The two types of technology are both constantly talked about, and often in relation with one another, but somewhere along the way, the defining line of what distinguishes them has become blurred. I’ll try to clear up this confusion so that you can make clearer decisions when the time comes for you to consider WiFi strategies. To start, let’s explore WiFi Offload…

The (Abbreviated) Origins of WiFi Offload

Years ago, the industry was hit with a pair of realizations: 1) the current cellular infrastructure wasn’t going to be able to handle rapidly growing data usage and 2) WiFi is a much cheaper and easier network to build than cellular. So, the solution of utilizing WiFi to handle cellular traffic was born.

So, Just What is WiFi Offload?

Getting slightly technical, WiFi Offload uses EAP-SIM/AKA technology, to automatically “offload” cellular users onto a recognized WiFi network as soon as they come in the range of the hotspot. Offload is as straightforward as it sounds. The EAP-SIM/AKA authentication compares the SIM information in a user’s phone to the information in the mobile provider’s home subscriber server (HSS). If the SIM credentials match, it kicks a user off of the cellular network and puts them on the WiFi network, without any action from the end user. The experience is seamless for the user and they shouldn’t even notice that their phone has been offloaded onto WiFi. This is similar to the way that your phone automatically connects when you come within range of your home WiFi. The difference is that the user is automatically offloaded onto hotspots they have never connected with before, and there is no need to enter a password or key.

Why Mobile Network Operators are Interested

Offload helps operators ease network congestion and improve the quality of service their customers receive in high-density areas. Often, operators will put hotspots in crowded public locations, like a stadium or downtown area, where network congestion is high. Operators can also “expand” their network coverage, installing hotspots in areas with poor cellular coverage, instead of installing a microcell. The main benefit here? WiFi is MUCH cheaper.

If those benefits weren’t enough, operators can form partnerships with other businesses/ISPs/MNOs in the area, or worldwide, to let their subscribers automatically offload onto the business/ISP/MNO WiFi networks as well. The advantage here is that operators can expand their network without making any investment in hardware. Plus, they can gain revenue by letting other operators’ customers roam onto their WiFi network.

Depending on their business model, operators utilizing WiFi offload can either continue to charge customers at the same rate they would for cellular data or provide WiFi access free of charge. Regardless of charging models, operators and customers gain significantly from utilizing WiFi Offload.

Operator Gains:

  1. Free up space on the cellular network, especially useful in high density/congested areas
  2. Provide a higher-quality of service (QoS) to all users
  3. Form partnerships to expand their network coverage without investing a dime in hardware

Customer Benefits:

  1. Save cellular data if their operator doesn’t charge them for the WiFi use
  2. A boost in QoS makes streaming movies and video chatting much better, and customers won’t experience the frustration of not being able to send a Snapchat or post to Instagram when they’re at the biggest football match of the season.
  3. Say goodbye to dead zones! Customers will love the increase in coverage locally and/or worldwide.

So, What’s WiFi Calling?

WiFi calling is related to offload, but not quite the same. So, now you have a network of WiFi hotspots around the city, and you are offloading users onto it. Great! Now the issue is, how will a user choose to make a call?

The Rise of OTT Apps

Traditional mobile phones could only make calls on voice networks (2G and 3G). To fill this void, OTT apps like Skype and Whatsapp hit the market with high-quality calling and messaging enabled over any data connection, LTE or WiFi. Operators then started to see a huge decline in the revenue they used to get from voice calling and text messaging. Users realized that they could save their minutes and messages by simply calling and messaging with their OTT apps. Operators were forced to focus on data as their key service offering. Finally, voice over LTE (VoLTE) was introduced and calls could be made over a data connection. But, calls still couldn’t be made on WiFi. But it was only a matter of time. Today, all new phones hitting the market are WiFi calling enabled too, meaning a user can make a call on WiFi with their phone, without using an OTT app. This is often referred to as VoWiFi. But, native VoWiFi calls (not through an OTT app) will not work on a WiFi calling enabled smartphone unless the operator makes the required changes in their network. This is what a WiFi calling solution provides. So, until the operator changes out their network, their users will have to use an OTT app to make VoWiFi calls.

The Fall of OTT Apps

The time has finally come for operators to take back what they have lost from OTT apps. When an operator has a network that supports both VoLTE and VoWiFi, they can provide a seamless experience to their users. So, when a user is on a WiFi call and they move out of range of the WiFi hotspot, the call is seamlessly connected to the LTE signal and the call can continue uninterrupted, and vice versa if they come back into range of a hotspot. Because all new handsets are WiFi calling enabled, this functionality is going to become progressively important as calls are increasingly made on a WiFi or VoLTE connection, as opposed to the traditional voice networks. The fact that operators are already decommissioning their 2G and 3G networks is an indication that all calls in the future will be on LTE data, which is going to increase the need for seamless VoLTE to VoWiFi calling.

Why Mobile Network Operators are Interested

The key benefits of WiFi calling for operators:

  1. Combat OTT apps and gain back lost revenue
  2. Provide a better, controlled QoS compared to OTT apps
  3. Provide benefits to subscribers. Happy subscribers = loyal subscribers!

The key benefits of WiFi calling for users:

  1. Simplicity! No need for an app. Just call straight from your phone’s native dialer.
  2. Calling over WiFi doesn’t use up talk time minutes
  3. WiFi calls don’t waste LTE data!
  4. WiFi often has a much higher-quality and a clearer sound

Conclusion

So, while WiFi Offload and WiFi calling are distinct, they both provide benefits to operators willing to shift their network to support calling over WiFi. While offload is designed as a dynamic solution to congestion and limited coverage, WiFi calling provides an opportunity for customers to originate calls over WiFi, not just get offloaded when the cellular network falls short. This gives customers and operators the opportunity to preserve cellular network integrity, and offer higher-quality calls at a lower price. To combat OTT apps and increase customer satisfaction, WiFi Offload and calling present the perfect opportunity to increase revenue and quality of service in a highly competitive market with plateauing or falling profits.

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

Partner and Sales Director

Ryan is intrigued by where telecommunications will go in the next few years. As a Partner and Sales Director, she’s been exposed to many aspects of the industry in different technologies and markets. When she’s not speaking in telecom acronyms, you can find her traveling the world, skiing the Colorado Rockies or doing DIY projects on her home.

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CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

9th of March 2017

As mobile technologies have evolved, so has the telecommunications customer base. While ten years ago, customers were looking for little more than access, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has created new demands and opportunities that expand the role of the service provider.

Simple one-fits-all service worked in the past, but as technology has evolved, so have customer needs and expectations. A recent IBM study on Generation Z showed that 75 percent of respondents picked a mobile phone or smartphone as their device of choice, and 47 percent said they use their smartphones when shopping in a store. Further, prior to making any purchasing decisions, Generation Z uses their phones to research products and services to compare prices and discounts.

So, as technologies and consumers evolve, CSPs can find themselves left behind, crippled by their legacy systems into offering impersonal plans, leaving current and potential customers unsatisfied.

It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that CSPs should strongly consider transforming into DSPs (Digital Service Providers). What distinguishes DSPs is precisely this fine-grained service, and ability to bundle several offerings, such as broadband access, content, and mobile apps.

A DSP is a service provider which has evolved from offering just the core telecom services, to providing broadband access, content, services and mobile apps to its customers.

While this evolution can be challenging, it is a necessity for providers who wish to remain competitive. In order to fully monetize their networks, it is imperative that they offer bundled and nuanced plans to a customer base ready to pay for these features.

But what exactly does it take to transform from a CSP to DSP?

How to evolve from a CSP to a DSP?

Becoming a DSP is about becoming more responsive and adaptable to consumers’ wants and needs around mobile data services. A stellar customer experience – complete with personalized and contextual mobile data offers, real-time usage alerts, unique roaming offers, and everything digital – is central to being successful as a DSP.

The core ingredients of a successful DSP:

  • Subscriber Segmentation Capabilities: A CSP needs to have granular segmentation capabilities based on parameters such as location, age, gender, consumption, device type, and many more. Mobile data needs for each subscriber varies greatly and requires this segmentation for smart offers that increase ARPU. A recent study by The Manifest reveals that of the 511 smartphone users surveyed, almost 40 percent use social media apps frequently – almost four times more than any gaming, communication or messaging apps. However, if we were to consider another context – enterprise customers – we’d find that their aim is to limit their employees’ use on certain social websites while at work and instead promote other services. To cater to these two different segments, an operator must create a customized offer for each.
  • Rich Contextual Data Offer Creation:  CSPs should be able to create offers based on multiple parameters: QoS, apps and content, time, device type, data usage, and subscriber profile, as well as network-centric parameters like congestion, access network, and location.
  • Sponsored Apps and Offers: CSPs can partner with other ecosystem players, like OTT apps or digital services, to offer special promotions or plans that are subsidized by the partner. For example, an operator may offer a plan where video streaming is free from one of their local video partners, to drive consumption of that content.
  • CSPs Own App: A lot of CSPs are choosing this option and urging users to install their native app. Using the app, subscribers can instantly purchase a data pass, or even create their own, based on how much data and validity they want to buy. In addition, users can subscribe to personalized data usage alerts. Subscribers can also elect to set their own bandwidth speeds for data, to manage and even “stretch” their usage.

The transformation of a CSP into a DSP is indeed disruptive, but it is the need of the hour. CSPs need to evolve their legacy systems, molding their business models to stay relevant and profitable in the market.

In the coming times, consumers and their needs will be the driving force of the market. CSPs need to understand this and create valuable offerings and business processes that put consumers at the center. CSPs need to plan ahead of the changing market requirements to beat the curve and relevant to their customers at all times.

Click here to read how Green Com modernizes its mobile network with an Alepo BSS Transformation solution, resulting in 10% higher revenues within just two months of deployment.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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6 Ways to Monetize Free WiFi Using a Captive Portal

6 Ways to Monetize Free WiFi Using a Captive Portal

6 Ways to Monetize Free WiFi Using a Captive Portal

17th of January 2017

In recent years, WiFi has evolved from a luxury to a basic necessity. This change is driven by the following ingredients of success—it is free (most of the time), it is widely available, and it connects us to the world. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that WiFi should now be included in the bottom layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, right next to food, water, and shelter.

For service providers, this proliferation has been a bitter-sweet experience. On one hand, WiFi provides a means to ease network congestion caused by heavy data users (or as it is commonly called, WiFi offload). On the other hand, it becomes difficult to attach a monetary value to this widely-available benefit. As a CSP, you have to not only maintain QoE for your users but also compete for market share against unsecured public WiFi and other low-cost service providers. To top it off, most people expect WiFi to be a free service. This leaves very few methods to monetize WiFi, making it difficult to incorporate into your business strategy.

To combat the monetization challenge, one of the most underrated but reliable solutions is the WiFi captive portal. The captive portal is the face of your brand, interacting with your customers before they authenticate and connect. It’s not just a tactical pit-stop in the WiFi service route, but also a window of opportunity. All you have to do is think of the possibilities beyond free WiFi.

Here are 6 ways to make the best use of a captive portal in a way that both captivates customers’ attention and achieves business excellence, at no cost to the end user.

6 Ways to Monetize Free WiFi Using a Captive Portal

Fill out a survey

Surveys are a great way to collect user data, like email addresses, as well as a way to solicit feedback related to their experience with your brand. Through a captive portal, you can gather required data to drive email marketing campaigns and derive value from the survey results.

Verify SMS to connect

Asking for a user’s phone number gives you one more way to capitalize on your free WiFi hotspot access. You get verified phone numbers of prospects which can be fed into your marketing pipeline to develop them into customers.

Advertisements

Most users are willing to see an advertisement in exchange for free WiFi access. By putting advertisements in the form of banners and other static ads on the captive portal, the user must view these before they can gain access to WiFi. By showcasing your own brand’s ads, you can boost brand knowledge and support. Or, you can monetize by charging a per view fee for other companies’ advertisements.

Video Advertisements

Video advertisements take monetizing on ad revenue to another level, yielding a much higher per-view rate. Requiring users to watch a 20 second video ad, before they can access WiFi, stimulates user engagement and can generate higher ad revenue.

Capture data using social login

For almost all mobile apps, social sign-on is a norm these days. It has become a habit for the customer and you can exploit this to gain access to some useful data about the user. Later, you can use this data to run analytics and targeted campaigns targeting any particular segment.

Connect with an existing account

Whether you are an internet service provider or a mobile network operator running a WiFi network, you can allow your existing customers to log into your public WiFi hotspot network with the same credentials they use for their home broadband connection or mobile account. Easy WiFi access = happy customers = loyal customers!

The WiFi Captive Portal is not just powerful and appealing, it is also quite simple to createAlepo WiFi Service Management Platform (SMP) can help you design a captive portal that works best for you with our modular, highly scalable platform, which has proven IOTs with many top vendors. The Alepo WiFi SMP is the best option to get your WiFi services up and running in minutes while adding value to your brand.

Learn more about the Alepo WiFi Service Management Platform

Shaileja Pagare

Shaileja Pagare

Product Marketing Manager

An avid reader and a technology enthusiast who likes to keep up with wireless industry trends. She’s a music lover, a traveler and believes in living life to the fullest.

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