While large carriers are making acquisitions to accommodate growth there are other alternatives to doing so; in fact, most carriers use a variety of methods to optimise bandwidth.
Key to success is ensuring Quality of Service, i.e. getting the right amount of bandwidth to the users who need it, when they need it. Advanced policy control is crucial to Quality of Service – especially in emerging markets – so operators can maximise utilisation of the core network and Internet backhaul, which often is costly satellite links. Time-of-day and time-of-week scheduling of bandwidth allocation allows for maximum bandwidth availability for businesses during the day and shifting to residential users in the evening. This optimises utilisation of the core network and Internet backhaul. Operators should monitor user access closely to ensure bandwidth is reaching the right audiences at the right times.
3G Data Offloading
Mobile operators are looking to add more capacity in an affordable way with data offloading from their congested 3G data networks onto their own and/or partners’ Wi-Fi networks. Mobile Data Offloading has become a top priority for mobile operators; we can see that in the numerous projects in which we are currently involved.
Mobile data offloading must be seamless, and it needs to be seamless in two dimensions – seamless for the user and seamless for the operator. Most smartphones will automatically select the Wi-Fi network when it is in range. In order to provide a seamless user experience the login procedure must be automated using the same authentication methods for Wi-Fi as in the 3G network.
In order to be seamless also for the operator, the Wi-Fi services should ideally be defined in the mobile operator’s core allowing the same policy and charging mechanisms, both for Wi-Fi and 3G. This requires smart solutions on the Wi-Fi side integrating with the mobile core.
Managing Bandwidth to Retain Customers
Managing user services has become the number one way to build market leadership. Great service – meaning fast data speeds, an uncongested network and simplified billing processes – leads to customer loyalty, which in the long run outlasts a rush to gobble up as many subs as quickly as possible.
The good news for subscribers – consumers, businesses buying service wholesale, et al – is that carriers are now turning their attention to the quality of the service: what you get, availability, speed, etc.
In the “old days” success was based on subscriber numbers and value-added services. Today that is shifting. A wireless service must be easy to use, with consistently high availability, fast speeds, et al, to be successful. It is this ability to manage users and user services – in essence, to deliver great communications service – that is fast becoming the driver of the market. For mobile operators, long-term growth and overall success will only be achieved by delivering a great user experience.