Developing a winning mobile broadband strategy

Telecom Lead India: With consumers demanding access to
more content than ever before, anywhere and anytime, the mobile broadband
market has potential for huge growth. According to analyst house IDC, 916
million connected devices were shipped in 2011 alone, and this is set to double
to 1.84 billion units by 2016. All of these devices will require mobile
broadband access, placing huge demands on an already strained network. Clearly
this creates a number of issues but also generates opportunities. The question
is, are Indian companies ready to take on the mobile broadband challenge?

As per the findings of an Analysys Mason report, by
allotting 5MHz of extra 3G spectrum per licensee, India could witness an
increased mobile broadband penetration of an additional 35 percent. This means
that there would be over 160 million 3G users by 2015. A 3.3 percent increase
in national broadband penetration, could mean an INR538 billion increase
in India’s GDP by 2015. A recent Gartner report revealed that the mobile-device
sale in India is estimated to cross 230 million units this year, a strong
8.5-percent annual growth compared to the 213-million-unit sale in 32011.
In 2011, India’s fixed broadband household penetration was 6 percent which is
low when compared to the overall penetration in emerging markets which is
estimated at 16 percent in 2011. As of 2012, there are just over 13 million
broadband subscribers in a country of 1.2 billion people. Due to low Internet
penetration in India, mobile data revenue has tremendous growth opportunities.


With mobile data consumption set to grow tenfold over the
next five years as a result of rich, high-bandwidth app innovations, the
demands on mobile broadband solutions are greater than they have ever been. The
dynamics of the mobile ecosystem are changing to meet these demands, with
application and content providers, mobile operators and handset and equipment
manufacturers required to work closer than ever before. It’s imperative that
mobile network operators develop strategies to manage this huge increase in
data, and enable smart applications to deliver what users require and get a
slice of the growing mobile broadband pie.


The rapid pace at which the telecoms landscape is
evolving means winning the game today requires a change in tactics. To gain
ground, operators need to examine their strategies across all aspects of
business network, service infrastructure, operations and business
arrangements to optimize on three key success levers: efficiency, quality
user experience, and innovation. In short, mobile operators need to solve, in
parallel, how to deliver existing services better with greater efficiency and
build capabilities to quickly enable future services. In addition to tackling
these challenges within their home networks, mobile operators also need to
recognize the importance of interconnection with other operators or content
providers to deliver quality services to users outside of their networks.
Effective interconnection and interworking between service providers, or
breaking down the walled garden, is crucial to accelerating adoption of new
broadband-enabled applications, such as video streaming, conferencing or
multi-user gaming. However, the complexity of interworking multiplies
exponentially with an increase in the number of operators and the number of
real-time services. IPX was developed to facilitate effective inter-provider
network interconnection, but mobile operators need solutions beyond IPX to
tackle the full range of challenges.

So how can operators address the three success levers for
interconnection to drive efficiency, deliver quality experience and monetize
innovation? As users demand more, anywhere, now, and more over-the-top players
enter the marketplace, mobile operators are under even greater pressure to
deliver services more efficiently, while being agile enough to respond to
changing requirements.

At the network level, a key challenge is to manage
service-specific networks while adapting to growing bandwidth demand for each
application. Operators can drive efficiency and improve utilization by
consolidating network infrastructure through shared access for multiple
services over a common IP-based infrastructure. Scale, flexibility, low costs
and multi-service support are required functions for the inter-provider network
as for the core network. For existing services, driving efficiency translates
to consolidating network for shared access, streamlining operations process,
and simplifying interconnect arrangements. For example, access to a leading
on-net mobile service community, as such signaling or video
conferencing, allows operators to connect to a network of providers to expand
coverage without the complexity of managing bilateral arrangements.

Moreover, operators can consider managed services from
experienced third parties. This can further streamline inter-provider
relationships, end-to-end service delivery, and operations. The industry has a
strong track record of leveraging outside expertise and resources to augment
internal capabilities. This managed option is gaining greater acceptance for
inter-provider interconnect functions, such as managed roaming hub, managed
international voice termination, security, and revenue assurance.

Looking forward, operators should ensure that their
service infrastructure can support the evolution of existing services, such as
voice over LTE and LTE roaming, as well as the emergence of bandwidth-intensive
interactive rich media applications. User experience is defined by not only
customer service interactions but also service delivery experience, including
service quality, bandwidth, availability and new service offerings.

By enabling their users to reach extended service
communities through interworking, operators multiply the value delivered. The
service delivery experience can be improved by having the right network
support. Access to multiple service options over a common network allows
operators to select the right transport mechanism, with the right mix of
security and QoS support, to deliver the right customer experience. New services
can be readily deployed without separate network infrastructure to satisfy user
needs with a faster time to market. End-to-end QoS management with application
enablement functions, such as media stream processing and policy management,
enhance the customer experience by enabling rich media applications such as
video and gaming.

Finally, active network and service level monitoring and
reporting allow operators to proactively address service availability and
quality issues that could negatively impact the customer experience.


With significant investment in mobile broadband,
operators are looking for ways to create new revenue streams. A multi-service
IP-based network enables operators to roll out new services faster by reducing
network setup time. Value-added application enablement solutions offer
opportunities to monetize on differentiated user experience across services,
particularly for rich media applications. By allowing application providers to
leverage these application enablement or managed operations capabilities,
operators create win-win scenarios for faster revenue growth.

A new playing field in the mobile broadband arena means
strategic decisions have to be made in order to be a winner. Mobile operators
need to consider network, services, operations, and business components for
mobile broadband inter-provider service delivery and management in order to
drive efficiency, deliver quality user experience and monetise on innovation.
This may seem complex but with the right interconnect infrastructure, smarter
IT decisions and simplified application enablement, it is possible. IPX has
already attracted interest at a first step towards inter-provider connectivity
for rich media applications. With the industry moving at such a rapid pace, I
look forward to the next round of innovative developments.

Allan Chan, president, Global Carrier Solutions, Tata
[email protected]