Monday, February 8, 2010

Mobile Broadband Will Need a New Business Model

One way or the other, something has got to change in the mobile business as voice ceases to be the industry revenue driver. Today mobile service providers get 86 percent of their revenue from low-bandwidth applications like voice and text. But that will keep changing in predictable ways.

Namely, most capacity requirements will be driven by low-margin data rather than high-margin voice and text.  Over the long term, it is irrational to better price services in relationship to cost without attributing more revenue directly to the data services that are driving capital investment.

That doesn't mean every single service or application necessarily has to be priced in relationship to cost. Loss leaders at supermarkets, promotional DVD prices at Target and other promotional pricing happens all the time, in every business. Some products have high margin, others low or even negative margins.

The point is that current retail pricing will get more irrational as data demand grows, and that something will have to be done about it.

Carriers are investing in new capacity, but that alone will not be enough to bring revenue and capacity into balance. By 2013, virtually all traffic load will be driven by broadband data of one sort or another, especially video. That means, over time, new ways of charging for network usage will have to be created.

Like it or not, network management is going to be necessary, plus traffic offload and policy management. The issue, in part, is that demand is unevenly distributed. Even at peak hours of congestion, only a minor percentage of cell sites actually account for most of the congestion. To speak of congestion management at the "whole network" level is not to capture the issue.

The key issue is peak-hour congestion at perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent of sites. Put another way, even at peak congestion, 85 to 90 percent of sites do not experience difficulty. That means it might be necessary to use different policies at a small number of physical sites, not the entire network, even at peak hours.

So even if traffic shaping, bit priority policies and other tools are not generally required at every site, for every application or user, there will be a need to do so at some sites, some of the time.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

Good post very interesting

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