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Introduction of data plans at the right price and packaging key to growth

Nitin Arora
Managing Director of India and South Asia, Tekelec
  TT Correspondent |  | 19/09/2012

“With the Indian telecom sector witnessing a boom, and the market largely focused on the mobile data explosion, operators are facing some challenges in boosting revenues. In an interaction with TelecomTiger, Nitin Arora, Managing Director of India and South Asia at Tekelec, explains how mobile broadband solutions can help”


Following are excerpts from the interview:




Q. Indian telecom sector is witnessing tremendous growth with broadband solutions being the key. How do you look at it? 


A. In India, mindset and technology are, indeed, evolving very rapidly. However, there are socio-economic considerations that cannot be taken for granted. On the one hand, 4G reveals many opportunities in India, where half of its 1.22 billion people are 25 years or younger. That demographic tends to be very social and mobile; as well as increasingly engaged in social media, movies, gaming and sports. All of these open the door to new revenue streams for Indian operators. On the opposite hand, however, many people in this age group have very little discretionary income; so upward trends in employment and average income will determine how rapidly LTE/ 3G services are adopted. In parallel, introduction of data plans at the right price and packaging will be key to stimulate the growth.


Slow data-consumption growth thus far will inevitably pick up with 3G; now that almost all Indian operators are slashing 3G prices to whet India’s appetite for data services. Some of these operators have cut their prices as much as 70 percent; which will further entice people to try data services. In addition to cutting service prices, operators in India need to launch customer segment-oriented and lifestyle-based differentiated market plans. They also need to link the data plans to the unique aspects of each customer segment. In fact, they could think of following China’s lead as far as subsidizing handsets is concerned (though it poses different challenges). Also tremendous data growth is expected in sectors like Enterprise, Health care, Education, Public, Utility, etc.



Q. With telecom market largely focused on mobile data explosion, what is the key to deliver highly personalized data services and manage this explosive growth? 


A. Highly personalized services will require unprecedented levels of management and orchestration among literally billions of “moving parts:” devices, appliances, automobiles, networks and pieces of cellular and fixed infrastructure that must communicate. To do so effectively, there must be a “conductor” that choreographs the communication among all these pieces with a common language. The Diameter protocol is that language. Its evolution is focused on helping mobile operators support collaborative business models. Diameter facilitates“opt-in” rules, shared data plans, quota management and other elements of personalization.


While Diameter is well known as a router, controller, protocol converter or agent, it is now going to become increasingly important for highly personalized data services, especially in the context of the New Diameter Network (NDN), with network elements like policy, charging and Diameter signaling routers being the foundation for personalization. Diameter will be leveraged for much more in the NDN; because service and network control elements will all rely on the protocol to constantly communicate in what is going to be an “always-on” world of services. That means Diameter will foster the constant pinging and communication among policy servers, gateways, charging systems, mobility and session management and subscriber databases. 



Q. What are the challenges that service providers may face in transition from network providers to digital lifestyle providers and they could be overcome? 


A. One of the biggest challenges in the digital ecosystem will be to figure out where “telecoms” fit in the business models of tomorrow. Where operators used to call the shots, they will fill a different rolein the digital ecosystem.


Operators have a huge opportunity to open up the expertise and systems they have built up over the years to third parties, like OTT players (Google, Facebook, Flipkart, Quickr, online portals from movie booking/ flight reservation/ restaurant bookings, etc). They can monetize the service level agreement (SLA)- and quality of service (QoS)-driven capabilities OTT players would otherwise struggle to create on their own


Service providers should consider how OTT players can create a critical link back to what has become the disintermediated “traditional” customer”, the end consumer of communications and data services.We touch on the topic of nurturing the OTT relationship in a white paper entitled “New Diameter Network: Over-the-Top, Clouds and Machines.“


It will also be important to manage both data congestion and signaling surges created by the “always on” nature of mobile data, video and M2M.While data congestion can be addressed with network build outs, Wi-Fi downloads and various throttling techniques, signaling traffic will require an NDN powered by a Diameter Signaling Router (DSR). They will be important as signaling traffic growth will more than triple mobile data traffic growth through 2016, according to the new Tekelec LTE Diameter SignalingIndex. In that report,Tekelec forecasts that Diameter Messages per Second (MPS) will increase to 47 million Diameter MPS by 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 252 per cent between 2011 and 2016.


Diameter signaling traffic growth will be related to the sophistication of services; which will increasingly rely on policy management rules, governing the subscriber experience, communications among policy servers, charging systems, subscriber databases and gateways, and mobility management functions, including subscriber authentication onto networks and roaming between partner networks.


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