It’s remarkable how well mobile operators navigated the challenge of massive growth in mobile data consumption. For a mammoth industry—oft criticized for slow movement—things moved extremely fast over the last two years. The big shift to shared data plans drove alignment of data growth with revenue growth, while the technology transition to LTE helped improve the experience and allow faster data consumption at lower operating cost.
It now seems clear that shared data plans have changed users’ mindsets around paying for and using mobile data. People use a lot more data than before and appear happy to pay for it. Thinner tiers and usage spread across family members (and friends) take the sting out of exceeding monthly allocation. Plus, it’s easy to add another device and to get more value and convenience from the service. All in all, it’s a remarkable transition to better monetize the mobile data experience. Presto! Crisis averted!
As Devicescape’s customer base has gone through this transition, we’ve measured a fascinating additional fact: people are using a lot more mobile data but they’re also using a lot more Wi-Fi. In fact, LTE has doubled consumption over 3G, and Wi-Fi use has kept in lockstep and doubled, too. Given the fact that Wi-Fi is two-thirds of the total data experience, the reality is that Wi-Fi consumption exploded over this period. Clearly there is a hunger for data that extends well beyond the mobile data network and—when it comes right down to it—data use inspires more data use.
This is a curious situation. Mobile operators have concentrated on the mobile data experience despite the fact their customers are receiving service from both Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Growth in Wi-Fi usage can be thought of as stimulating growth in mobile usage, and vice-versa. And yet, most operators take no responsibility for Wi-Fi; it’s left up to the user. There is no operator control, no attribution, no assistance. While operators monetize the mobile network directly through data plans, and indirectly through analytics and user behavior, there is no monetization of Wi-Fi.
With this in mind, Devicescape’s mission is ever more relevant. Devicescape helps mobile operators monetize the entire data experience, meaning both the mobile network and all different types of Wi-Fi networks. We do that in three ways. The first is by bringing our curated virtual network (CVN) to the operator as virtual carrier Wi-Fi. The second is by providing an always best connected (ABC) experience for the user—leveraging the CVN—to give the user more places to consume data faster. These two combine to increase data usage and drive monetization directly. Finally, through OTT analytics and reporting, we extend visibility on user and network behavior to all types of Wi-Fi, enabling intelligence and indirect monetization of Wi-Fi in the same manner as the mobile network.
Wi-Fi is already a dominant portion of the service experience and operators should extend monetization to it. It’s a massive step to the two-thirds of the experience that is invisible today and a tremendous ARPU generator. Increasingly we believe that an integrated approach to service will be a requirement, not only to improve the experience, but to manage new types of competition. Presto! New opportunities abound!