Mobile billing and pricing policy for carriers

Photocredit: Carlos Porto

Most of us are familiar with tiered pricing plans for cell-phone service—the type of basic plan that offers a selection of data plans based on usage, where overage fees apply for over-quota usage. These plans offer only a meager selection to consumers, and only limited profitability for carriers, who are under intense pressure to lower costs. The plans are also unsatisfying to users, strapping them with shocking bills when they go over their quota of minutes or texts, or limiting their usage to a narrow band of off-peak times. More creative pricing plans are now coming to fruition with carriers around the globe, with benefits for both carriers and users.

At the FierceLive webinar on Dec. 14, entitled “Managing the unmanageable: monetizing and controlling OTT applications,” co-hosts Allot Communications (Woburn, MA) and Openet (West Dublin, Ireland) described a joint solution that enables operators to improve the monetization of over-the-top (OTT) applications. An OTT app is video content delivered over the public Internet, unassociated with a carrier’s video service (see more about OTT in this article). Netflix On Demand and Hulu are OTT apps, and they are the bane of subscription television companies.

The joint policy-management solution integrates Allot’s service gateway, which offers policy and charging enforcement, with Openet’s policy manager, which manages policy and charging rules. The integrated solution, based on 3GPP Policy and Charging Control (PCC) standards and policy-enforcement standards for mobile networks, is scalable to fit any network. At the heart of policy control and charging, dynamic actionable recognition technology (DART) is used to correctly identify and classify applications like Facebook, Skype, or YouTube. The traffic is then handled and directed from the different apps through the network.

YouTube alone accounts for approximately 10% to 20% of the video-streaming demand. Jonathan Gordon, marketing director at Allot Communications, described how the new charging model, called split billing, might work. “The first 15 minutes of a movie is streamed for free. If user doesn’t buy the movie, the content provider is billed for the 15 minutes of network consumption. If the user buys the movie, revenue is shared between operator and content provider. The charges are split between multiple sources. The joint solution optimizes infrastructure, offers effective revenue generation, and answers subscriber needs for personalized packages. There’s a lot of potential for these types of arrangements to become much more popular.”

“There’s quite a good opportunity here,” added Jonathan Downey, director of product marketing at Openet. “New charging models can really change the potential for revenues, and can help users get to the type of content they want.” Find out more about the partnership in the press release.

View the entire webcast here.

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