Mobile broadband deployments are picking up momentum, driven by the ever growing user demand on data usage as we continue to move to a mobile lifestyle. With downward pricing pressure on traditional services and substitution from over-the-top applications, along with significant investment in moving to mobile broadband, managed services provide opportunities for mobile service providers to capture value and growth.

When looking at leveraging their core in communications infrastructure and subscriber relationship, more mobile operators are looking into new models – business, infrastructure, service delivery, operations – to deliver on the promise of mobile broadband. From personalised data plans, content services, to integrated M2M vertical M2M applications, mobile banking, and more, options are being explored.

Regardless of their approaches, all mobile service providers are looking for sustainable competitive advantages built on a solid yet agile core, ready to support emerging applications and ecosystem players. Given the expected impact of mobile broadband – a game changing market transition – winning will require a different look at three crucial business areas: monetising on innovation, delivering the right customer experience, and ultimately driving profitability.

The one thing all these areas have in common is the need for innovative operator infrastructure implementations, within and across operator networks, to deliver on the promise. Managed infrastructure services from specialist enablers are one option to explore to accomplish the necessary innovation.

Monetising on innovation

Revenue from mobile data has started to surpass voice revenue for many mobile operators. With more over-the-top (OTT) applications drive substitution for revenue-generating services such as voice and SMS, and insatiable user demands for data, a strong push for new and sustainable revenue streams is underway.

For new revenue sources, more operators are creating bundled, vertical-specific services with other ecosystem players (e.g., content, gaming, texting). Many are doing away with flat-rate data charging models and tapping into the monetisation potential of the data network with differentiated data service packages, powered by policy management and quality service delivery.

From tiered services to one-time premium content delivery, or corporate/parental control to video optimisation, policy-based data packages allow operators to charge subscribers for what they need, while optimising the usage of scarce data network resource. Although policy management is a complex and costly undertaking, a new hosted cloud-delivery managed service model enables mobile operators to reap its benefits with lowered risks and costs.

The foundation to accelerating speed to new services, bundled or data only, is a flexible network infrastructure that can support multiple services and accommodate varying application requirements, from real-time multi-player gaming to secure banking transactions. Networks need to work harder.

Gone are the days where a network is optimised for one single service. A smart network must be optimised and monetised based on the value it delivers as a source of competitiveness. This is true not only for operator’s own home network, but also for the network connecting service providers, including network, application and content providers, for end-to-end inter-provider service delivery.

Creating happy customers

Superior user experience is a key differentiator in this fiercely competitive market. Uncovering user data consumption patterns, through traffic tracking and analytics, is the first step to create attractive service packages that meet user needs, increase loyalty and add new revenue streams. For example, data service packages enabled by policy management, including QoS-enabled premium content delivery, give customers value-added features on-demand while capturing more value for service providers. Managed infrastructure services can help speed these capabilities.

Customer expectations of an always-on connectivity, regardless of application and location, requires critical applications such as roaming and interactive rich media applications to be supported by the right service and network infrastructure, designed with high availability, differentiated quality of service support and security, along with 24×7 operations with proactive monitoring and reporting.

Similarly, as services are delivered across 2G, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi networks, service continuity is important to deliver on the user expectation to access same services. For example, traditional voice and SMS messages must appear the same whether delivered on circuit or IP networks, whether on the operator’s home network or roaming into a visited network. The implementations of new infrastructure technologies such as LTE, Diameter, IMS, and IPX must transparently interwork with earlier technologies.

User demand for the ability to connect with other users via any service regardless of the serving networks drives the need for service providers to create robust local, regional and global communities. More are turning to community solution implementations from managed service providers to simplify complex bilateral interconnects, expand service reach across operator interconnections, and provide seamless user experience across voice, messaging, data, roaming and video regardless of location.

Drive profitability

The final essential focus area is to drive profitability. Customers want more from their service providers in an environment where competition is high from other players in the ecosystem. Operators are increasingly looking to reduce complexity and costs through managed services that give them an infrastructure that is flexible and future-ready and enables them to offer new services quickly and cost-effectively. Having a strategic partner that has access to, or has developed, a diverse connected service provider community, also helps operators interconnect with others in the ecosystem faster and cheaper than the alternative.

Managed services are increasingly seen as a viable alternative to in-house solutions because they allow operators to address these three key business areas. Today many mobile network operators are using managed service to simplify bilateral complexity and provide managed service interconnects for data, voice, messaging, roaming and other service delivery as well as for driving operational efficiency.

The game changer

Mobile broadband is a game changing force in the industry. Managed services represent a significant opportunity for mobile service provider to innovatively monetise services to grow new top line revenue, to deliver quality user experience to retain and grow wallet share and to drive profitability with efficiency gains for service delivery and operations.