Operators in emerging markets feel network pressure

Operators from emerging markets are boosting their mobile networks to handle growing traffic from smartphones and mobile broadband devices, but an industry observer says they ought to relook their current business strategies to stay relevant.

Arun Bansal, Ericsson head of Southeast Asia and Oceania, told ZDNet Asia that the region has seen an inflow of smartphones and mobile information growth, driving operators expand their mobile networks in terms of coverage and capacity.

In a separate interview, David Chambers, Amdocs’ product promotion manager, concurred that the growth of mobile broadband is putting a strain on operators’ network.

However, despite the rush to boost their 3G infrastructure, Chambers said it is not technically feasible for operators to build out capacity quick to meet forecasted demand.

They noted that these service providers are in lieu taking a look at Wi-Fi or femtocells to help offload information traffic, pointing to China Mobile’s designs to deploy one million WiFi hotspots as an example.

Customer experience a differentiator
According to Chambers, customer experience will play a huge role in boosting an operator’s competitive edge. They explained that operators historicallyin the past focused on selling the latest smartphones in the market because consumers’ choice of a mobile operator was “90 percent based on the tool and ten percent on networks”, they said.

This scenario will alter, said Chambers, as users will increasingly pick their operator based on the quality of its networks. “Unless you are with the right network, [having the phone is] less useful,” they added.

They also pushed for operators to offer tiered information designs in lieu of limitless information designs since they will need to be definite their networks can cater to lots that cannot be determined. Contrary to consumer belief that limitless information designs are better, they said customers will appreciate charges that are “more directly related to what they think they ought to pay for” in lieu of paying a higher premium for limitless information designs.

In lieu of offering a general billing technique, operators ought to also provide ways for customers to check in real-time how much information they are using, they said, noting that operators ought to cap customers’ information traffic when they reach the information limit in lieu of abruptly cutting them off.