Having recently gone live across 11 major cities in the UK, 4G has not been without its fair share of both criticism and praise. 4G undoubtedly brings with it the promise of increased demand for faster downloads and seamless streaming services, but that’s kind of missing the point. What are the factors that operators need to consider in order to actually build the right propositions and deliver them smoothly? What could operators have learnt from the previous move from 2.5G to 3G, and are these factors still relevant for 4G today?
With Everything Everywhere’s competitors getting ready to launch their respective 4G services, this is a crucial time for operators to both validate and scrutinize their plans. US 4G providers have met criticism since their launch in 2011 with customer backlash around quality of service (QoS) and value for money as well as clarity of market proposition. It is imperative that UK operators learn from the mistakes made by others before them to offer a service that offers genuine value, to a clearly defined set of market segments across the enterprise and consumer customer base.
Given the relatively higher prices associated with 4G, it’s not only essential that UK operators actually provide a high QoS, but also provide very smart and transparent service propositions. These will be subject to precise messaging and marketing that speaks the language of the brand values that operators are aspiring to become in the next five years. Targeting, positioning and messaging in the value proposition creation process all need to be matched by the service offerings themselves.
In the back-office (and central to this), is the deployment of integrated analytics to track against the user’s service level agreement (SLA) from the business segment perspective, or brand promise as a consumer. It is essential that there is a complete and unified flow of information throughout the back office to assure service quality and increase accuracy and efficiency for end users. If you’ve got a bigger pipe, with more services flowing through it, faster, there is more ‘flight risk’ that something could go wrong. By integrating analytics as part of the BSS billing estate, operators can measure and assure 4G services and derive greater insight from the data flowing across revenue management systems. In times of hard spending, it is more important than ever that there is service assurance across the chain to ensure a great customer brand experience.
CSPs have time to get it right, as businesses and consumers might not be migrating to 4G immediately. As we see with most technological innovations, it’s the high-earning ‘prosumers’ or, in this case, consumers with high bandwidth requirements that are likely to be early adopters in comparison to businesses. However, if CSPs are able to demonstrate a strong QoS-led approach backed up with very clear and compelling propositions, the potential for business and enterprise adoption could be extremely lucrative.
Critical to the back-office success of billing for 4G is the need for integrated revenue and customer management, supported with analytics that underpins compelling market propositions and strong brand values. Make the services easy to buy and funnily enough they become easy to sell. What a coincidence that is.