Posted on January 25, 2011 | Leave a comment | Share this article

Taking a Hybrid Approach to Data

This week, we address the second issue in our blog series "Birdstep´s Top Ten Relievers for Mobile Operators." We're examining how operators can avoid enforcing data caps and save OpEx (see post: Getting Costs Under Control) by off-loading mobile data traffic to nearby networks.


To Cap or Not To Cap?
From the much-heralded "all you can eat" mobile broadband subscriptions launched a few years ago, operators have had to face the humiliation and bad press of enforcing monthly volume caps on mobile broadband subscriptions. Such moves have created bad blood between some operators and their most active users.


T-Mobile UK had to back down from a decision to cap Android mobile broadband packages at 500 MB in the face of massively negative customer reaction (See http :// www . mobilebusinessbriefing . com / article / the - mobile - industry - s - big - irony). A recent study by Devicescape shows that 80 percent of mobile subscribers would consider switching service providers if their current plan was data-capped.


With mobile data growing 39 fold from 2009 to 2014 (Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data, Traffic Forecast Update, 2009-2014, Cisco 2010), mobile data revenues are predicted to only grow by some 40 percent and 55 percent in Western Europe and North America respectively. (ABI Research report "Mobile Data Usage Grows Exponentially but Data Revenue Lags", 2010) The books simply don't balance. So how can offloading help?


Going Hybrid
By off-loading mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi (especially inside buildings), femtocells or 4G networks can provide operators with an alternative to enforcing unpopular caps on user data consumption. It can also save costs of up to 25 percent per annum over a 3-year period. For operators such as Virgin, Meteor, TDC, CellC, KPN and Elisa, who use off-load services from Birdstep, a hybrid solution for data delivery to customers makes perfect sense.


The solution looks simple, and it has to be. It also must be fully automated to keep costs down.  Birdstep's fully automated network switching, silent credentials provisioning and logins have proven to be excellent in ensuring a good customer experience. By helping out with "invisible" logins and automated transfer between different networks, the operators can make sure their users are always connected to the network where they have the lowest production cost for mobile data. In addition, the user will always have the best available service without dealing with complex settings or network prioritizations.


Some operators want to take the off-load solution one step further to assure on-the-move handover to and from Wi-Fi can happen with no impact to ongoing VoIP and VPN sessions. The Birdstep Mobile IP solution makes this seamless mobility a reality, allowing the operator to facilitate Wi-Fi offload without the user noticing.


Interested in further discussions with us? Please send us an email to or visit our Mobile World Congress site to set up a meeting in Barcelona February  14-17

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