Feeds

Buying bandwidth in the app store

The search for revenue continues

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Mobile operators are looking at application stores as a way to boost revenue, not by selling applications but by selling the bandwidth needed to use them.

We're going to have to start paying more for mobile data anyway if the operators are to maintain profits and invest in new frequencies and technologies, but operators and infrastructure providers are working hard to find ways of squeezing more money out of customers without pushing up prices - and the application store is the favoured option.

Data makes up the vast majority of the operators' traffic: 94 per cent according to 3, but that traffic accounts for less than 20 per cent of the operators' revenue, more than half of which still comes from punters talking to each other. So operators are desperate to find ways of making users pay more for their bandwidth, but are also terrified of being the first to alienate users with increased prices.

So rather than just charging more the operators are looking to charge us in more interesting ways, such as priority network access or subscriptions to applications, and there's a whole industry coming along to provide just that functionality, along with the standards needed to exploit it.

Billing for mobile data has always been a tricky issue. Early WAP services billed by the page, or even by the minute. These days most operators offer a combination of free access to operator-provided services (game downloads, news, advertising) and a flat-rate price for those wishing to access the rest of the internet - with some sort of cap beyond which users pay extra, or receive a stroppy note suggesting they upgrade.

But already 3UK has moved beyond that model to offer customers on the more expensive tariffs priority access when a cell gets congested. Originally that was going to include limiting YouTube streams to one per (non-premium) customer, but even that got rescinded as the bad publicity built and now it's just BitTorrent users who'll get hit when a cell is congested.

Which seems fair enough - 3 is keen to emphasise that when a cell isn't congested it won't enforce fair-use restrictions, so the swing goes both ways. The idea that those who pay more get a better service is hardly controversial, despite popular opposition.

Volubill, specialists in this kind of variable billing, reckons that 3 will be the first of many. The company has 10 operators actively looking to deploy tiered charging, with most planning three tiers of service, but it's application stores that have operators really excited.

The idea is that a customer buys an application through an operator-affiliated store at a price that includes the bandwidth needed to run that application.

To give a proper example: a customer wants to watch YouTube on the move. That customer could download the free client from YouTube, but might prefer to pay a quid a month for the operator-branded client that comes with priority bandwidth to ensure the best viewing experience.

Obviously that requires some network intelligence, and Volubill is hoping to sell that intelligence to operators. The GSMA's OneAPI should provide a standard interface for applications to request priority treatment, though it's going to be the best part of a year before that's widely adopted by operators.

So by next year we should be able to buy an application bundled with the bandwidth necessary to use it. Then we, as customers, will have to decide if that's how we'd like to pay for our next-generation mobile service. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.