Alcatel-Lucent today introduced a solution for service providers aimed at giving operators more control of their data plan offerings and delivering a wider variety of services. Rather than coming at data management from only a network perspective, the company is talking up consumer engagement and education as part of its Smart Plan solution.
Cassidy Shield, VP of marketing for Alcatel-Lucent’s platforms division, said that the company believes “there is not enough conversation around how to engage the consumer around what they’re consuming in their mobile experience.”
Shield said that current data plans mostly engage the consumer through fear of overages – they may receive a text message when they are getting close to their data limit, which then drives them to stop using data.
“It really comes down to removing the fear around using too much data, and creating an environment where you can create flexible price plans, versus just talking about them in a theoretical sense,” Shield said.
Alcatel-Lucent is offering a service that can personalize offers, such as enabling immediate purchase of additional data or transferring data allowances among family members or across devices. Instead of providing a text message informing a user of voice rates for a country, Shield said, an operator could offer an appropriate data price and allowance – encouraging data use while roaming, rather than shutting it off.
“The data plan is the platform,” Shield said.
Another aspect of the Smart Plan product is the ability to allow third parties, such as merchants and advertisers, to engage customers by offering to pay for part of their mobile use.
Shield said that capability is currently in trials, aimed at creating brand affinity in a young audience who may be short on cash and willing to look favorably on advertisers who put their dollars toward chipping in on extra data use.
“Mobile data plans haven’t kept up with users, who are doing more and more with their smartphones. Instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach, mobile service providers now have a real opportunity to improve customer loyalty and create new revenues by providing a greater variety of offers that would appeal to the different usage habits of their subscribers,” said Graham Finnie, chief analyst with Heavy Reading. “The challenge is in the back-office, aligning policy, charging and other platforms to give subscribers the power to choose and then enable the services. Any solution that can help bridge that gap is likely to be welcomed by progressively-minded operators.”
Andrew McDonald, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s platforms division, said that analysis of LTE network use shows a four-fold increase in video consumption compared to 3G.
“As more service providers move to LTE to deliver mobile broadband services, they need to adapt their data plans to subscriber behavior,” McDonald said. “The flexibility of Alcatel-Lucent’s Smart Plan solution allows service providers to quickly react to changing market conditions and competitors’ offers to ensure they retain the loyalty of their customers and grow their business.”
The company will be demonstrating the Smart Plan product at Mobile World Congress later this month.