Next up in this 10-part series on Monetization, let’s look at the Turbo Boost (aka Speed Boost, Bandwidth on Demand, etc.) mobile use case. The proposition for the mobile operator is to gain additional revenue by offering users the ability to temporarily and dynamically increase application performance on demand. It’s expected that mobile subscribers will occasionally want the ability to upgrade the performance of certain high-bandwidth applications for a specific period of time. But what are the applications that will drive this behavior, and will users really be willing to pay, and how much would they pay? And whom would they pay, the operator or the application provider? Scanning the landscape of approaches, it seems that “Turbo Boost” is generally offered to the mobile user in 2 different ways, i.e., the user selects a performance upgrade offered by the mobile operator, or the application provider “embeds” higher performance as part of its service – and in this case, does so in partnership with the mobile operator. Let’s look at these 2 scenarios.


User-initiated Turbo Boost


Here’s an example: using intelligence from the mobile gateway (with integrated application/subscriber awareness), the mobile operator detects that a subscriber to its lowest-tier pricing plan user is (a.) watching a streaming high-definition video, or (b.) playing an online gaming application – to give 2 scenarios. During the session, the operator offers the user the ability to increase bandwidth speed for a period of time, e.g., from the “up to” 3.6 Mbps bandwidth speed normally delivered with his “Bronze” data plan to an “up to” 7.2 Mbps bandwidth speed for a specific duration. Services like Turbo Boost typically have higher uptake rates when offered dynamically "in service" like this. For the online gaming example, let’s say that the user isn’t playing very well, partially due to gaming application latency at the lower network speed – and he really wants to beat his friends this time! After all, he's playing on his new 2 dual-core processor Android tablet, so he accepts the additional charge to Turbo Boost his bandwidth for the next hour. For him, it's a small price to pay for serious bragging rights!


Application-embedded Turbo Boost


Application providers of bandwidth-intensive services can also automatically and transparently bundle in a Turbo Boost capability – by accessing the operator’s intelligent network capabilities while sharing revenues with the operator. For example, a massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming service could offer a fee-based premium service to its most demanding users who are willing to pay extra to ensure an optimal gaming experience. The embedded Turbo Boost capability guarantees a satisfactory user experience, and the gaming provider shares revenue with the operator in exchange for the operators’ priority handling and higher bandwidth delivery of its traffic. Operators can leverage intelligence from the mobile gateway (with integrated application/subscriber awareness) to detect and optimize the traffic from its gaming service partner, and/or may expose a network Application Programming Interface (API) for the gaming service provider’s application to access. For example, Verizon announced that it will publish a "network optimization API" that would provide application developers the ability to build in a "turbocharge" feature for their users who want to temporarily increase available network bandwidth to their smartphones for a small fee.


Will it Play, and Pay?


In a custom Cisco-commissioned Heavy Reading study, based on a global survey of 50 operators, the Turbo Boost use case looked somewhat promising. It was placed in the middle on the “Importance to revenue generation” question with a combined 49% of respondents ranking it as a “4” or “5—VeryI mportant”. Nearly one-half of the operators believed that the penetration rate for Turbo Boost would exceed 20% of subscribers. And about one-quarter of operators felt that Turbo Boost would add more than $5 in ARPU.


Many operators are investing in the intelligent IP networking capabilities necessary to efficiently optimize network resources across subscribers and to generate revenue opportunities by enabling the deployment of new personalized services. For the Turbo Boost service, intelligent mobile packet core and Policy and Charging Control solutions enable users to dynamically upgrade bandwidth for increased application performance, or in the case of bundled capability, enable application providers to activate Turbo Boost for premium paying users.


For more information, see the Mobile Internet Monetization Showcase for case studies, data sheets, and other information on a wide range of revenue-generating "Use Cases" that operators can offer.


Continue Reading: Monetization #7: Money For Nothing