In this recent Monetization series, we’ve looked at different approaches in which operators are offering mobile broadband services. Tiered Pricing and Family Data Plans are a couple of examples of how operators are expanding their user bases with more granular service offers that give subscribers better value and opportunities for personalization. But there is another segment of users who only want to purchase occasional mobile broadband services for their laptops, tablets or smartphones, without signing up for a long-term contract of any kind. Time-based data plans let users access mobile data networks for a specific period, e.g., an hour, day, week, etc. The session ends when the user reaches the expiration of the time period purchased (or reaches a defined quota of data usage). These Day/Session Pass services are becoming increasingly popular and are evolving into a kind of new model for pre-paid data services.
By offering Day/Session Pass services, operators can monetize price-sensitive and “casual” mobile data users with temporary access to the operator’s mobile data network. At the same time, it gives the operator an up-sell opportunity to offer specific promotions targeting these casual users.
There’ll Be Days Like This
In a custom Cisco-commissioned Heavy Reading study, based on a global survey of 50 operators, Day/SessionPass was ranked on par with the Family/Group Data plan use case in terms of importance, with 24% ranking it “5—Very Important”. It was also one of the more attractive use cases to operators in terms of expectations for subscriber adoption and revenue generation. One benefit cited by operators is that consumers understand what they are buying with time-based billing models – notwithstanding the current operator trend toward usage-based revenue models. A number of operators interviewed said that they are already offering or planning to introduce Day/Session Pass services. However some operators were concerned that Day/Session Pass services would conflict with existing prepaid mobile Internet offerings, which tend to be usage-based (e.g., TT$4/MB prepaid data from TSTT). Some operators thought the Day/Session Pass use case was well suited to the “kiosk” prepay market.
Eight Days a Week is Not Enough
Day/Session Pass services are already offered by many operators globally, with many different flavors based on whether the service is for a feature phone, smartphone, tablet or notebook/netbook – as well as whether the time period is continuous or not. And many are actually hybrid time/usage-based offers, where the “time” period can prematurely expire if the user reaches a defined quota of data usage. For example, AT&T’s DataConnect Pass for netbooks and notebooks provides multiple time period options, each with a data quota maximum: Day Pass – $15 (with 100 MB quota); Week Pass – $30 (with 300 MB quota); Month Pass – $50 (with 1GB quota). Interestingly, AT&T suggests that DataConnect customers consider using Ethernet or Wi-Fi for very large downloads and software updates to avoid consuming the allowed data quota too quickly.
Orange France announced Internet Everywhere range of prepaid services that includes: 1 hour Pass for €8, a 2 hour Pass for €14, a 6 hour Pass for €25, and a 20 minute Pass for €3 (with 24 hour validity). Sprints offers users with 4G capable netbooks/notebooks the option of Day ($14.99), Week($29.99), and Month ($49.99) Mobile Broadband connections.
Rogers in Canada offers different Day/Session Pass plans for feature phones and smartphones. C$1 gives Feature Phone users a Data Day Pass with unlimited mobile internet for any 24-hour period. Feature phone users can also get a Week Pass for C$7 for up to 125 MB of data usage. And C$2.99 provides a Smartphone user a Data Day Pass with 20MB of data to use for mobile browsing, email, instant messaging, and application use for any 24-hour period. Inexpensive phone-based Day Passes are also offered by T-Mobile USA (Web DayPass is $1.49 per continuous 24 hours) and Vodafone UK (£1 for a day, running from midnight to midnight, with a 25MB per day data limit).
Some operators also include Wi-Fi hotspots in the Day/Session Pass offers, such as PCCW in Hong Kong which offers a HK$98 (~US$12.50) DataRoaming Day Pass that provides unlimited mobile data and Wi-Fi roaming in mainland China.
Many operators are investing in the intelligent mobile/evolved packet core and Policy and Charging Control (PCC) solutions necessary to deploy new mobile broadband services like Day/Session Pass. These intelligent IP solutions give operators the flexibility, performance and scalability to sell mobile data plans for defined time periods and which also have data volume-based controls. A robust subscriber notification functionality keeps subscribers aware when quota reaches a data usage threshold or time period expires, and provides capabilities for user top-up.
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.
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