Connect@Digitata2018-11-11T19:58:44+00:00
Press Releases Connect at DIgitata

The Secret to Improving the Business Case for IoT Devices

By Hilton Goodhead, Exec: Digitata Innovation

Potential growth of IoT-connected devices

In Nov 2015 Gartner [1] forecast that by 2020 there would be 20.8 billion IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices. The high cost of data backhaul however detracts from the business case for IoT. If this cost can be reduced, the potential applications for IoT will grow. The question is, should we not be thinking about applying dynamic tariffing techniques to IoT?

The “wireless” connection is a key feature of IoT. The technology is therefore suited to exchanging data with devices that are either mobile or located in remote areas. Examples include home appliances, wearables, smart-city sensors, energy metering (smart grid), industrial sensors (industrial internet), and connected cars (engine management, navigation, and entertainment).

Allowing IoT devices to exploit preferential pricing

The operating costs of IoT are driven up by the cost of the wireless backhaul link. While immediate transfer of data is important in many cases (such as for weather sensors), there are many cases where the transaction could be delayed until a more cost-effective time. This opens the opportunity to make the IoT device “price aware”, so that it may automatically exploit preferential pricing offered by networks equipped with Dynamic Tariffing.

With the necessary back-end system and software embedded into the IoT device, it could communicate with the network to determine the current and future price for mobile data access. The IoT device would then be able, based on its particular business rules, to balance urgency of delivery with price. For example, a car engine management system may provide daily updates to the manufacturer at a time when tariffs are low, but would send an immediate message if it were to detect a drop in engine coolant level.

Bill Shock

Operator and industry benefits of intelligent pricing for IoT

Operators offering a dynamic tariff for IoT devices would be able to attract more customers as the ability to lower average tariffs becomes a reality. In addition, they would benefit from a rebalancing of data load on their networks, as the IoT devices use pricing cues to perform their data transactions at times and locations when the operator has spare network capacity. The IoT industry would also be stimulated by a lowering of operating costs, hence improving the IoT business case and increasing the applications for this technology.

References:

[1] Gartner http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3165317

 

Share your thoughts on this topic with us.

Digitata is the world leading provider of dynamic tariffing systems. Digitata can deliver both the backend infrastructure and provide the embeddable code for IoT manufacturers, allowing their devices to become intelligently price-aware.

Contact Hilton Goodhead, Exec: Digitata Innovation via email on hilton.goodhead@digitata.com.

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Bill Shock: Repercussions for Operator Revenue

September 2017

By Hilton Goodhead, Exec: Digitata Innovation

Mobile Data Bill Shock is Widespread

Fear of bill shock or “unauthorised” data consumption is a very real concern to consumers in all markets. International travellers are especially aware that data roaming charges can be easily 10 times more expensive than home data rates.  Unlike Voice or SMS services where the customer is aware of the extent of usage because they are personally involved, data consumption is extremely difficult to estimate because:

  • Significant data can be consumed in background mode (that is when the screen is not active). Examples include automatic operating system updates, automatic app upgrades, app synchronisation traffic (such as instant messaging “status” information) and downloading and buffering of content like Instagram and Facebook.
  • Even while in foreground mode (while the screen is on), it is difficult to estimate the volume of data being consumed by apps such as Facebook, YouTube and so on. Large, high-resolution screens and high bandwidth networks can result in considerable data transfer in a short period.
  • Data consumption is not always immediately visible to subscribers; there may be a lag, particularly when roaming.

Why Bill Shock is Detrimental to Operator Revenue

In many parts of the developing world, data prices are high and customers do not have access to low-cost Wi-Fi as an option for data-intensive tasks. Customers, therefore, respond by:

  • Disabling data access
  • Preventing application and operating system updates
  • Limiting the phone to 2G access only (throttling data bandwidth)
  • And advising their friends and colleagues to do the same

Obviously, all these responses are detrimental to an operator’s revenue stream.

Data Control Smartphone App

One solution involves providing a smartphone app that addresses this lack of confidence by data users and provides real-time bundle consumption status and functionality including the following:

 

Bill Shock

Data Control Functionality

  • The ability to prohibit (foreground and background) access to the data bearer on an app-by-app basis if the tariff is above a user-defined level. This allows important, low data apps (such as instant messaging) to be “always on”, while data-hungry apps can be automatically allowed to operate only when the tariff is low enough.
  • Permitting unrestricted data access during defined time windows, allowing users to exploit night time packages.
  • Allowing access to roaming on an app-by-app basis, thus making roaming practical for certain apps (such as selected instant messaging apps), even if tariffs are high.
  • Providing comprehensive reporting on app data consumption.

Empower the Mobile User

With such an app, the previously helpless user is empowered with the tools to fully control how his/her phone consumes data. The result is a user who can fine-tune their data bundle allocation to the apps they value most and therefore get maximum value-for-money. Offering the consumer control restores their confidence in using the data bearer and allows them to more fearlessly explore the internet and the app-sphere. Consequently, mobile operators should be able to nurture such customers to more avid data consumption.

Digitata is the provider of dynamic tariffing systems for the intelligent pricing of telecoms bearers (voice, data and SMS) as well as segmented smart bundles. Digitata’s SnapTariff smartphone application provides customers convenient access to intelligent pricing, bundle offers and data control.

Contact Hilton Goodhead, Exec: Digitata Innovation via email on hilton.goodhead@digitata.com.

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Automated Mobile Network Auditing (Part 2)
Detecting Deactivated Cells

By Jessica Franks, Presales Engineer, Digitata Networks

In our last article, we looked at the importance of regular independent automated mobile network audits and delved into a use case in which over $1 million worth of “hidden” equipment was discovered in an operator’s network. This article looks at a use case that is all too common in networks around the world.

Is this thing switched on?

“Mobile Network Operator rolls out 5000 new LTE sites in record time” – does this sound like a familiar headline? Every year, operators worldwide roll out new sites at a rapid rate. This is generally great for subscribers in terms of coverage and capacity, but sometimes subscribers read the headline and wonder why they still have to stand in the corner of their garden to successfully make a call, or why calls are always dropping on their frequently-travelled route home.

With regular network audits, operators can ensure that new sites being deployed are configured with the correct parameter values. More importantly, operators can ensure, after the new sites have been optimised, that they are indeed activated and generating revenue.

At several mobile network operators where Digitata Networks’ products were used to perform network audits, it was discovered that numerous cells in the network were in fact deactivated. A deactivated cell does not carry any traffic, which means it does not generate revenue for the operator.

Some of these deactivations are the result of rapid rollouts, but not all. A cell must be deactivated to change certain parameters. An overworked engineer could easily forget to reactivate a cell after changing the relevant parameter. Without regular automated network audits, this would only be picked up after monitoring KPIs or receiving customer complaints.

Could you be losing over $1.5 million a month due to deactivated cells?

When auditing the network of a single vendor at a Tier 1 operator, 5239 deactivated cells were detected. Of these, 3900 should have been deleted in the OSS after cutovers. 986 cells were flagged for further investigation and action. However, 353 of these cells had been deactivated in error…

August 2017

Networks offering

Using the results of the audit, the operator was able to reactivate these cells, where required, leading to an immediate increase in voice and data traffic in those areas, which in turn resulted in an increase in revenue. This increase in revenue from the affected cells was estimated as follows:

Voice Traffic (ERL) Data Traffic (UL+DL) MB
Average traffic uptake per cell @ Busy Hour 3 ERL 50 MB
Average traffic uptake per cell @ Day 15 ERL 600 MB
USD per min/MB $0.10 $0.05
USD generated per day/cell $90 $60
Cells that were Activated 353
Revenue USD due to activation $31,770 $21,180
Estimated TOTAL Additional Revenue USD $52,950 per day

 

As per the above calculations, the operator had been losing about $52,950 per day of revenue due to the 353 cells deactivated in error. That equates to approximately $1.5 million dollars a month.

Are you interested in an audit of the state of your network by an independent service provider?

Contact Philip Korf, CEO: Digitata Networks via email on philip.korf@digitata.com.

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Automated Mobile Network Auditing – Part 1

July 2017

By Philip Korf, CEO: Digitata Networks

Auditing – As important for Mobile Networks as for Finance

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word audit as “A systematic review or assessment of something”. Globally, companies are aware of the obligations, needs, and benefits of independent financial auditing, which are regularly conducted to provide an objective examination of the company’s financial statements.  Independent auditing promotes transparency and accuracy, reducing the risk of error, concealment and unscrupulous dealings.  Independent auditing also increases the value and credibility of the financial statements produced by management, reducing investor risks and consequently decreasing the cost of capital.

Network Audits Increase Revenues, Reduce Costs, and Simplify Operations

By applying the principles of financial auditing to the technical attributes of a telecommunications network, similar benefits can be derived from auditing the network.  From processes and procedures to assets and systems, independent audits from 3rd party providers can offer useful insights into a complex environment and the results of these audits can assist an operator in identifying areas of the network that can be improved, to ultimately increase their bottom line.

Challenges to Comprehensive Mobile Network Auditing

Planning, building, operating and optimising a telecommunications network is quite a complex undertaking as myriad network elements are managed by multiple systems, across multiple technologies, in multiple domains, each with their own way of presenting and managing the various data sets and parameters. There are also thousands of different settings per network element, making network auditing a rather tedious and laborious task.

The Solution – An independent, automated auditing system (vendor-, domain- and technology-agnostic)

The key to comprehensive network auditing is a centralised system connected to all telecommunications network elements, automatically extracting network information, allowing repeatable, automated, auditing checks-and-balances, performed across the entire telecommunications network, irrespective of vendor, domain or technology.

Although a once-off network audit may highlight anomalies and/or improve network performance temporarily, regular automated audits are vital to ensuring that the network maintains a consistent level of performance.

At Digitata Networks, our offered products, services and solutions are designed to assist telecommunication operators to regularly, automatically and independently audit the technical attributes of their network, leading to increased revenues, reductions in operational costs and simplification of operations.

Networks offering

Network Audit Use Case – Discovering Hidden Assets Worth Millions

Not only can automated audits highlight incorrectly configured elements in the network, but they can also discover assets that are not configured at all.  These unconfigured assets are sitting “idle” in the network and not contributing to revenue generation.  Network equipment is costly, with operators spending millions of dollars every year buying new assets to upgrade their networks.

Although it is possible to manually detect inactive equipment in the network through querying each node individually via the various OEM’s NMS systems or conducting physical site visits, it would require significant regular effort from the operational and engineering teams, adding additional workload to an already resource-strapped workforce.

An integrated and automated audit solution, regularly highlighting and correcting inactive assets in the network ensures that each asset deployed is active and correctly configured, contributing to the revenue generation within the operation.

At Digitata Networks, we assist operators around the globe to discover their “hidden” network assets.  During an automated network audit project for a Tier 1 mobile network operator in Africa, we discovered 519 unconfigured UBBP and WBBP boards. These boards, combined with the relevant licences, provide the channel elements for the NodeB’s, which are needed to assign voice and data resources to the UE.

Based on the unit cost of each UBBP and WBBP board, it meant that we had “discovered” some $1.35 million worth of equipment sitting “idle” in their network.  The detection of these unconfigured boards, in conjunction with CE congestion stats, allowed the operator to correctly configure these boards where additional capacity was required, and redeploy or recover the remaining boards, thereby making effective use of all these purchased assets.

If you are concerned that you may have unused equipment sitting idle in your network, contact Philip Korf, CEO: Digitata Networks via email on philip.korf@digitata.com for an independent audit of your live network assets.

Three Steps to Cracking the Code of Optimised Pricing

June 2017

By J.J. Botha, CEO: Dynamic Tariffing, Digitata

In the mobile arena, market penetration and growth has slowed and mobile telecommunications operators need to find innovative ways to capture market share. While incremental gain in a flat market is certainly not easy, it is not impossible. A scientific and strategic approach could lead to an estimated increase in revenue of up to 1%.

Data analytics is changing the game and so mobile operators need to learn the new rules. Artificial intelligence and machine learning deliver the ability to understand the customer base down to micro-segments or even to the level of the individual. Delivering an offer that is relevant, at the right time and in the right place will ultimately result in growth for the mobile operator.

Step 1 – Learning from Other Industries

Developing optimised pricing strategies is nothing new in many industries. Think of “Black Friday” in retail. Customers are attracted to “Black Friday Madness” because it activates their brains’ reward centres. Limited time offers make customers feel a sense of urgency to buy, and limiting the number of items available at a large discount makes the customer more eager to purchase.

Then there is the “Joneses” syndrome. People compare themselves to their neighbours as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. If their peers are benefiting from a good deal, they will not want to miss out on it. Online retailers are taking advantage of this and when a customer looks at an online product, they’re alerted to “what other people like you are interested in”.

Uber provides another case in point of a company using intelligent pricing. The Uber app changes its pricing according to supply and demand.

Amazon and Facebook are also notable examples of delivering customized offers, and the results speak for themselves.

Step 2 – Striking the Balance

There’s always a concern that discounts that are too aggressive could lead to massive profit erosion, while prices that are too high could increase churn and cause value loss. So how do you price?

The answer is to avoid a spray and pray approach – the sending out of offerings via SMS to large groups, or the grouping of some 100,000 people into a high-value segment and targeting them with offerings. A more scientific approach is required and this is where analytics delivers the best results to help mobile operators devise a strategy around price elasticity of demand.

A customer behaves and responds in a certain way each time an offer is received and this needs to be constantly tested. Understanding personal habits allows us to drive our customer up the value chain. An example of this would be taking a predominantly voice user and leading him on a journey to becoming a more mature data user over time.

Price elasticity of demand is relevant to all markets and spend. Most industries are successfully leveraging price elasticity of demand and this is where mobile operators need to catch up.

Step 3 Redefining Your Pricing Strategy

Competition is getting fiercer in the mobile market as market penetration increases. To manage the corresponding challenges and opportunities, it’s becoming essential for mobile operators to look at innovative ways to increase revenue, such as by developing an optimised pricing strategy.

Some customers are already optimising their spend by physically using a dual SIM. It’s time for mobile operators to target these customers with an optimised pricing strategy that feeds their demand for “price gratification”, and, as such, create brand affinity and life-long, loyal customers.

But developing this pricing strategy takes analytical skills combined with technical knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the mobile telecommunications market. Millions of data points in a mobile operator’s network can be analysed to provide the operator with the necessary information to be able to micro-segment their customer base and then scientifically develop an optimised pricing strategy.

It’s essential to stay ahead in the digital era: customers today demand more digital interaction and mobile operators need to respond with structured packages, plans and bundles that are attractive and meet customers’ needs – or risk losing revenue to the competition.

About Digitata

Digitata Limited focuses on delivering intelligence in the mobile telecommunications and digital media arenas. Headquartered in Mauritius, we employ more than 150 skilled employees and have regional offices in South Africa, New Zealand, Panama and UAE, and a local presence in Canada, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK and USA.

We enable mobile operators, brands and agencies to offer their customers greater value and an enhanced user experience. We do this through the application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Our multidisciplinary team includes engineers, computer scientists, actuaries and economists and is collaborating on these challenges.

Our smart app, SnapTariff, provides data control and management, feedback on customer usage and behaviour, and the ability to present real-time offers such as smart bundling.

Visit the Dynamic Tariffing stream at digitata.com for more information.