Sponsored Data Plans Can Help Keep Mobile Subscribers Connected

Next Generation Communications Blog

Sponsored Data Plans Can Help Keep Mobile Subscribers Connected

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor 

It’s no secret that many of us these days are very attached to our smartphones and tablets. Yet for all the entertainment and value these devices – and the applications, information, and people they can access – provide, nobody likes getting bills from their wireless carriers. That’s especially true when the dollar figure at the bottom of those bills increase.

But there are some options mobile carriers might want to consider to help keep their subscribers’ data plan bills more manageable, and keep their customers happier. One way to allow for that is by introducing sponsored data charging programs.

Sponsored data charging programs are an effective way mobile carriers can help their subscribers justify the cost of connectivity, while growing their own user bases and expanding their ecosystems to include more application providers and marketers. That’s the word from Barbara Sampson, senior marketing manager for policy and charging PLM marketing, and Thomas King, manager of the policy and charging portfolio, at Alcatel-Lucent. The two wrote a recent TechZine posting, Operators benefit from sponsored data charging, that details how mobile operators can prosper with these types of programs.

Such programs, Alcatel-Lucent calls them Smart Plans, enable mobile subscribers to enjoy connectivity without being charged for it on their monthly plan.

There are various models of sponsored data charging. The zero rating model, for example, has an application provider or other third-party pay for subscriber data consumed by the specific app or service. A second example would involve a marketer providing a subscriber with a data reward for making a mobile purchase or trying a new service.

However, introducing these kinds of new options involves a bit of work on the billing front. That’s why Alcatel-Lucent and Aquto have joined forces to address sponsored data charging. The partnership involves Aquto leveraging Alcatel-Lucent’s SurePay platform with its own monetization platform to enable mobile carriers to support sponsored data models.

Aquto offers both cloud-based sponsorships to enable data rewards and zero rating, and a service provider user-engagement application option, which provides a destination at which subscribers can discover apps and services and get advertiser offers for data rewards and/or zero rating.

A huge benefit here is that operators can build service plans that give customers visibility over all of the devices that us data plans which enable them keep track of usage and let them top off their accounts wherever they may be.  Mobile service providers can thus not only obtain news revenues from sponsors but are positioned to provide customers a more compelling and understandable user experience. 

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