Three Policies Proven to Eliminate Congestion, Cut Costs and Boost Data ARPU
Once offered by the five largest US carriers, unlimited data plans began to decline significantly last year as all top tier heavyweights scaled back on the option, and the two largest carriers completely discontinued it for new customers. Unlimited usage means limited carrier control, which often leads to high roaming costs, network congestion, and ultimately a poor end-user experience. Regional carriers can achieve market differentiation from Tier 1 competition by offering unlimited data plans; however, to avoid the same problems, these carriers must implement effective traffic management and policy enforcement.
Below are three traffic management policies that ClearSky’s Total Traffic Manager (TTM) customers have successfully deployed to enhance the traditional unlimited data plan with greater carrier control, increased data ARPU, reduced roaming costs, and a better overall experience for subscribers.
Tethering Detection and Enforcement
Subscribers with unlimited data access often connect their laptops, tablets, game systems, and even smart TVs and Blue-ray players to their phones via Wi-Fi, enabling them to enjoy high-speed Internet through their cellular data plans. In most cases, the plan is priced for just one smartphone, not a household full of connected devices, which means the carrier is missing incremental revenue opportunities. One ClearSky customer capitalized on this behavior by implementing tethering detection, enabling tethered users to opt-in to the service for an additional fee, and enforcing a policy that limits bandwidth on unauthorized devices. The carrier experienced a 65% reduction in tethered traffic, and 29 GB of data savings in the first eight hours after the policy was implemented.
Throughput Reduction for Heavy Users
Even when data access is unlimited, the amount of backhaul all subscribers must share is still limited, and a few data-hungry video junkies often cause network congestion and interrupt the high-speed experience for other subscribers on the same site. In one case, ClearSky analyzed the data traffic of a carrier customer to find that 11 users accounted for 13% of total bandwidth in a two-day period. To ensure fair allocation of resources, this carrier defined and enforced a policy to reduce the throughput used for data-intensive applications such as streaming, and make that bandwidth available to all subscribers. By controlling traffic, the carrier managed to prevent congestion, while still accommodating subscribers’ need for speed.
Limited Data Access for Roamers
Unlimited plans generally allow subscribers to continue using unlimited data even when roaming on another network. While the subscriber does not usually incur any additional cost, the carrier must pay wholesale roaming, GRX and clearinghouse charges, which often cost more than the subscriber’s monthly bill. To rectify this losing proposition and avoid roaming costs, one ClearSky customer took control of data roaming by reducing speed to 50 kbps after a roaming subscriber consumes 100 MB of data—the carrier decreased their data roaming expense by more than 20%.
To evolve and enhance the traditional unlimited data plan with the strategies listed above, carriers must first understand the unique behavior and traffic patterns of their subscribers. ClearSky’s TTM, a sophisticated traffic and policy creation, management and enforcement service, provides carriers real-time visibility to the data traffic running through their networks. Using TTM, ClearSky actively monitors and analyzes data usage to identify and recommend policies that best accommodate a carrier’s unique subscriber base, as well as looking for opportunities to boost data ARPU. To help educate subscribers about their own usage and practices, TTM can generate text alerts to subscribers when tethering is detected or when certain events occur (e.g., user starts a data session while roaming). To learn more about ClearSky’s Total Traffic Manager visit www.csky.com or email info [at] csky [dot] com.