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Enjoy streaming with no limits, really?

November 24, 2015 8:09 PM

Category: Better Services Subscriber Analytics | by Melahat Elis

Over the last few years we have seen an explosion in OTT mobile entertainment options with many of mobile entertainment companies investing in marketing by operators. As streaming of entertainment has become more common, the reality is that consumers often don’t realize how fast their data packages can be consumed. Any operator that overcomes this flaw is put in the spotlight. It was no surprise that T-Mobile US’ launch of Binge On™ created a lot of attention, promising free video streams for subscribers of 24 OTT providers among them HBO, Hulu, Netflix, SHOWTIME, Sling TV, STARZ, and WatchESPN. John Legere, the T-Mobile CEO, even said that no one pays, not the customers nor the video streaming services. Is the streaming of content of these OTT providers indeed limitless and without anyone paying for it? Is this the start of a new era of mobile entertainment – an era when we can truly access entertainment anywhere at any time?

Since Binge On is one of the latest offers, let’s have a close look at the detail. The Binge On plan allows access to 24 OTT providers all of which need to fulfill strict technical requirement such as enabling their streaming content to run as an optimized video for mobile screens to minimize data consumption. Youtube and Facebook do not fulfill this program. Another prerequisite, this time from the customer perspective, requires access to a Simple Choice plan paying a minimum of $50 a month, with an additional $30 monthly fee for a second line and any additional lines - up to maximum of 12 - costing $10 monthly for each line. For instance a family of four would need to pay $100 a month in addition to the subscription fees required to access each OTT, such as Netflix to utilize the Binge On plan. Once subscribed, the customer is given a mobile phone line with 2GB of 4G LTE data – an amount which T-Mobile claims to be double the previous amount on the Binge On plan. Now the question still remains - how much streaming can you, as a consumer with 2GB consume and how much would you consume if unlimited data was part of this subscription. For users who consume 2GB of data before the end of the month will find they are only able to access 2G speeds until the end of your bill cycle. The only way to avoid this drastic drop in service levels, from 4G LTE to 2G, is by paying for additional GB packs. Will this product really attract much interest and will this be a catalyst for operators in other regions in the world to attract customers by copying the BingeOnTM model?

In Europe we saw such ideas both in Germany and the EU back in 2013. At the time Deutsche Telekom announced probabilities of not including prioritized content towards data consumption on a number of data packs.  Now, Vodafone similarly speaks about providing services with prioritized speed for increased customer experience.  There are still the charging aspects to reach increased customer experience. How could charging look now? And what would it mean for consumers?

Now we see charging principles that could really lead to increased customer experience. With Redknee you can prevent the misuse of network QoS, still ensuring services, for example voice over IP, video over IP, streaming and conferencing offered with guaranteed QoS. Turbo button provides additionally QoS on demand. With fair usage policy our BSS products enable targeted and bundled offers with devices like tablets. Data plans can be shared across family members and their devices. Plans can be even application based.

Overall the market is still young with providers using OTT’s as a point of differentiation in a competitive market, but it will be hard to tell if this is a strategy that can be used in the long term or if it will eventually just become ‘another service’ offered by providers with consumer demand dictating the amount and speed of data usage in the future?

In any case telecommunications providers need to be prepared to differ their offerings and work with external parties to drive new and innovative business models. To learn more about how Redknee's solutions are helping CSPs on this path, visit