I hear the term “monetizing LTE” used quite a lot, and while I’m not partial to buzz words, sometimes you can’t avoid certain lingo that seems to apply so well.  I commented in an earlier blog  on a finding by GSMA Intelligence that service providers are continuing to invest in LTE network build-outs, however, at least for European operators, the average revenue per user (ARPU) remains flat. The challenge for operators is finding ways to increase ARPU and improve the business case for deploying high speed 4G networks that allow them to capture more of the revenue being spent over these larger 4G pipes.

We recently hosted a webinar with Heavy Reading’s Jim Hodges where we discussed “Why the Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC) of yesterday won’t meet the needs of your Diameter networks today.” As you know, the Diameter protocol is taking center stage in next generation networks. It plays a key role carrying information in and between nodes in 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi networks such as subscriber and device authorization, accounting, charging, and policy, plus other applications.  The amount of Diameter signaling traffic is increasing greatly and will continue to grow as operators implement VoLTE networks in addition to their Evolved Packet Core (EPC). 

We posed a poll question during  the webinar to find out where service providers believe they could improve their prospects for monetizing the huge investment they’re making in 4G networks with the implementation of a DSC, and the results were interesting.  Attendees selected one of the following options:

  • 3G-4G roaming
  • 4G Roaming with local breakout 
  • Wi-Fi roaming interworking
  • OCS proxy applications

The largest number (over 36 percent) selected 3G-4G mobile data roaming as the best way to monetize their 4G investment. Wi-Fi roaming interworking was the second most popular with almost 32 percent, followed by 4G roaming with local breakout at 25 percent, and finally OCS proxy applications at a little over 6 percent.

This makes sense when you consider a couple things. First, increasing the number of inbound roaming subscribers is a good way to improve utilization of next generation infrastructure. Secondly, the prediction that 3G subscribers will make up 48 percent of the overall market by 2016 with 4G subs comprising 8 percent means that service providers need to be able to accommodate 3G-to-4G roaming scenarios. That requires legacy SS7 MAP-to-Diameter interworking – something a DSC can provide.

Wi-Fi offload also represents another way service providers can not only monetize their infrastructure deployments, but also lower the cost-per-bit-delivered to improve the cost  curve for delivering mobile data services (Wireless Broadband Industry Report).

Similarly, 4G roaming with local breakout provides another opportunity for service providers to save costs in backhauling bandwidth-heavy apps, like those involving video, from the visited to the home network,  and to deliver a better user experience.  Ovum Senior Analyst Nishi Verma Nangia pointed the latter out in a recent white paper titled “Monetizing next-generation roaming opportunities.”

Finally, even though it’s not considered a way to monetize a 4G investment  one of the most prevalent use cases we see for DSCs involves Online Charging System (OCS) proxy applications.  This scenario focuses more on improving time-to-market for rolling out services and networks and reducing costs, but is there a monetization angle here?  We’ll discuss this in more detail in our next blog on the drivers for control plane orchestration.  In the meantime, let us know what you think by tweeting us at @Dialogic, and check out the archived webinar, “Diameter Signaling Controllers, Meet Your Future,” where we present some real-world use cases that highlight how next generation DSCs can accelerate implementation of enhanced roaming strategies.