Wireless Internet to cost less at home

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Wireless Internet to cost less at home

Mobile broadband providers could soon charge more for services to actual ‘mobile’ users in an attempt to manage traffic volumes and make business models more profitable.

Speaking to iTnews, vice-president of A/NZ and Pacific for Acision, Bill Dekker, said that operators are looking for ways to free up capacity on their networks in order to support more subscribers.

"It's only a question of time before operators have a lower price for a subscriber that works from home [on a mobile broadband connection] than for people who are mobile. They'll have to do it," Dekker said.

He also foreshadowed the expansion of the peak and off-peak split common with fixed line xDSL plans to mobile broadband as well, but with one key difference.

Instead of fixed peak and off-peak slots, Dekker said that mobile operators could take real-time measurements of network capacity and cut the price temporarily in periods of low usage to encourage more subscribers onto the network.

"What would make sense is if operators want to get the megabytes up, they send out price promotions to users when it's quiet," he said.

"Something along the lines of, ‘We're experiencing peak traffic at the moment. If you want to get cheaper service, download at 11pm and we'll give you half price.'

"You wouldn't do it across the whole network, but you could post a banner advertisement to some users' screens or send them an SMS to say there is a special on data at this time. The tools are there to enable this type of model."

Closer integration between the traffic management, billing, and promotions systems would also be required to facilitate this, he said.

Other network optimisation techniques being considered or implemented by mobile carriers include packet prioritisation, peer-to-peer shaping, caching, and lowering the resolution of images and other large files sent to mobile devices.

However, Dekker acknowledged that mobile carriers that charge per megabyte would continue to shun a lot of network optimisation.

"Operators that charge per megabyte don't want to optimise anything because they don't want to do anything that reduces the amount of traffic to the handset," he said.

"Those that sell a chunk of capacity at a fixed price want to optimise their traffic streams to reduce the cost per megabyte. It costs up to five times more to deliver a megabyte over mobile networks than a fixed line service so the challenge for operators is how to manage that traffic and make it more profitable."

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