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The keys to a successful mobile plan
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The keys to a successful mobile plan

how does a mobile operator go about designing a plan and putting it together to launch to market?

If you have shopped around for a mobile contract recently, you will know there are a multitude of different options from which to choose. So how does a mobile operator go about designing a plan and putting it together to launch to market?

At Telstra Wholesale we work with mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to design and develop plans that deliver great mobile experiences for end users. Below is a high level overview of the points to consider when designing a plan.

Pre or Post-paid?

Pre-paid plans offer flexibility to customers who only want a mobile service for a short time, such as holiday-makers, or those who don’t want to enter into a credit agreement necessary for a post-paid contract.

Post-paid plans offer a different set of benefits, because the customer signs up for a contract for 12 or 24 months. For example, combining a new phone purchase with a contract typically gives them better value. Post-paid customers also benefit from easier bill management and direct debit payment arrangements, whereas pre-paid customers usually need to actively top-up every month.

The choice also has implications for the operator business model. There is an element of credit risk attached to post-paid contracts if the user doesn’t pay at the end of the month, but, if due diligence is done correctly, post-paid arrangements offer more predictable revenue streams and longer customer retention.

Filling buckets with events

At the back-end of the system, pre and post-paid contracts are set up in a very similar way. The various services the operator chooses to offer – voice minutes, SMS, data allowances, international calling minutes or simply an overall credit value – are put into ‘buckets’ that are filled to support a number of ‘events’.

Chargeable ‘events’ – making a call, sending a message or browsing the web – are then deducted from the relevant bucket until it is empty. When plans include unlimited voice minutes or SMS, the charge assigned to that service is $0 – in essence, the bucket is never emptied.

In a pre-paid plan, once a bucket is empty, the customer can no longer use that service until the plan is recharged (i.e. the bucket is refilled) or unless some other pre-paid credit is available.

On post-paid plans operators can allow customers to continue using that service once that bucket is empty, and will charge for that usage beyond allowances at advertised rates. Most will instate a maximum value cut-off to avoid customers experiencing ‘bill shock’ at the end of the month.

The key to a good plan: know your target market

The most important thing an MVNO needs to know when creating a plan is to understand the target consumer, the market segment they are in, how that segment behaves and most importantly their needs.

Operators fill buckets to cater for specific customer segments or needs. For example, MVNOs targeting customers with family overseas will offer a larger allowance for international calls. Likewise, operators can offer greater value to customers who only want voice minutes and SMS by reducing the amount of included data.

Our bucket structure enables operators to offer customers the combination of services they need, without paying for services they don’t want.

Experience and technology to rely on

For MVNOs, our breadth of products and services means you can customise and scale to meet your changing business needs – and those of your customers. We are committed to providing quality services and systems that make it even easier for you to do business with us.

We have years of experience in running the most extensive mobile network in Australia. We can help you develop a business model that works for your customers. We also provide operators with a number of valuable backend services that assist in running successful plans.

Real-time monitoring

Operators need to monitor usage to ensure the terms of the plan are being met. The Telstra platform enables you to track usage in real-time, so you always have up to the minute information on allowances and credit levels. You can keep your customers informed with text or email alerts so your customers don’t experience bill shock or service interruptions.

Real-time monitoring is vital for pre-paid plans because these plans set clear limits and there is no agreement to recoup costs for use above available allowances. Real-time monitoring also enables you to cap post-paid agreements, so you can offer plans for customers who want the convenience of a post-paid contract combined with the peace of mind that they (or their children and others on the account) won’t exceed monthly allowances.

Data banks and rollovers

Consumers don’t like the feeling of waste when allowances they have paid for remain unused at the end of the month. The problem is most acute with data balances. We can provide MVNOs with data banks and rollover facilities so you can give your customers the assurance they are getting the best possible value from their plan.

Future-proof your competitive advantage

By working with a dedicated Telstra Wholesale team, you can harness innovation to deliver greater value for your customers.

Partnering with Telstra means you will always benefit from the highest network standards. Our coverage footprint is underpinned by over 4800 4G and 7000 3G sites, and the 4G component uses a combination of 1800MHz / 700MHz for coverage with 2600MHz added for capacity in selected areas, resulting in the best possible mobile experience.

In 2014, we acquired significant bandwidth in the 700 & 2600MHz spectrum. This additional spectrum will enable us to better manage the growing demand for data and continue to deliver a superior network experience well into the future.

We continue to invest in technology to help you optimise your business success today, but also extend your competitive advantage into the future.

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Steve Bauer
The Author Steve Bauer

Steve Bauer works for Telstra delivering mobile network solutions to some of Telstra's biggest wholesale clients. With 20 years of experience in telecommunications, both in Australia and overseas with companies such as Samsung, Symbian and Nokia he has developed a unique view of the international mobile world. He has an MBA and Bachelor of Engineering in telecommunications. Finally, after meeting the Queen he returned to the colonies to live in Melbourne and rarely writes about himself in the third person.

See all of Steve Bauer's posts

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