6 Billing-Related Predictions for the Wireless Market in 2013

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By Steve McIntosh

As the wireless industry rockets forward technologically, it is diversifying with regard to the business models and services that emerge from it. Here are six predictions relating to billing that seem inevitable in the coming year.

1. More customers than ever will get their wireless services from an MVNO rather than directly from a carrier. This prediction is the logical result of sheer numbers – dozens of new, aggressive MVNO businesses have launched in 2012. Many of them are offering more compelling services than the previous generation of MVNOs that focused on selling the same services as carriers, but at a lower price. With carriers recognizing the impact of MVNOs on their markets, they’ve changed the ways they sell mobile data at wholesale. With more flexible and cost-effective options available, new MVNOs have introduced everything from Freemium mobile broadband to social data sharing. With more MVNOs in the marketplace meeting consumer demand for big-carrier alternatives, it stands to reason that more customers will receive wireless services from MVNOs in 2013.

2. Wireless will emerge as the primary form of broadband service with more OTT-type services bundled in. Both MVNOs and rural operators want to meet the increasing demand for mobile broadband. With the introduction of 4G-LTE, mobile is now better positioned to replace fixed-line service as a consumer’s primary broadband connection. But vanilla broadband isn’t the way to go; new operators are looking at ways to sell value and tangible applications to the customer with broadband underneath or even baked-in. This means more sophisticated products and promotions across the board. In turn, this puts a premium on product management, on the ability to bring new services and offers to market rapidly, and on experimenting with optimal pricing and packaging models as the market shakes out.

3. Prepaid unlimited plans will become more popular with consumers who have subscribed traditionally to postpaid plans. Another trend MVNOs and other alternative providers want to benefit from is that of large operators taking many unlimited plans out of the market. The concept of unlimited prepaid has emerged and it is compelling to more than just the credit-challenged market. But prepaid unlimited shifts an operator’s focus to creating strong customer experiences, adding value in creative ways, and maintaining a strong relationship with the customer. If unlimited prepaid drives service commoditization, then operators who offer it will have to compete on devices, value-added services, and how well they are able to care for customers at each stage of their relationship.

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