And if for some reason, the system fails, then at least when the subscriber calls the customer care centre, the agent will have the details of the customer's latest actions on their screen, saving the consumer the exasperation of having to explain the whole process from beginning to end, as well as reducing average call handling time for the operator.
As noted earlier, data traffic is going to continue to expand at dizzying rates, powered by the rising tide of video, and highlighted by the growing increase in cross-screen viewing and service providers' TV - everywhere strategies (for example, enabling customers to move from the TV while at home to a tablet on the train when watching a movie). Service providers need to harness this data, monetising the demand for new data services while optimising their network and IT assets.
Therefore, in 2013, we'll start to see service providers using LTE as a means to introduce new, value-based pricing models and advanced services, and not just as a way to overcome capacity challenges and provide subscribers with faster speeds.
This will require better integration between the network and the service provider's business support systems, with policy control and real-time charging key to successful monetisation, and it will allow service providers to introduce new, innovative data services.
Need to integrate networks
Meanwhile, to help prevent network capacity shortfalls, service providers have been using wi-fi as a defensive offload strategy, while small cells have been deployed to help with indoor coverage at large shopping malls, sport stadiums and other crowded venues.
But to really improve the customer experience, service providers will strive to ensure that their subscribers enjoy the same level of quality of service across various networks used - wi-fi, 3G and 4G -when they start watching a movie on their tablet at their favourite coffee shop before continuing to watch it in the car's multi-media player. To achieve this, service providers will need to integrate all the different networks involved.
Now the integration between small cells, wi-fi and wireless networks that such an experience demands, is not easy; such heterogeneous networks "HetNets" raise challenges of large-scale network planning, deployment and optimisation, as well as session continuity, quality of service (QoS) assurance and security, but it's a challenge that service providers have strong incentive to address. We'll definitely be hearing more about HetNets in 2013.
In 2013, it is most likely that there will be greater momentum in service providers' penetration of new verticals such as in the case of the connected home and health monitoring solutions (which are often enabled by new cloud technology). The "connected home" solutions as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions are becoming more prevalent.
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