Policy + charging

Mobile Upstart Charges Into New Data Plans

Mobile operator Yoigo is once again shaking up the Spanish telecom scene with a new mobile data charging plan courtesy of its deep packet inspection (DPI) supplier Procera Networks .

Yoigo -- majority owned by Sweden's Telia Company and currently the fourth-largest mobile operator in Spain with more than 3 million customers -- will introduce what it calls a multi-line Internet service, which is perhaps better known as a family plan or a shared wallet plan. The offering allows multiple devices to share the data allowance of a plan.

For example, Yoigo will let customers with more than one device, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and modems, share mobile data traffic among them.

It's not the first time the operator has introduced a new mobile data marketing model to the Spanish market. Last year, Yoigo introduced a mobile data up-sell service: When users approach their monthly data limit, they receive a text alert and are directed to a website where they can choose to buy a data top-up or do nothing and have their data service speed throttled down to 128kbit/s when or if the limit is reached. (See Spanish Mobile Challenger Wields DPI.)

Behind both charging schemes is Procera's DPI gear. In the case of Yoigo's multi-line service, Procera added functionality to its subscriber management platform to enable the service. Rather than using Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) kit, Procera built the service via an open application programming interface (API), JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

Why this matters
Yoigo is a small, relatively new mobile operator in Spain competing with European giants Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), Orange Spain and Vodafone España S.A. It needs to stand out with offers that are different, and cheaper, than those of its larger rivals, and the mobile data up-sell and new family plans are good examples of how to achieve that.

According to Heavy Reading Chief Analyst Graham Finnie, the shared wallet offering is "one that people have talked about for quite a while," adding that, "It's what you'd expect smaller operators to do. They have a greater incentive to innovate and distinguish themselves."

Also, what Yoigo has done in Spain exemplifies the broader industry trend to create different charging models for mobile data services, which is expected to ramp up this year. It's a good example of how mobile operators are exploring new ways to use DPI and its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) counterpart policy control to attract new customers and make the most of the mobile data boom.

"It reflects the fact that there's quite a lot of innovation going on at the moment," says Finnie.

For more
Mobile data charging models will be a key theme this year and especially at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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