Acision Issues 2009 Predictions

Messaging company Acision has released its predictions for the global mobile market in 2009. While it will undoubtedly be a tough year for many global economies, Acision believes that the changing economic landscape will present many revenue opportunities for service providers. Based on the 2008/2009 New Year SMS figures alone, Acision predicts that vmessaging and its associated revenues will continue to soar globally, despite the economic downturn. Acision has compiled its mobile predictions for 2009 around its core business domains (messaging, mobile broadband, mobile marketing and charging), highlighting ways in which service providers can capture potential revenues and charge for services effectively.

Messaging
According to Acisions figures, global SMS traffic increased by 30% over the New Year period compared to the same period last year. Revellers sent more than 55 billion text messages, with 31 billion of these being processed successfully and without interruption through Acisions systems. Impressive SMS growth was seen in North America, where 6 billion New Year messages were sent, as well as other markets such as Latin America, Asia and Africa. However, the Philippines retains its leading position as a text messaging powerhouse, with over 3 billion messages sent over New Year by a subscriber base of just 66 million. 
Acision says that these figures demonstrate that SMS is still the preferred choice for communicating and is set to remain the most dominant data revenue driver for service providers in 2009. 
Most networks are equipped to cope with the surge in messaging during New Year peaks, but on an average day, these networks only use about half of this capacity, says
Acision VP of Product Marketing, Steven van Zanen. In mature and saturated markets such as North America, Europe and parts of Asia-Pac, Acision believes that sweating underutilized network assets will be instrumental in driving more messaging revenue. By offering value added enhancements to messaging that are already proving to be effective in the online community, such as automated replies and out-of-office, service providers can offer more convenience and productivity to end users, while increasing revenue streams.
Acision also believes that in all markets, messaging will increasingly be a key way to interact with personal blogs and online services such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. It notes that this approach has already been very successful in the US, where operators have marketed multimedia messaging as a channel in their social networking offerings.  As a result, MMS traffic per user in the US is twice the global average, says van Zanen. Adding that in emerging markets, such as Africa and parts of Asia, where fixed-line infrastructure is limited, basic mobile messaging services will also remain a cost effective form of communicating for users.

Mobile Marketing

Acision predicts that mobile marketing will remain in its early stages in 2009, with mobile operators continuing to experiment with predominately single-channel solutions. In order to significantly increase revenue, however, service providers will need to leverage more from the mobile marketing value chain they already have in place.
Budgets are shrinking, however the mobiles direct route to the consumer is increasing its appeal as a marketing mechanism, says van Zanen. To fully kick off mobile marketing, service providers need to monetise mobile messaging as a vehicle for advertising, work with the brands to enable advert insertion as part of the existing communications streams, provide end user control so subscribers can opt-in or receive some level of reward and increase advertising relevance based on a customers identity and full context such as location, usage and device capabilities.
Acision adds that in some regions such as Asia-Pac, it can see location-based directory search likely to take off during 2009, with the launch of services like Rednanos Proximity search in Singapore.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband turned a corner in 2008, particularly in mature markets. Substantial growth levels were fuelled by the growing availability of high-speed access networks, flat fee pricing models, increased Smartphone usage and plug and play laptop dongles. Acision is predicting a nine-fold increase in global mobile broadband revenues by 2012,  but only if operators put the right solutions in place to control traffic volumes over the network. At present, it says, network backhaul costs are already one of the largest cost items in the operators financial sheet, and with mobile broadband traffic levels expected to quickly grow to well over 20 times todays volumes, this poses a serious threat to profitability. If left unchecked, operators will be confronted with network upgrades or backhaul outsourcing contracts running to billions of dollars – a hard pill to swallow in a tougher climate.
Acision believes that long term profitability will only be secured if operators acknowledge this challenge and embrace a firm and clear agenda to tackle the issues. It believes that providers need to embrace an Average Revenue Per MegaByte (ARMB) paradigm, where the main focus lies on raising the profitability per delivered MB, instead of focusing purely on the traditional ARPU model.
Maximizing Revenue Per Megabyte will require operators to evolve beyond todays monthly quota limitations and introduce sophisticated traffic optimisation and policy management capabilities which allow better control over traffic and user access during peak times, says van Zanen. This will allow operators to increase the traffic travelling over current networks, while bringing down the projected billions of additional backhaul investments mobile broadband providers may be forced to make.
In emerging markets such as Latin America, Acision believes service providers will be watching whether recent 3G roll out in these regions will encourage the uptake of mobile broadband where, to date, voice and SMS services are still the most popular services and look to remain so in 2009.

Charging
Acision predicts that the pre-paid charging model will continue to dominate across the globe in 2009, as more users opt for pre-paid phones as the global recession hits and credit is limited. Pre-paid demand looks set to increase in regions such as India and China as well as the US, where a credit check is no longer required to buy a pre-paid SIM card. Therefore, for operators to reduce prepaid user churn, Acision believes they will need to ensure that their charging technology converges voice and data within one system, is in real-time and keeps up with marketing ideas for creating new and innovative offers for all users. 

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