With the mobile communications sector continuing to expand rapidly despite the downturn, wireless operators are battling to build market share and competitive edge. At the same time, users of mobile services and applications are becoming ever more demanding and sophisticated.
Operators need to focus on broadening customer choice and enhancing the user experience. Increasingly, they are seeking to differentiate user offerings by delivering personalised services that reduce churn and build loyalty. And for many, giving subscribers the opportunity to choose their own personalised telephone number represents a potential source of business advantage.
Sometimes, personalised number choice is driven by cultural factors, sometimes simply by a desire for a number sequence that is easy to remember or has individual significance. The ability to offer this service provides operators with an incremental revenue stream as well as a means of attracting higher spending customers and boosting ARPU. However, as they look to roll-out number choice to prepaid customers, many operators are faced with frustrating restrictions. Often, they are limited to offering the service via a flagship store.
The Sim card distribution model used by most operators means the telephone number is associated with the card early in the process – typically weeks before going on sale. Not only does it have to be paired with a specific Sim card in various systems on the operator’s network, it is often even printed on the packaging. This mitigates against flexibility in number selection.
Fortunately, a new approach has emerged, which allows numbers to be allocated dynamically, providing an opportunity to offer number choice at the time of first use via the handset. Dynamic SIM Allocation (DSA) has access to all numbers available for allocation. A menu containing a series of questions is presented to the user on the handset when the Sim is first activated. This provides a list of available numbers and can also include a search for vanity or golden numbers, corresponding to letters on the keypad.
Because the system is in the operator’s network, users have access through their handset to a greater range of numbers than the retailer has available on-site. To complement this approach, the handset dialogue can be tailored to support a tiered charging structure, which means that operators can more effectively monetise specific numbers. In addition, from the operator’s perspective, the ability to provision numbers at first use means Sim cards in the distribution channel do not tie up numbers until that point.
In today’s competitive mobile communications environment, operators are looking for ways to achieve business edge. Offering prepaid customers the option to choose their own number, through the use of innovative new models like DSA, can help them to achieve this. As we look to the future, flexible number personalisation for prepaid users looks set to become an increasingly valuable tool in operator armouries.