Current business models for mobile data do not enable operators to gain incremental revenue for increased usage without users being hit for large bills that are seen as an aberration - and a deterrent.
At Mobile World Congress 2009, mBlox announced the first cross operator "˜sender-pays data' trial as a way of guaranteeing that the price advertised is the price consumers pay for content, regardless of their network or tariff.
The trial is testing a business model for the mobile industry, which allows content and service providers to bundle together the associated data costs for the purchase of mobile content, on behalf of the consumer. It will enable consumers to purchase data-rich content with the data cost included at the point of purchase.
Four content providers have joined the trial:
"¢ Fox Mobile Distribution, part of Fox Mobile Group - launching trials offering customers zero rated games and music services http://foxmobile.com
"¢ ShortsTV - Mobile video on demand http://www.shortsinternational.com/
"¢ Creative North - UK local authority funded educational application http://www.creativenorth.co.uk/
"¢ Incentivated - mobile video drama called 'Thmbnls' for the Department of Children, Schools and Families' http://www.thmbnls.co.uk/
This trial is especially important for educational and public sector initiatives, which are increasingly recognising the power of the mobile to engage. Public sector and charity bodies cannot distribute or encourage the download of mobile content when they cannot guarantee how much it will cost users to download.
For example, the mobile video drama from Incentivated, Thmbnls, is a series of weekly episodes that download straight to the mobile and highlight the importance of safe sex to teenagers. The success of this initiative would be hampered if consumers were to receive high charges on their bill having downloaded the series onto their mobile. The "˜bill shock' would be enough to hamper or even destroy the campaign.
Enabling consumers to download large pieces of content, like videos, games and full track music, without paying a data charge is a unique proposition that has the potential to positively impact on the entire mobile content industry.