Operators must sell security benefits of LTE over Wi-Fi, says panel

AMSTERDAM--Security is a key means of convincing consumers to start using LTE networks instead of Wi-Fi while roaming, delegates attending the LTE World Summit said.

In a pre-conference panel session on monetising LTE, operators noted that Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure, which means consumers risk exposing personal data including the passwords they have saved on their mobile device when using a public Wi-Fi network.

Torbjörn Pettersson, manager of technical sales and IPX solutions at Telenor Global Services, presented the conclusions of one group of delegates. He said the group had noted that LTE offers a more secure, and personal, way of handling end-users' data.

"If we are cost conscious, it is probably better to stay with Wi-Fi, but there is a lot of information that we share--a lot of sensitive information in terms of using the password, and while we are running and using an open Wi-Fi network it also means that the information is open," which leaves the users open to potential fraud, Pettersson noted.

Pettersson's group also debated new ways to monetise mobile data. Suggestions included offering specific data bundles, such as an email service launched by UAE-headquartered du, which the group noted had been very successful in the three months since it launched.  Pettersson pointed out that consumers sometimes only need a small amount of data, rather than the large amounts the industry typically talks about when it discusses services including mobile video.

Another group of operators debated whether users' data rates should be throttled when they have used up their allowances--particularly when roaming.

One delegate offered the analogy of driving at 90 mph rather than 20 mph. The person travelling faster will burn through their fuel faster, but the group agreed they would rather stop and fill up and continue at their chosen speed than be told they must travel more slowly for the rest of their journey.

Taking the analogy to its conclusion, another delegate pointed out that in this situation, a person is much more likely to pay a premium for fuel at a motorway filling station they would otherwise shun.

Ton Brand, senior director of marketing and industry development at the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), presented the results of a third group, which concluded operators should partner with over-the-top (OTT) players rather than try to compete with them. The group said operators should focus on wholesale revenues rather than retail.

"Create a very competitive package so at least you maintain your voice and your messaging revenue. Don't go down the route of just doing data, because then you've downgraded yourself from being an operator, or a carrier, into being a bit pipe," Brand explained.