Leap's Cricket dips toes into world of big data

Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) is exploring how to use big data analytics to help improve the customer experience for its no-contract subscriber base, wading gingerly into the world of big data that larger carriers seem intent on exploiting in the years ahead.

Stefan Spaar, Cricket's director of OSS, told Light Reading that because its customers can leave at any time, the customer experience is extremely important, which is why Cricket is exploring big data in the first place. The carrier partnered with assurance and analytics solutions vendor Teoco to use big-data analytics internally to help with that effort.

Leap does not yet have a full-formed strategy around big data and is working to ensure that it can act on data in real-time. "You want to react in real time, but real time is expensive," Spaar said. "In your architecture and use case analysis, finding out which metrics require real-time velocity and which don't is an important factor."

Right now, Cricket sees big opportunities for its internal marketing, accounting and operations staff to use the analytics tools. According to Light Reading, Cricket currently keeps track of various types of customer of data, including customers' location, travel patterns, app usage, perceived service quality, calling habits, music tastes from its Muve Music service, browsing patterns, interests, social circles and more. The trick is mining that information so that it can be monetized, which raises privacy issues with customers. For now, Spaar said, Cricket is treading lightly. 

Yet the flat-rate player is not the only one using big data. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) last fall formed Precision Marketing, a new division devoted to helping businesses better understand Verizon's customers' data usage. Verizon has compiled data from its millions of customers and is selling that anonymous data to urban planners and others.

Further, AT&T (NYSE:T) Labs researchers have been studying how to use big-data analytics since 2009. In 2011, the scientists gathered billions of "call data records" (CDRs) from over a million wireless users in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. The researchers obtained the data from an unnamed "cellular network" that probably belongs to AT&T. A report about the study goes to great lengths to explain how "cellular customers rightfully have the expectation that their individual privacy will be preserved" and how the scientists took "several active steps to protect privacy" by anonymizing phone numbers, removing demographic information and using only antenna locations rather than specific phone locations. The researchers used the data to analyze travel distances for commuters in the cities, and concluded that that cellular network information can be used to enhance or even potentially replace expensive and infrequent census surveys.

For more:
- see this Light Reading article

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