The past few years saw the growth of a new industry, the Mobile Content Provider (CP). Like the ISP’s of the 1990s which resold telco facilities, today’s CPs resell mobile capacity. CP’s are the companies which provide on-demand and subscription SMS and MMS services, whether for serious information or entertainment, in exchange for a percentage of the mobile charge.
At one point within the evolution of the GSM mobile business, the providers decided that external companies should provide the content services. It could be because the business processes and attitudes of telcos – traditionally slow and conservative – don’t fit well with the agile methods needed to provide services to fickle consumers.
Subscription services are by far the largest component of a CP’s revenue. A marketing campaign could make on-demand services spike, but to produce consistent sales, the business needs daily delivery. This is where subscribers get their daily messages, SMS binary content – ringtones, picture messages and operator logos – and MMS – polytones and realtones. The sender gets charged when they receive the message – Mobile Termination (MT) charging.
The local mobile business is predominantly prepaid. While the charge can be deducted from a postpaid users’ account, that convenience is not available to prepaid. Instead, the charge is immediately deducted from their load. When mobile content systems started out, subscribers without load were delivered the content but not charged. This is unacceptable from a business standpoint since users get free content.
To counter this flaw, the local telcos devised schemes where the content providers are notified if the content cannot be delivered for lack of load. The CP and the telco’s revenue assurance group and related business groups can monitor the percentages of subscribers who actually pay for the content.
The telcos also ensure that the CP delivers the proper content, at amounts and schedules that don’t deviate statistically from the trends. Before a service is launched, it needs to be specced out with projections, to ensure that it is profitable for both parties. The cost of sending the SMS is not charged to the CP, as is common in other countires, but instead charged to the user and is recovered by the telco as part of their share.