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Operators benefit from sponsored data charging


Sponsored data charging presents a vast opportunity for mobile service providers to take advantage of new revenue and monetization streams. More than just free Internet, it lets operators tap into a growing ecosystem of application marketers and advertisers. With users spending more time with their mobile devices than in front of the TV or desktop, the time is right for service providers to engage.


The traditional charging model for data usage has got to change. LTE has evolved to become the predominant technology for mobile broadband providers -- generating an average data volume per user of 168% higher than 3G data – and providers recognize their customers are balking at the increased cost of service. Sponsored data charging is 1 charging model that’s growing in popularity.

Sponsored data charging lets mobile subscribers view, stream, and benefit from sponsored content -- and use applications over the mobile service provider’s network -- without that data usage being charged to their monthly plan. Instead, the data charges are paid by the 3rd-party provider owning the content. Even more importantly, a subscriber can test out certain sponsored applications and features for a short time to determine whether to subscribe, without impacting monthly data-plan limits.

Not only is sponsored data charging built for massive broadband usage from all kinds of connected devices, it also can support emerging technologies such as VoLTE and NFV. Key target industries include:

  • Advertising
  • Retail
  • Media
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Financial services


Sponsored data charging requires flexible charging and rating models. One example is zero rating, where an application provider or 3rd party pays for subscriber data consumed by the specific application or service. This also includes data rewards, where users are rewarded with additional buckets of data to extend their data plans.

For example, a mobile app developer could pay the mobile service provider a negotiated rate so the subscriber can use the app without worrying about data usage and overages. Zero rating data supported by advertising is a variation of this type of data plan.

Another example is where a marketer provides a customer with a data reward as a bonus for making a mobile purchase, trying out their service, or for lead generation. Depending on the use cases with 3rd parties, the real-time charging system needs to ensure accurate charges to the sponsor rather than to subscriber accounts.


Sponsored data programs are proving to be an effective method of both monetizing mobile data consumption and attracting new subscribers globally. To take advantage of this growing opportunity, Alcatel-Lucent is collaborating with Aquto. Using the Alcatel-Lucent SurePay® platform, Aquto lets mobile service providers rapidly roll out data sponsorship programs including data rewards and zero-rating of mobile apps/content. As shown in the diagram below, the service integrates with the existing IT infrastructure. And with minimal investment, it lets mobile service providers monetize almost immediately by leveraging a global network of sponsors including application publishers/developers, advertisers, and marketers.

Aquto offers 2 programs for mobile service providers: Cloud-based sponsorships and a service provider user-engagement application.

  • Cloud-based sponsorships - To enable zero rating of mobile content or offer data rewards to subscribers, app publishers/developers, advertisers, and marketers can leverage easy to integrate capabilities to keep users connected with their content and services.
  • Service provider user-engagement application - In an increasingly competitive market, mobile service providers have to devise new ways to keep users engaged. This app provides a destination for subscribers looking to discover apps and services, offers from advertisers through which they can experience the benefits of zero rating and data rewards. The app draws users in and provides operators with the opportunity to engage users in a positive setting.

The combined expertise of Aquto and Alcatel-Lucent – including experience working with mobile operators -- has let leading mobile service providers rapidly roll out sponsored data charging services. The collaboration takes advantage of Aquto’s deep understanding of the digital marketing ecosystem and combines with Alcatel-Lucent’s policy and charging expertise.

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Barbara Sampson

About Barbara Sampson

Barbara is responsible for marketing/marketing communications for the Alcatel-Lucent P&C portfolio, which includes policy management, charging, and diameter signaling. For years, Barbara has supported a number of marketing-related functions across the company, including market research, competitive intelligence, strategic planning, demand generation, and business development. She holds an MBA specializing in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor of Science degree also specializing in Marketing from Rider University.

Thomas King

About Thomas King

Thomas King is the business manager for the Alcatel-Lucent Policy and Charging portfolio, with strategy and operational responsibility for engagement with Alcatel-Lucent’s partner ecosystem. This global partner community includes systems integrators, technology and value added service partners who expand Alcatel-Lucent’s customer reach with innovative solutions and services based on the power of Alcatel-Lucent technology.

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