One Customer, Many Devices

Thanks to Mark DiCamillo of Primal Solutions who posted a very interesting comment to an old blog on assuring WiMax. As Mark points out, our understanding of the relationship between customer, device and network is changing. The usual rule is that one subscriber has one device on one network. This means you can identify fraud by detecting when multiple devices in different locations are using the same customer’s account. But the rise of Municipal Wi-Fi, coupled with the proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices, challenges the preconception. Customers should reasonably expect to keep just one account whilst sharing allowances, charges, etc across multiple laptops, phones and whatever. But whilst customer expectations will force the industry to offer multi-device subscriptions, it poses a big threat in terms of revenues. For a start, prevention of fraud will need to become more sophisticated to stop criminals from posing as genuine customers. But perhaps more importantly, revenues may be seriously eroded by something far less sinister: the natural tendency to share. A large portion of the market may prefer to have one subscription, in one name, but to share the service between husband and wife, parents and children. Mobile phones made it common for everybody to have their own number, but you can imagine that people would be willing to return to a model where there is a single number per household. It may be pot luck who picks up the phone first, but that may be small inconvenience when compared to the reduction in bills. So charging models are also going to have to become more sophisticated to enable telcos to get a fair return when servicing large households. Despite predictions from Arun Sarin and co that flat-rate monthly charges will become universal, there may still be need for telcos to keep counting the usage.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.