Sunsets are among the most pleasant things in our world – beams of light casting a mix of ever-changing colors across the sky as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon. They are the triumphant end to the day that heralds the approach of night and foreshadows the bright rays of the new day to follow.
But for many of the world’s unconnected, there is a different type of sunset on the horizon, one that threatens to widen the connectivity divide and leave them in digital darkness even as 4G and 5G networks deliver increased coverage and access to the internet through mobile broadband networks.
As momentum grows for 4G and 5G networks, mobile network operators (MNOs) are beginning to shut down, or sunset, their older 2G and 3G networks, reforming and re-licensing the spectrum while also realizing significant cost savings. In many instances, the push to sunset these older networks is being encouraged by national governments, with many countries mandating the shutdown of legacy networks between 2025 and 2030. While in many countries, this sunsetting will hardly be noticed, in some regions of the world, such a drawdown could prove detrimental to the poorest segments of society.
4G networks account for slightly more than 50% of global mobile connections and are starting to overtake 3G network adoption. This rise in 4G has helped reduce the coverage gap, bringing internet access through mobile broadband networks to roughly 97% of the world's population. But there is still a long way to go. Even as MNOs work to move their subscriber base from 2G and 3G networks, many are not willing to part with their current feature phones due to the relatively higher cost of a 4G replacement as well as the cost of availing digital services.
The Challenge – Customer Retention While Bridging the Digital Divide
For the world’s unconnected, one of the major barriers to mobile internet adoption remains the affordability of handsets and data plans. For many, even a $20 phone is a significant cost, and an entry-level internet-enabled phone can account for 120% of the subscriber’s monthly income in some parts of the world.
A GSMA study found that 86% of smartphone users regularly use data for mobile internet access and were more likely to utilize more mobile internet features, compared with only 12% of lower-cost basic phone users. Even with lower-cost devices, these subscribers use very little data and do not see their phone as a device to connect them to the internet or the rest of the world. As a result, MNOs often face a difficult challenge in getting these users to mentally transition from merely using their phones for voice-only functions to adopting a new and richer digital lifestyle.
Replicating Jio’s Success
As the global 2G and 3G sunset progresses, there is uncertainty among operators regarding how to migrate and retain subscribers during the transition. Radisys has successfully ushered many operators through the same evolution all around the world. Radisys has the expertise to solve complex communication and deployment challenges. Backed by the strength of its parent company, Reliance Industries Limited’s subsidiary Jio Platforms Limited, Radisys employs proven best practices to help MNOs plan and successfully execute 2G and 3G subscriber migrations.
Without an affordable option for customers, successfully transitioning subscribers from the legacy networks to a 4G network will be virtually impossible for MNOs.
To make the transition attractive, MNOs must disrupt the market and dramatically improve the user experience. They need to keep users connected and informed; find ways to build emotional connections through enhanced capabilities such as video calls with family members; and promote internet usage with easy-to-use, consumable apps and digital services.
4G Handsets Accessible for Everyone
Providing an affordable handset is central to the disruptive plan. Unfortunately, when many subscribers hear about affordable handsets, they often think of the cheap, low-quality handsets that have flooded the market. These substandard options regularly use inferior materials and are poorly constructed, have poor battery life and offer limited features.
Radisys offers a full suite of high-quality, affordably priced handsets aimed at migrating 2G and 3G users to 4G and introducing a full spectrum of digital capabilities that will grow MNOs’ revenues while elevating the customer experience. Radisys’ handsets deliver:
- A mobile network operator (MNO) brandable device that builds association and loyalty to the MNO with best-in-class quality and performance that is priced for the masses.
- An available selection of habit-forming applications, exclusive media bundles and a customizable user interface to distinguish an MNO’s brand.
- Superior economics to maximize MNOs’ return on investment .
- An improved user experience that leads to greater subscriber retention and customer delight.
While all these elements are helpful for MNOs, the Radisys portfolio of handsets also provides a familiar feature phone device for consumers that unlocks a simple path toward a more robust 4G experience while saving them the anxiety of learning and engaging with a new and unfamiliar device. Whether the handset is a lite version of the Radisys smart feature phone that delivers voice and basic texting and a starter 4G device experience; the Radisys smart feature phone that brings leading-edge features and capabilities including video calling as well as video on demand and music streaming; or the Radisys smart phone with full touch screen capabilities and a range of smart phone apps, these Radisys handsets are premium quality devices priced for the masses.
Ultimately, MNOs can help their subscribers migrate to 4G networks by offering an affordable smart feature phone that meets their customers’ needs. But that is just the start of the disruptive plan. Working together, Radisys’ proven success and affordable handsets can help MNOs secure their current subscriber base and transition them smoothly to a 4G network.