ARPU Uplift for Enhanced 5G Performance? Maybe…

I have always believed that lower-latency mobile gaming services could enhance the revenue of CSPs, especially mobile operators. But I have been skeptical that would be the case for other streaming services. I have now seen the first evidence that BOTH are feasible.

In the mid-1980s, while at Bell Labs, I researched the possibility that enterprise customers would be willing to pay for being able to use "high-performance routes” threaded through the network. I found that NOT to be the case. Enterprises said, “Why should I pay more to get the kind of service that I EXPECT from my network operator, anyway?”

Today, the situation seems to be different:

  • Consumers are conditioned to get good, not great, service from suppliers (but inexpensive, compared to the past).
  • Mobile network performance has become critical for some consumer and enterprise services, especially in live streaming (which needs reliable high bandwidth) and mobile gaming (which needs reliable low latency and low digital jitter).

Recently at an analyst event by Huawei, I got the first evidence that there may be a market for higher-priced variations of these services. Two use cases were presented, already offered commercially in the Asian market, where the users were willing to pay more.

Mobile Streaming

Social influencers who are live streaming need a dependable, high-bandwidth connection to keep dropouts and pixelation from occurring. When the MNO detects a quality problem with the connection, the user is offered the chance to upgrade for a short period to a higher-bandwidth connection, being charged about 20% of the monthly fee. There will also be an upgrade package offered that provides VIP protection and traffic priority, as well as enhanced bandwidth, starting next month.

It seems to me that venues such as Taylor Swift concerts, where many fans live stream the events, offer an opportunity for the promoters to this service. These could be offered in case of problems or a premium service ahead of time.

Mobile Gaming

Remote gaming has, of course, become a major industry. There has been some evidence of willingness to pay for low digital latency and low digital jitter data services in CSP trials.


Is this willingness to pay special to the Asian market? I suspect not, although those markets, especially China and Thailand, are leading in these areas. Will the consumers pay by the drink for better service? Maybe, as evidenced above. I believe they WILL pay more for a high-quality subscription or special events. In many cases, this could be offered in a service package offered by an enterprise to the consumer.

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