It’s been a long time coming but the LTE World Summit has finally kicked off! Having survived an unexpectedly eventful flight involving major turbulence the Informa team was relieved for the plane to touch down on the second attempt at landing. Well done pilot.

The hope was that the rest of the conference caused fewer scares, and so far, that’s proved to be the case. Ahead of the start of the LTE World Summit proper, the event started with a Signaling day, which by all accounts was very well attended. It also showcased a new format – the LTE Operator Mind Share.

This involves a series of concurrent round-table discussions led by an operator executive on key topics that are affecting the future of LTE, such as debating pricing strategies around LTE and the roll of Small Cells and Het-Nets. It proved to be a major success, with each topic generating a large number of points. The idea was for a relaxed environment to kick around ideas and generate discussion, so anything recorded here is certainly not the official view of the company’s in question.

My table was led by Simon Best, head of consumer mobile strategy at Orange and the discussion was based on LTE pricing strategies. Will LTE create new services to drive new revenues? The consensus was that due to its faster bandwidth and reliability it might in certain areas such as online games and video surveillance, but otherwise, no – there would be no killer app for LTE. Best referenced the mistaken pushing of video calling as a marketing driver for 3G that most certainly did not work, and it sounded as if he was haunted by this. However, a lower cost per bit and quality of service would be the weapons to attract customers to LTE.

As for Voice over LTE, it also seemed likely that this could not be used to attract new revenue as customers are looking to pay less for voice and not more. However, delivering carrier grade quality could potentially help retain customers over the ‘best effort’ services from the OTTs. Eventually there will be no need to attract customers with minutes – as it will all be data it will be a matter of offering a simple data bundle.

It was agreed by most that charging the same for LTE as 3G was the only realistic way to go, but it would lead to more ARPU simply by the fact that customers will use more data and then move up to a higher tier.

The final thought was the subsidising handsets too heavily would not be a good strategy, another lesson learnt from 3G.

All in all, this was just one of many great discussions and conversations happening in the day: not bad considering we’ve still got the main event to look forward to.

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