What Are Mobile Value Added Services?

Donn Saylor

In the telecommunications industry, "mobile value added services" is a term applied to any benefits — or non-core services — that are offered in addition to standard service. Voice calls and fax transmissions are typical examples of standard content provided by a mobile network operator. Any options a client chooses beyond these basic features fall under the category of value added services. Common examples of these additional selections include advanced messaging services like Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging System (MMS), as well as wireless data bearer options.

A walkie-talkie-style push-to-talk feature is a common mobile value added service.
A walkie-talkie-style push-to-talk feature is a common mobile value added service.

Mobile value added services are obtained in one of two ways. They can be purchased from the mobile network operator with which a client is contracted. They can also be acquired through a value added service provider (VASP), an intermediary content provider that sells additional services.

All mobile value added services have the same distinguishing qualities. First and foremost, they are not basic service offerings, but are additional options that expand a user's communication capabilities. From a technical standpoint, they may work in conjunction with core services, or they may simply function as an added feature that does not diminish the standard services. When a value added service is provided as an accessory to core offerings, they typically charge a premium price.

These services are intended to add value to a telecommunications company's existing service menu. The aim is not to replace the core services but to enhance their features. When a client utilizes a value added service on a regular basis, he or she is also utilizing the core services of the mobile network operator, thus driving up the profits for both the mobile network company and the VASP.

While traditional mobile value added services include any number of advanced messaging systems and wireless data bearer technologies, they can also include voice-based selections. A typical voice-based option is Push-to-Talk, or PTT. PTT operates through mobile phones in much the same way a walkie-talkie functions. When a client is within a specific range, he or she can communicate with someone else on a similar phone by transmitting the voice via half-duplex communications, meaning while one person transmits, the other receives the communication. Many mobile VAS providers offer this option.

Another common example of mobile value added services is location sensitive billing. With this structure, a telecommunications operator sets up specific pricing for the various calling zones from where a client may place calls. Location sensitive billing has shown to be a beneficial option for customers, network operators, and VASPs. Customers can take advantage of special calling rates in various locations, mobile operators profit from any charges that could be gleaned from additional usage, and VASPs generate revenue by offering the service.

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