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USSD. Playing the money!


There is lot of possible on-line games like Chess, Black Jack or Sea Battle, where it is possible to use just short commands. One command length is just 1-2 bytes and frequency of exchange is just several (5-10) commands per minute. Then we can use USSD as connection protocol for such games.

Then, we have the following situation – once loaded distributive with reach multi-media options is running over USSD and multimedia content like sounds, animations and visual effects are run over short pre-defined commands. This concept fits very well to existing situation with mobile phones on the market, when a lot of mobile phones are with rich multi-media functions (play video and MP3, with JAVA and so on), but poor data connectivity (sometimes just GPRS or even WAP-GPRS only).

By introducing USSD we provide the following benefits:

· Avoid huge IP headers for small commands of just 1-2 bytes

· Stable connection with even poor signal strength. For GPRS (or similar like EVDO, HSPA) it’s a problem to be stable connection when signal power is weak.

· No need turning on GPRS, which leads to

o Power save

o Application usage even if GPRS is forbidden on corporate mobile

o Application running even with no GPRS coverage at present area

But what then we have with income? Don’t worry! There are several solutions to keep earning money:

1. Download game or next stage of the game over GPRS.

2. Download multi-media additions or upgrades over GPRS.

3. Sell applications' management for additional fee.


From product positioning and advertisement point of view, there must be a clear message that offering new type of games where you do not need to use GPRS and no pay for the traffic. Kind of free stuff positioning. And this is true for the game in fact. GPRS is necessary for some options, not for playing, but many people will get it after they have ordered a subscription.

In certain case it can be like this:

· Big font message: 20 online games just for 1 EURO per month.

· Small font message: GPRS/HSPA traffic is not included in monthly subscription.

Depending on the market and the exact application there can be more monthly fee, or free GPRS traffic (which paid by some advertisers, for example). Do not consider this exact 1 EURO from the example above, when will be calculate your own Business Case.


There are some more applications in addition to online games. Main principle for all these is background (non-GPRS) content download, while local application transforming short codes to complete predefined text, and pre-defined pictures, sounds and animations.

For example, services can be the following:

· Get Forex/Stock rates to special application, which then form easy to read text and can generate diagrams. All RSS values are coded in short pre-defined commands and followed just by 3-5 bytes numeric information about current rates.

· Get status from static objects like building security system (or ecological station). All possible situations can be set equal to pre-defined codes and then local application (reach in multimedia) can show which door in home opened (or how blowing some wrong gas, near with eco-station).



If your Network has no USSD or USSD capabilities are quite low, then there is one alternative to have similar non-GPRS service.

Meantime, before explaining this I recommend you to consult your Core Network vendor about price for USSD and possible network upgrade. Vendors always have some smart ideas about how to provide operators with necessary equipment even if there are some cash-flow problems, or ever World Financial Crisis. Check it! )))

So, the solution is to use SMS! The thing is that according to GSM specifications there is some spare capacity in service field of SMS. The length is about 8-15 bytes and such messages are transferring over signaling links, not over traffic channels. Then, if set in application a property, that when mobile device is getting SMS with no content, then application should search for the specific commands in service field of such SMS and block to show such messages in SMS Inbox menu.


You can easily offer new kind of services to your subscribers. Proper advertisement can rise up your ARPU by 1-2 EURO. I suppose you agree it’s quite good income if subscribers base is at least several millions.

Meantime, all the technical components are existing on the market already for a long time! The thing is to develop the service which people waiting.

IMS applications and LTE services are important, but these will bring ARPU increase in their proper time. I hope that examples I have described in this article are seems to be well interesting and you will find a way to raise your income in a short time.


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