91% of Smartphone users globally are concerned about at least one security issue, according to a report from Nokia. The report remarks that many users are not certain in their current approach to mobile security and are often willing to pay a premium for additional protection. For telecom operators this presents a profitable opportunity for the upsell of VAS and increasing ARPU.

In a broader sense, Nokia and PWC remark that telecoms can create a competitive advantage by focusing on security and increasing customers’ trust in their brands. However, providing the right security tools to your customers is only the first step. To establish mobile security as competitive differentiator, operators need to go further. They need to provide support content that ensures that customers will be able to set up and use their new security tools (VAS). Operators should also aim to educate their customers and raise the general awareness about possible vulnerabilities.

Users’ security concerns

According to Nokia, viruses & malware are the main concern of 68% of users. These issues present a serious threat that has affected nearly 40% of users. However, only 43% of users have anti-virus or malware software on their smartphone.

Identity theft and Internet fraud also top the list of users’ concerns. However, in reality those types of security breaches impact only a limited number of the customers.

The most common security issue is spam. Yet, because it rarely causes financial or information damages to users, it is not considered to be a serious cyber-threat. 

Nokia remarks users see the operator as being responsible for protecting them from a wide range of security threats. Combining that with the level of worry, it comes as no surprise that 47% of users are likely to switch operators in the event of a security breach.

Although very few of telecom customers have actually experienced a serious security breach, many are willing to pay additional fees for extra protection. According to Nokia, 40% of users in developing markets and 28% in mature markets are willing to pay a premium for additional security. This presents not only an opportunity for upsell and increasing ARPU, but also, according to Nokia and PWC, a possibility for differentiation. Combining these insights, we have compiled practical suggestions that can serve operators’ differentiation efforts:

  • Operators need to offer their users the right tools to address their mobile security concerns
  • They need to provide support content which ensures that users will be able to use those tools and that they will gain a general awareness about possible security vulnerabilities.

Tools to address mobile security concerns

We have gathered several types of tools that operators can offer separately as Value Added Services (VAS) or as monthly/annual security subscription packages:

  • Anti-virus protection – These applications automatically scan downloads and block malware and spyware.
  • Anti-theft software – This tracks stolen devices and helps users to securely backup their data from the lost devices. It also provides remote lock and wipe capabilities for users’ data.
  • Anti-phishing protection – Apps on Android and browsers as Safari on iOS have anti-phishing capabilities which safeguard users’ usernames, passwords and other personal information.
  • Password protection and management software – These apps are attractive for users who look to securely store and organize their passwords and sensitive data.

Level-Up: How to turn security into a competitive differentiator

Providing the right tools to your customers, however, is only the first step. To establish mobile security as a competitive differentiator, operators need to provide adequate support to their users.

1. Support users during the on-boarding process

According to Forrester, about 76% of the respondents to in the survey use online self-service options more than speaking with support agents. Typically, customers are in need of assistance during the activation of their newly purchased service. Many of them have difficulties in correctly setting up and using their security apps for the first time. This leads to cancellation of the service and general dissatisfaction with operators even when they are not at fault. This is why telecom operators have to deliver to their customers the right support content via the right channel.

In our experience, providing your customers with step-by-step, visual tutorials is necessary to create superior customer experience and establish competitive differentiation. It is also important to create your self-service content with search engine optimization strategy in mind. That is crucial to improve your content findability and optimize the customer support journey when it starts from Google.

2. Explain the security settings of popular apps

Educating users about security settings of popular apps like WhatsApp or Pokémon Go can help operators to set themselves apart from the competition. Step-by-step tutorials showing how to turn on Anti-phishing and Content Blockers in the Safari browser or set up the spam filter in Gmail will help your customers use the security settings in the apps. 

3. Educate users on common security topics

The benefits of raising customers’ awareness on possible security threats cannot be overstated. Due to the high level of concern, security topics are great content for operators’ monthly/weekly blogs and newsletters. Operators’ attention towards customer security can further strengthen the relationship with the customer. 


Focusing on security presents telecom operators with not only an opportunity for increasing ARPU, but also for competitive differentiation. However, providing the right tools (VAS) to your customers without detailed support content could do more harm than good. That is why operators should create support content that guides their users through the on-boarding process. Moreover, educating your customers about common security topics and security settings of the most common apps will do much to strengthen your relationship with them.

Learn more about the best support practices for mobile security issues.

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