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Old 11-12-2020, 11:15 AM
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Upstream Tops Customer Engagement At Questex’s Fierce Innovation Awards 2020

Free ad-funded mobile internet platform recognised for keeping millions of users in emerging markets connected to the digital world

London, December 11th, 2020 - Leading mobile technology company, Upstream, has been selected as a winner in the 2020 Fierce Innovation Awards - Telecom Edition, a peer-reviewed awards program from Fierce Wireless and Fierce Telecom. The competition, an annual celebration of breakthroughs and innovations in telecom services, selected Upstream’s free ad-funded mobile internet platform, Zero-D, as the overall winner in the Customer Engagement category.

Applications from finalists were reviewed by an exclusive panel of executives from major telecommunications companies and analysts, including T-Mobile, Telia Carrier AB, Recon Analytics, iGR, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Experts, Inc., Senza Fili, and Futuriom. All submissions were evaluated based on ease of use, return on investment, effectiveness, technical innovation, competitive advantage, and financial impact.

Upstream’s Zero-D is responsible for keeping more than 250 million mobile users connected to essential internet services once their data allowance has expired. This is critical in emerging markets where a lack of fixed-line infrastructure combined with high mobile data costs often leaves users digitally stranded. Zero-D is an ad-funded platform that operators can automatically redirect customers to once they have run out of data, allowing access to basic internet services and the opportunity to top-up their data digitally if they want. It is Upstream’s proprietary channel, one of the many the company employs to drive user acquisition and engagement while serving as a connectivity substitute in emerging markets.

Kostas Kastanis, Deputy CEO at Upstream, said: “For many who live in emerging markets, a mobile phone might be the only way to way to access the internet. Data can be expensive, rendering important services like healthcare, education and news out of reach for many families who aren’t likely to top up - either because they can’t afford it, or they simply can’t physically access a shop to buy a top-up voucher. This has been especially true during the pandemic.” Kastanis, added: “In an increasingly digital transactions’ world Zero-D helps our partners deliver on their end-users’ connectivity needs. But, first and foremost, our platform is a powerful engagement tool, a revenue generator and a UX enhancer.”

The Zero-D platform provides an important revenue stream for network operators and increases their chances of retaining customers. Kostas Sourtis, Head of Channels & Advertising at Upstream, explains: “In an emerging market, if 100 mobile users run out of data, only 5 of them are likely to top-up immediately. We want to engage that 95% by offering them a useful service and a convenient prompt to top-up their data. With our zero-rated platform, we bring data sales forward for that 95% of users.”

This translates to new revenues for the operators, as with Zero-D they are able to increase their data sales by 2% within a fiscal year, while generating millions of daily ad impressions that they can monetize. “Ad revenue is split between the MNO (40%), Upstream (40%), and the agent (20%) who sells the ad,” said Sourtis.

In South Africa, Vodacom has deployed a customer-branded version of Zero-D, called ConnectU. Over 90% of the operator’s subscriber base has been engaging with the platform, which generates 256 million monthly ad impressions. During that time, users can enjoy access to zero-rated services, including job portals, government websites, educational resources, as well as unrestricted access to the entire Wikipedia database and Facebook Flex, a low-data version of Facebook.

Kevin Gray, Vice President at Fierce Wireless said, “Congratulations to all winners at this year’s Fierce Innovation Awards, Telecom Edition. Our program promotes the competitive spirit and initiative that spurs the design, development, and distribution of ground-breaking solutions. We applaud Upstream’s Zero-D for its success.”
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