Folks we had an interesting session on Mobile Broadband: Devices, Strategies and Consumer Demand at Connections Europe 2010 last week (Nov. 15-16) at Amsterdam, Europe. Stuart Sikes, President, Parks Associates, our moderator, kept the discussions focused with pointed questions. We started off with each panelist given 4 minutes to introduce themselves, their company, and opening remarks about the topic.
Andrew Bielinski from Vidiator spoke about their mobile media delivery platform, Xenon, and its role in enabling rich media services. I agree with him on the utility of such a platform. Clearly mobile operators are looking at ways to participate in the mobile content delivery value chain. Operators around the world have different levels of sophistication, experience, willingness to experiment and innovate. The bigger ones are willing to take on aggregating mobile content and services on their own and offer “branded services” while others are looking to partner and create revenue sharing models. For those operators who also play in the fixed space, they are looking to differentiate their offerings via the so-called “three-screen strategy” where operators let their subscribers experience content on any screen – PC, mobile or the traditional TV set. In any case, mobile media delivery platforms have an important role to play to make sure that all modes of content delivery – streaming, progressive download, download are available for the widest choice of content, to a multitude of mobile end points with the highest quality of experience and resiliency and in a manner which optimizes wireless network usage.
Laureen Cook gave a wonderful exposition of the various on-going activities at ngConnect. Clearly, 4G/LTE is the key driver for such initiatives. I believe the ecosystem of infrastructure, devices, applications and content has opened immense possibilities to create and monetize services across vertical industries. Digital Signage and Mobile LED, if properly networked, and powered with contextual relevance and configured as a means for point of sale offers tremendous opportunities for the retail segment. Likewise, a LTE Connected Car, can access your entire audio-video library from the home media server or over the Internet for the listening-viewing pleasure of the passengers while on the move. These trends open up new vistas for automotive industry where they can offer new services in the “app store” model. E-healthcare and M-health present new revenue generating opportunities for mobile operators. “If Telefonica has its way, your knee will one day call your doctor. In partnership with Barcelona's Hospital de la Esperanza, Telefonica has developed a knee brace embedded with motion sensors that enable physicians to monitor patients' rehabilitation remotely after they've been discharged from the hospital. As they exercise, patients--and there are 200 testing the device right now--watch their movements simulated via a 3D avatar on a computer, which wirelessly sends the data to the doctor for view on a PC or cell phone. Telefonica aims to sell the brace to hospitals worldwide when trials are completed by next year.” (Source: When Body Parts Call the Doctor, Business Week; 4/12/2010, Issue 4173, p54-55, 2p). Machine-to-Machine applications where the broadband subscription, is attached to a device and not necessarily to an end-user is yet another monetization opportunity. Smart metering/grid applications, video monitoring/surveillance, wireless subscriptions added to e-reader devices are some examples of this category of services.
HCL ERS is uniquely positioned to play a major role in this segment by virtue of our work across these vertical industries and a strong competency in telecom & networking .
Arnaud Le Hung from Ruckus Wireless, spoke about the advances in the WiFi space, their 802.11n offerings and its relevance in the mobile broadband. WiFi plays a major role for data offload as well as offers a wireless distribution medium within the home or a hot spot. In this way, WiFi can be seen as complementary to mobile broadband. FMC approaches based on Femto cells and Pico cells extend the offload parlance to apply over licensed spectrum.
Yves Tjoens from ALU, emphasized the applications enabling framework for homes, which provides opportunities for bringing in walled garden and 3rd party content as well as creating a unified FMC environment for the home. He also talked about the impact of increased signaling traffic with the proliferation of mobile devices and the need for optimization in this space. Through embedded proxies in gateways collaborating with control logic in the network infrastructure, a notion of “personal” cloud is realized, where content is moved seamlessly between the mobile, PC and TVs whether at home or outside the home. Elements of home automation and home security can also be addressed in this framework.
There is no doubt, that mobile broadband, offers many opportunities for revenue growth for the mobile operators. My point is that mobile operators have the benefit of 20:20 hindsight. They have seen what has worked and what has not worked. Internet Players and Device manufacturers have leveraged their assets to create interesting business models. Apple and Google have shown the value of ad’s and targeted services – mobile operators can do a lot more by effectively mining all the data they have about the subscriber to create what is a 360-degree view of individuals – who they are, what services they use, where they are and how they are connected at any given time, what roles they play at, how and when they use their services, even to whom they are connected, how much they pay, their lifestyle choices, and their privacy preferences. So beyond offering mobile broadband connectivity services either retail or wholesale, mobile operators can leverage these “SMARTS” in their networks for “SMARTER” service offerings for a much bigger pie of the service delivery market.
The 70:30 revenue shares between the app store provider and developers has been successful to some extent. Powered by high performance application CPUs from vendors such as Intel, ARM and Qualcomm and driven by an “open” OS environment, such as that provided by Android, Symbian, Moblin, Apple iOS, RIM, Windows mobile and others, apps usage has unleashed a surge in mobile broadband traffic and have opened up new revenue opportunities for providers. Higher resolution screens, 3D graphics, combined with higher bandwidth, low latency and differentiated QoS of 4G/LTE - is bringing superior video-rich experience to the end user. This presents significant opportunities for mobile operators. Similar to the “open” environment promoted by device manufacturers and Internet players, mobile operators can expose APIs for 3rd party application enablement. By exposing network assets through open interfaces, capabilities of the network can be leveraged in unique ways for a long tail of software applications for different vertical segments of the industry such as healthcare, automotive, energy utilities, media and entertainment. For example, MVNOs can leverage the mobile operator’s network for creating their own branded services. Media and Entertainment content producers can leverage mobile CDN services to reach their end customers. By creating such arrangements, operators can provide “deep hook” services and secure their position in the service delivery value chain. This has the potential for being a HUGE revenue multiplier for delivered services and gives the operators the revenue growth they need to fix the so-called the Y curve of revenue vs. traffic growth.
Beyond this, services like RCS which provide IM, presence-enabled address books, video sharing have the potential for seeing an uptake with 4G/LTE. OOT Internet services can also be offered with tiered subscription plans, or funded through targeted advertizing. Personalized services that leverage presence, location and subscriber data mining will enable a richer set of monetizable service offerings. Further, mobile operators can have “billing” relationships not only with the end users but also with other market players like enterprises across vertical industries, Internet players, content owners, and others. In this type of business model, known as the 2-sided business model, the operator can have revenue sharing agreements with other providers by exposing its assets like location, subscriber data, presence information, QoS, for smarter, personalized service offerings. Amazon Kindle, sponsored broadband, smart metering, are some examples of such services. Clearly as a trusted provider, mobile operators have an edge over OOT players.
HCL ERS plays in the entire service delivery ecosystem: consumer devices space such as mobile end points, product engineering services space for various 4G/LTE network elements such as eNodeB, mobile backhaul, mobile packet core, offers product engineering for service enablement elements such as PCRF, BSS/OSS, IMS-based solutions and supports application development. With “out-of-the-box” innovative product engineering services, combined with its presence in different vertical segments such as healthcare, media & entertainment, energy & utilities, automotives, aero, financial, retail, and with core competency in telecom and networking HCL ERS can be a prime system integration partner for OEMs who are looking to create and deploy long tail of value added services for these segments for faster time to market. All in all future looks very bright for revenues from mobile broadband, if things done right by the operators.
Content submitted by Deepak Kataria, HCL. To view his speaker highlight, click here.