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The Mobile Paradox

Today’s world is characterized by what I call the “mobile explosion”—an environment defined by mobile cloud becoming a platform for delivering everything. It is a world of heterogeneous networks, licensed macro small cell networks, and unlicensed small cell networks (Wi-Fi for example), all seamlessly combined. In this world, however, I believe we are facing a mobile paradox: on the one hand, there is a staggering demand for data from our smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices; on the other hand, the telecommunications industry is grappling with business and monetization challenges around profitability, how to build up these networks fast enough, and competition from over-the-top (OTT) operators.  But, operators are struggling with building the business case and understanding how to make Wi-Fi pay.

The much quoted Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month. In parallel, the use of unlicensed small cell networks (Wi-Fi) for Internet access is exploding as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi-enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Until recently, most technologists and mobile industry executives viewed Wi-Fi as the “poor cousin” to licensed mobile communications.  And they most certainly never saw any role for Wi-Fi in mobile networks or their business. The explosion of mobile data traffic has changed all of that. Most mobile operators now realize that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers.

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In the “Business Models and Monetization Video” in Big Thinkers in Small Cells, my colleagues and I discuss revenue opportunities and challenges mobile operators face today with small cells, both licensed and unlicensed. Mobile operators Read More »

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Reclaiming Mobile Cloud Services from OTTs: Seven Actions Service Providers Can Take to Capture a $60 Billion Opportunity

hagusleoBy Henky Agusleo, Vertical Manager, and Neeraj Arora, Director, IBSG Service Provider – neerarorSingapore

A rapidly expanding, tech-savvy middle class is driving an explosion of connected mobile devices, with close to a billion smartphones and tablets in the world today. These users are looking for new cloud-based “Connected Life” experiences from their mobile devices, creating tremendous opportunities for service providers (SPs). The key is in mobile cloud. The Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) projects a direct worldwide mobile-cloud service opportunity of more than $60 billion by 2016, with an additional cloud pull-through market of $335 billion.

But so far, service providers have not taken the lead in offering cloud-based Connected Life services. That claim belongs to over-the-top (OTT) application developers, content providers, and device manufacturers, such as Google and Apple, who have moved quickly to take the high ground in this market.

OTTs Have First-Mover Advantage

This first-mover advantage has Read More »

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Musings from CTIA

By Bill Gerhardt, Director, IBSG Service Provider

CTIA has certainly evolved a lot over the years. I’ve been attending for a long time, yet, whether in Orlando, Las Vegas, or New Orleans it seemingly takes on a new persona, a new vibe, and a new set of aspirations each year. This year was no different; through the chaos and change, however, I am beginning to see a major trend unfolding. Specifically, I see an industry in flux, one moving from device to application based innovation. What drew me initially to this conclusion was the lack of new designs and features on the floor this year from the device manufacturers. In fact, to some degree, there was even a lack of participation. No Nokia. No RIM. No Motorola.   Instead, there were just a few of the Asian OEM manufacturers and a lot of accessory distributors.

On the other hand, I did see some really cool applications getting attention. Is this the new paradigm? Will unique and compelling apps upstage the efforts of the device guys for attention going forward? Will consumers Read More »

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Insights from CTIA 2012

I have recently returned from sampling the finest of New Orleans hospitality and hanging out with my wireless friends at the CTIA Wireless 2012 conference.  CTIA provides great insights into the wireless industry in one of the world’s biggest markets and technology superpower – the USA.  It’s hard not to compare CTIA with the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  While many of the things that I observed at MWC in February were equally visible at CTIA, I also observed a number of different items, or different slants on where the mobile industry was heading.  I am always amazed and overwhelmed at just how big the mobile ecosystem and economy are.  Unlike MWC, the CTIA show floor had a very healthy representation from all parts of the mobile ecosystem – everything from device accessories, to back-up power solutions, to applications, to CNBC broadcasting live, and many things that I couldn’t understand.  It makes you realize just how big this industry is and how innovation across all parts of the value chain have fueled this phenomenon.

The U.S. wireless industry feels like it is back on top.  Once the leader in innovation and customer demand, U.S. mobile lost much of that position over the last decade as it battled amongst itself on competing 3G technologies.  The U.S. now has 105% mobile penetration and 64% of the world’s LTE subscribers.  Not to mention that innovation in mobile has shifted back to the U.S., with the likes Read More »

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Expanding Universe of Mobile Video Opens a World of Opportunities

Mobile video is exploding at a rate unimagined only a few short years ago. Whereas the quick YouTube clip had been a satisfying enough diversion, consumers armed with next-generation devices now demand the latest bandwidth-busting, 2-gigabyte Hollywood opus. The end user wants it on his iPad, and he wants it now.

For the industry at large, this creates no shortage of challenges. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, by 2016, 71 percent of global mobile data traffic will be video, placing a heavy burden on the network. But along this next frontier of mobile video there are also unprecedented and exciting opportunities.

Read More »

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