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Intelligent Transportation Systems Require Intelligent Mobile Networks

At the ITS World Congress last month in Detroit, we saw a wide range of intelligent transportation solutions and concepts. The most popular solutions on display –presented by several Auto Manufacturers, ITS suppliers, and Cisco along with partner Cohda Wireless – were simulated and live Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) demonstrations, which showed how vehicles will communicate to each other and to roadside infrastructure in the not-too-distant future. A key goal of V2V and V2I is safety, for drivers and pedestrians, as vehicles will be able to synchronize their movement with traffic lights, roads, toll plazas, rail crossings and of course other cars.

Cisco also showed how Connected Transportation solutions can leverage the intelligent – and virtualized – mobile core network. We demonstrated a [fictional] after-market connected car application (“CarConcierge”) that enables users to remotely start or unlock their car, do a car “health check,” and extract car-sourced analytics over an LTE mobile network. The demonstration showed how the Connected Transportation market will see an explosion of innovative new applications that mobile operators can monetize by providing secure, intelligent, and cost-effective connectivity and process automation to devices and vehicles.

Watch a video summary of the Cisco demonstration: Read More »

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Freemium Business Models for Mobile

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In this continuing series of blogs about Mobile Data Monetization*, let’s look at the Service Provider Freemium business model, which involves offering a basic service for free (indefinitely, or for a trial period) to incent some other subscriber behavior that the operator can monetize. Let’s look at the typical reasons that operators have in offering a Freemium service:

1.) Encourage users to upgrade up to a higher-price, higher-quota mobile data service in order to get the Freemium service. We’re seeing more and more of this approach, especially in conjunction with LTE service offers. For example, in the early days of Verizon Wireless’ LTE roll-out, it offered a free 1-year subscription to NFL Mobile Premium to drive subscriber upgrades from 3G to its LTE data plans and smartphones / Mi-Fi devices. Now, with the adoption of LTE services well underway, Verizon Wireless is leveraging its significant investment in NFL content rights by offering NFL Mobile Premium as a Freemium service to users who opt for one of its new “More Everything” pricing plans. In many markets where mobile data usage is low, some operators have taken to offering “zero-rated” usage of popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for a period of time, usually 6 to 12 months, during which the data used does not count towards the subscriber’s monthly quota. The goal of this approach is to get the user accustomed to using these services over mobile so that he or she subscribes to a data plan at the end of the Freemium period.

2.) Entice users to eventually pay a premium for a more Read More »

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Make Room in the Family Car for the Family Mobile Data Plan

In another twist on monetizing the “Connected Car”, AT&T recently announced that its “Mobile Share Value” data plan – which lets customers purchase a monthly allotment of 4G/LTE mobile data that can be shared among smartphones and tablets used by family members – now allows cars to be added to the list of “devices” that can tap into the same data quota. So far, AT&T has announced 2 auto manufacturers, GM and Audi, will support the Mobile Share Value plan in this way.

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From a consumer standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. Auto manufacturers have sought to bring the consumer app and content experience into the car in some way or another – e.g., by trying to seamlessly connect a user’s smartphone to the car’s entertainment and telematics systems, and/or by creating user-friendly, non-distracting Head-Up Display (HUD) interfaces to these systems. Furthermore, 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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