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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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Mobility Reporting Solution Offers Actionable Data

As an informed mobile service provider, you know that the spread of mobile applications and growth of associated traffic will place unprecedented new demands on your network infrastructure. What you probably don’t know is the specific mobile application usage trends, or how those shifting traffic characteristics may impact specific parts of your network over time.

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In fact, one of the biggest challenges for mobile service operators today is being able to proactively predict and plan for the evolving subscriber traffic patterns on their networks. Communication protocols and consumer applications are continually changing and operators must remain agile -- capable of quickly updating usage policy rules, as the need dictates.

Forward-looking network planning, operations and marketing leaders now demand actionable insights and detailed data that they can trust. Therefore, they now require an adaptable reporting tool that provides insightful reports, so they can maintain a superior quality of service within this changing environment.

Moreover, operator technical staff sometimes feel like they’re flying blind and need a real-time network intelligence-enabled view to help them troubleshoot events as they occur -- thereby ensuring optimal network performance for all subscribers, under all usage conditions.

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Machine-to-Machine (M2M) for Mobile Operators: Lessons from the Market

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology and solutions are helping to create an “internet of things” that will drive productivity and improve lives - for consumers and businesses.  At the heart of this internet of things is an intelligent IP network that enables harmonious collaboration of devices in ways that appear seamless to the user.

Mobile operators in particular are looking at the explosively growing M2M market as a major source of new services revenue. ABI research predicts that the mobile M2M market is set for explosive growth, from approximately 71 million connections in 2009 to 225 million connections globally by 2014. This growth in mobile connectivity to machines ranging from vending machines to automobiles is being driven by a number of factors including, according to ABI research:

  • Telematics (i.e., convergence of telecommunications and information processing) and telemetry (i.e., remote measurement and reporting of information) are seen increasingly across many vertical industries as sources of greater operational efficiency and increased incremental revenue.
  • M2M applications are benefiting from the R&D and the scale of the mobile handset industry
  • Technical advances in air interface standards are enabling new 3G M2M market segments.
  • Government mandates are increasingly requiring the use of telematics and telemetry functionality
  • Mobile network operators (MNOs) are seeking to expand their data service offerings into M2M

Challenges for Mobile Operators

The M2M Market presents some unique technical and business requirements for Mobile Operators. The most obvious technical challenge is being able to provide connectivity to potentially many millions of virtually any kind of device. Additionally, while many M2M end devices transmit only limited traffic and thus do not require high throughput or a 3G connection, other devices have the potential to scale up bandwidth requirements significantly, for example, streaming of video from surveillance devices upon detection of a security event. The looming shortage of public IPv4 addresses is also a potential constraint, with some operators postponing commercial M2M service launches because they need to preserve their IP address allocations to satisfy the continued high growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers.

Operators also need to adopt aggressive new business models to exploit the M2M opportunity. Average Revenue per User (ARPU) for connected M2M devices is much lower compared to mobile broadband subscribers. This can be problematic for operators where an industry indicator of overall financial health is the growth or decline in overall ARPUs. Of course, the number of potentially connected M2M devices is expected to dwarf the number of mobile broadband subscribers. M2M also brings with it specific customer support requirements, often including expertise that operators may not have in key M2M applications such as automatic telematics, transportation fleet management, security and public safety, remote healthcare monitoring, and remote automation for energy and utilities. Lastly, M2M brings with it transnational competitors operators, all seeking to service their enterprise customers with an integrated, global connectivity solution.

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