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Cisco SPotlight Series – The Year Ahead in Mobility

To address many questions about mobility, I am delighted to share with you our point-of-view through our “Cisco SPotlight Series,” an ongoing course of videos in which we answer questions and provide commentary on many hot topics in the service provider industry.

In this latest video, I reveal what mobile operators and their customers, including enterprises and end-users, can expect in 2015 as mobile Internet networks are increasingly becoming virtualized, and virtualization is increasingly becoming networked. Read More »

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Observations from Mobile World Congress 2014

I have just returned from a very interesting and jammed-packed week at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. More than 75,000 people were estimated to have attended this year’s MWC, and its fabulous new conference facilities proved a great place to celebrate the industry’s accomplishments and catch a glimpse of its potential future.  Much has changed in the industry over the last year since I reported my observations of MWC 2013.  However, what is most remarkable is how the boundaries of mobility continue to expand and morph – everything now seems to be mobile?

The following are my personal observations and extrapolations from the show, based on my conversations with operators, customer meetings, analysts, and colleagues, as well as from simply walking the show floor: Read More »

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Creating a Wi-Fi Monetization Virtuous Circle

In the decade or so that Wi-Fi has existed, most technologists and mobile industry executives viewed it as the “poor cousin” to licensed mobile communications.  Now mobile operators around the world are asking how they can effectively use Wi-Fi to help them cope with the huge surge in mobile data traffic and to meet customer needs and expectations.  In addition, they are all eager to understand how they can make money from Wi-Fi and to make the business case to justify investments in deploying Wi-Fi networks.

As many leading SPs are now discovering building a Wi-Fi network creates not only significant business value, but creates a virtuous circle that leads to ever-increasing sources of new Wi-Fi value. As the Wi-Fi Monetization Virtuous Circle outlined below shows, the reinforcing network and scale effects of Wi-Fi investments not only deliver unique business benefits at each of the levels, but also establish a valuable platform to exploit additional monetization opportunities at the next level.

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The Path to Wi-Fi Profitability

The insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating staggering amounts of mobile data and placing a crushing burden on networks. One barometer is the recently released Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), which predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month. The study also predicted that two-thirds of all mobile traffic will be video by 2015, and an additional 20 percent of this traffic will be devoted to both the mobile web and mobile data.

In parallel, we are witnessing a “perfect storm” in both Wi-Fi availability and customer acceptance that is resulting in a worldwide rise in the popularity of Wi-Fi. Consumers can now readily use their numerous Wi-Fi enabled devices in their homes, offices and increasingly in many of the other places where they spend their lives. Mobile users are actively searching out Wi-Fi connectivity as a cost-effective and adequate substitute or complement to mobile access to the Internet.

Based on this Wi-Fi “perfect storm” and the explosion of mobile data traffic traversing their networks, Service Providers realize that they now need to pay attention to Wi-Fi. In our conversations with SPs around the world they now recognize that that Wi-Fi is more than just data-off load and needs to be Read More »

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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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