Mobile operators need to differentiate


The growth of the mobile market over the last few years has been nothing short of staggering. Smartphones and tablets have revolutionised the way people browse the internet, purchase products, network and interact with brands. In September 2009, just 0.02% of all UK web traffic originated from a mobile device, but compare this to January 2011 and the figure is up to 8.09% which represents a growth of over 4000%. If growth continues at the rate it did for the latter part of 2010, then by June 2011 almost 15% of UK web traffic will be of mobile origin.

Device capability and design, mobile network speeds and coverage have all contributed towards the aforementioned rise in mobile traffic, whilst apps and mobile sites have improved the mobile experience by delivering richer multimedia content. This is a trend that will continue as new standards allow web developers to create mobile websites that are increasingly dynamic where the integration of multimedia is seamless and the quality of user experience on a mobile device becomes more aligned with that of the desktop.

As more can be delivered via mobile, so the gap between the casual and heavy user will widen and additional consumer segments will start to appear, thus presenting an opportunity for mobile operators to offer a greater variety of services in order to target consumer requirements more specifically. Whether that be by offering preferential network speeds to certain users or offering over-the-top services to take advantage of the envisioned 50 billion connected devices.

Breaking into what has commonly been referred to as “the Connected Home”, operators could start to offer services like home security, telecare, energy monitoring and home automation all over their mobile network.

This moves away from a model based on quantity of data towards one focused on quality of services, where additional service levels can be built in to accommodate the needs of the various end users. Getting into the Connected Home allows the operator to have a deeper relationship with the consumer, is an additional avenue for upselling and is more likely to improve ARPU whilst reducing the propensity to switch provider. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is a thing of the past and the future is a modular, broader range of connected devices all being serviced by the same provider.

The upside of a differentiated mobile strategy is potentially significant, according to research from analyst Analysis Mason. They believe that differentiated mobile broadband will provide an estimated overall revenue boost of 17% by 2015, driven by a 29% increase in ARPU. In Europe alone, an increase of this magnitude would represent an estimated €2.5 billion in 2015.

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Kevin Meagher is CEO at Intamac Systems. Kevin is a chartered engineer with an MBA who has become recognised as one of the global pioneers of the connected home. Formerly a group captain in the Royal Air Force, he opted for a dramatic career change when he saw how a new generation of Web-based platforms could be used to monitor and control devices in the home. He founded Intamac in 2001 to exploit the technology and launch a range of new value-added services for the mass market. Kevin remains keen on sports and plays squash, golf and soccer – when anyone will have him in the team.