Monday, June 9, 2014

What do predictions about 5G mean for the Future of Mobility?

With the recent exponential growth of mobile devices, it is hard not to look ahead for the next big thing that will transform technology as we know it.

One current hot topic is 5G. While most industry experts agree it is a ways off, there are obvious reasons for excitement -- including how it will impact the future of mobility, the Internet of Things, and ultimately the Internet of Everything.

If 5G is all that it’s speculated to be, the mobility landscape will be in for a dramatic change , especially as businesses and organizations embrace all that 5G stands to offer such as ultra-fast network speeds and an increase in capacity.

However, while the industry grapples with understanding “just what is 5G” many experts, such as Peter Jarich, Vice President of Current Analysis Consumer and Infrastructure services, declares that it is “more relevant today than you might think” as 5G will introduce new network architectures. In addition, many of the technologies being developed today will be a part of the longer-term implementation of 5G.

Recently, I participated in a new Future of Mobility podcast with Peter Jarich to discuss what IT and business leaders can do today to prepare for the evolution of the 5th generation of mobility and speculate on long-term implications. You can listen to the full recording here.

In this post, I’ll share some of those key insights from my discussion with Peter and discuss why 5G will revolutionize how we define mobility.
Let’s start at the beginning. What’s all the hype with 5G?

Since we are in the technology industry, it’s pretty standard to hype emerging solutions and ideas. However, the jump from 4G to 5G will be similar to the evolution of 2G to 3G, in that it will enable a broad range of new capabilities through lower costs and faster speeds.
We see a lot of buzz words surrounding 5G such “infinite capacity” and “virtualization of the network,” but really, it’s not just about how wireless technologies can be applied to what people are doing, but also how we connect everything to the network in a way to best meet our needs.

In terms of mobility, 5G is an enabler of a new world.
Gartner often refers to a Nexus of Forces – the convergence of four major tech trends: social interaction, mobility, cloud, and information – as a means of changing our business landscape. Today, we are seeing this convergence first hand. And it needs a network to support it. For example, the influx of mobile devices and applications are measuring heartbeats and monitoring brake pads on trains. This capability is being combined with an influx of data – available in real-time through the cloud.

From a network technology standpoint, 5G will continue to connect these capabilities.  It’s hard to predict exactly how all these pieces will come together, however 5G will be able to provide relevant networking – both over licensed and unlicensed spectrums – independent of people managing that process. With this in mind, 5G will be essential to bringing together people, process, data and things in an Internet of Everything world.
So, what can I do today to prepare for 5G?

I agree with Peter Jarich when he said, “You don’t need to wait until 5G arrives to figure out what you can do with it.”

If you’re a retailer, what does this mean?  How do you start running your business differently?  How do you start using mobility to engage with the customers that come in to your store like any e-commerce experience?
If you are a mobile operator, what does 5G mean for your business? In this new 5G world built on heterogeneous networks, how will your business need to evolve to stay competitive?

Regardless of your industry, the future of mobility – and next generation networks – will require every IT and business leader to redefine, reengineer and recreate business models based on the an infrastructure that is a lot more powerful and more pervasive than it is now.  5G isn’t here yet – but it is never too early to prepare and begin building a strategy.
Listen to the podcast: What do predictions about 5G mean for the Future of Mobility? featuring Cisco’s Stuart Taylor and Peter Jarich, Current Analysis.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How Will Mobile Operators Make Money in the Future?

The mobile market continues to evolve at a blindingly fast pace. It seems as though new faster, sleeker, and more powerful mobile devices are launched every day. And new categories of mobile devices are created almost overnight. The number of applications available to run on these revolutionary new mobile devices is staggering, numbering in the millions. The insatiable demand for mobile devices and new bandwidth-hungry applications is generating enormous amounts of mobile data. The Cisco Visual Networking Index™ (Cisco VNI™) predicts that these trends will cause global mobile data traffic to increase 11-fold from 2013 to 2018, surpassing 15 exabytes per month by 2018.

In spite of this phenomenal growth and insatiable consumer demand, many MNOs are struggling to profit from this mobile gold rush. Mobile operators are watching as their average revenue per customer (ARPU) flattens or declines. Despite increasing customer appetite for mobile data, minutes of use in their cash-cow voice business are falling off sharply, and usage of text messaging is peaking. In fact, Ovum predicts that 2018 will mark the first year of revenue contraction in the history of the global mobile market. Following four years of less than 1 percent growth between 2012 and 2017, revenues will decline by 1 percent in 2018, ending the year $7.8 billion lower than in 2017.

This mobile paradox - huge growth and customer demand, yet significant business and market challenges - seems to be unique to the mobile industry. When other industries, such as the automotive industry, face healthy customer demand, they build out more capacity, sell more cars, and reap greater profits. Mobile operators need to build out more network capacity to keep up with the voracious customer demand, but they are struggling to convert these investments into higher revenues and profitability. Much of this business is being lost to substitute over-the-top (OTT) services and to major shifts in usage behaviors. Mobile consumers would rather pay for these OTT services or be subjected to advertising from the likes of Google, Facebook, YouTube, and the App Store, than pay more to mobile operators.

Not only is it a challenging world for mobile operators to be doing business in, but a number of major disruptors are radically altering the entire mobile ecosystem. The rise of software platforms (from “walled gardens” to “walled ecosystems”), the availability of new fast mobile networks, and the Internet of Everything (growth of network-connected devices) are causing significant disruption and uncertainty across the industry. Equally, the move to cloud delivery models (“everything as a service”), the changing industry structure, and the role of regulators are fundamentally changing the mobile ecosystem.

The history of the mobile industry has involved huge and successful waves of revenue growth.  For a long time the mobile industry made huge sums of money from the mobile killer app - voice. However, high or unlimited minute plans and changing usage have meant the end of that growth wave. Messaging provided operators with perhaps one of the highest-margin and highest-growth products of all time, from any industry. OTT applications such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and social media saw that revenue wave crest. Lately, MNOs are watching mobile data access rise to well over one-half of their total revenue, fueled by the insatiable consumer need to connect their mobile devices and applications. However, the crest of this third growth wave is visible on the horizon as the industry disruptors begin to shape a new mobile world.

The question for mobile operators everywhere is, what is this fourth, or next, wave of mobile growth? What are the new opportunities for them to monetize their assets and extensive investments in their mobile networks? How can MNOs continue to enjoy the success and profitability in this new mobile world that they have had in the past?
Questions to these answers can be found in our white paper:  Digging for the New Mobile Gold: The Next Generation of Mobile Monetization

Read the blog on