Mobile Operators Told To Fear The Internet

from the do-so-at-your-own-risk dept

There's been a ton of buzz this week coming out of the 3GSM conference in Spain concerning the coming wave of fixed-mobile convergence, with VoIP-on-mobile-phones being one area that gets lots of attention. However, if you pay attention to the details almost all of the announcements are about handsets hitting the market. There's very little about mobile operators being willing to offer handsets that will offer cellular service and VoIP service. That's because, as has been pointed out repeatedly, doing so would eat away at their voice minutes. So, remember that every time you hear some analyst firm talk about how big these converged offerings are going to be. That said, there will be some adoption going forward, as some mobile operators will take the plunge in attempts to differentiate their offerings. How far they push things, though, will be an important indicator. With all of that said, it's still amusing to see articles talking up just how big a "threat" the internet is to mobile operators. When you read news articles talking about how something is a threat, smart executives start combing through that threat to figure out where the opportunity is -- because any threat is usually a misunderstood opportunity to open up a bigger market by serving customers better. The real question is whether any of the big incumbents will recognize that -- or if they'll do their best to stomp out any upstarts who try to show them the way.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2006 @ 11:58am

    future of 'cell' phones

    as wifi becomes more popular id imagine wifi phones would become popular, taking advantage of free/cheap wide area wireless networking, using existing voip software (speex on linux = free) to make unlimited dirt cheap calls without any reliance on a specific lock-you-in cell provider

    with the cell networks that are already established these cell companies should refocus their efforts to provide their own wireless internet to more devices(internet over gsm pcmcia cards or something?) and CHEAP INTERNET (rather than extremely expensive and 'against the terms'/unsupported internet access..)

    They can either rely on their old (trap you in)business model until it becomes outdated and overtaken by wifi, or offer the same benefits that wifi is promising to eliminate that threat and gain millions of new customers

     

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  2.  
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    DV Henkel-Wallace, Feb 14th, 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Err, what can they do?

    With all of that said, it's still amusing to see articles talking up just how big a "threat" the internet is to mobile operators. When you read news articles talking about how something is a threat, smart executives start combing through that threat to figure out where the opportunity is -- because any threat is usually a misunderstood opportunity to open up a bigger market by serving customers better.
    Well, maybe it's because I am not in that industry but I really don't see a lot of differentiating value for the carriers (wired or wireless). All I care is that I can reliably and easily make a connection as quickly as possible. It's a pure commodity, like steel or wheat. I don't want to even think about whom I buy service from. I suppose that one of the other can get a temporary edge by improving coverage or lowering cost, but I don't want or value anything beyond carriage.
    More importantly to me: the wireless carriers' attempts to "add value" in fact destroy value. I just subscribed last week to wireless service for a new phone line. I talked to friends and colleagues and then went for the carrier with the fewest drawbacks. That's a pretty terrible way to run your business: when your customers hold their noses when doing business with you!

     

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  3.  
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    Just one guy, Feb 14th, 2006 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Err, what can they do?

    I really don't see a lot of differentiating value for the carriers (wired or wireless)


    Well said.

    Internet is a threat for the mobile operators. No doubt about that. They are very right in being scared, because small scale competitors can cut out big slices of their businesses for pennies.

    The point is that, since Internet on mobile phones will be a bonus for users, then all users, and politicians, and everyone who is not financially involved with mobile operators, must do their best to help this innovation to happen, and mobile operators should be playing fairly enough to allow it to happen.

    But, still, you can't ask them to be happy about it.

     

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  4.  
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    RYan, Feb 14th, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Err, what can they do?

    Acutally in the not too distant future companies are going to be changing the way they handle phone calls. Verizon Wireless is going to an IPBackhaul, where from cell site to switch and to where ever it's going the phone call will be completely digital, there will be no more voice. It will be a data call. Basically it's already happening, but chances are no one will make an annoucement. Besides the majority of the profits these companies make is not from voice but from data. They will be able to reduce costs on the voice end by having smaller equipment and increase the amount of data sent at a time so they will need less fiber and stuff like that. This isn't new.

     

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  5.  
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    mr_c0w, Feb 15th, 2006 @ 12:12pm

    bad for certain operators

    I think this could be great for certain carriers that don't have the coverage (thinly veiled reference to t-mobile) but not so great for carriers that have built out an extensive network. UMA is going to happen regardless of whether the big carriers get on board or not. If the technology works, and is not very expensive to the consumer, then you could see a real shift in customer base to these smaller providers. They have some risk involved, but they have so much to gain.

     

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