(this post was sparked by a recent article about a speech given by the CTO of Ericsson, Hakan Eriksson at the 4G World conference in Chicago)
Network operators have been dealing with tremendous growth in bandwidth requirements for most part of this decade with a constant cry for new business models and ways to be compensated for the increase. I know that this is the crux of the Net Neutrality debate, and this post is not about that. My point is pretty simple: if you want new revenues, you have to innovate to create new value propositions to parties that might be willing to pay for that value.
To their credit, its not easy ! …Network Operators have to worry about several criteria before making changes to their infrastructure, and that is a well understood constraint. However, that does not completely eliminate opportunities to introduce incremental innovations by leveraging gaps in the existing network infrastructure, or imagining new use cases for existing assets. When one reads the common folk lore, it seems like they are waiting for a penicillin to come out of left field and cure all their troubles. In other words, they are waiting for revolutionary innovation to come through and transform their business models.
I would argue that given the debt of legacy infrastructure (both financial investments and a user base), they need to look at evolutionary models to create new value in the mean time.
One such opportunity is providing audience intelligence to the OTT (over the top) players to enhance their applications. Audience intelligence is a broad term and can include (but not limited to) technographic, demographic, usage, behavioral, location, temporal, and other forms of data originated by users, or the network infrastructure. Audience intelligence can provide the necessary context for many forms of personalization on the web — when done in a tasteful and privacy sensitive manner. Another evolutionary service offering can include a network originated privacy protection solution, given the current sensitivities around privacy on the web.
the revolutionary breakthrough may or may not come, they need to look at evolutionary models in the mean time.