Google seem determined to roll out free Wi-Fi wherever possible. In the last month the LinkNYC consortium (of which Google is a member) launched free 1GB/s, advertiser funded municipal Wi-Fi in New York. In the last week Google has also announced plans for free Wi-Fi in India. From Facebook’s planes to Google’s balloons, and free Wi-Fi kiosks emerging where phone booths once stood, data connectivity is becoming an, increasingly free, commodity. And why wouldn’t Google and Facebook want to provide free Wi-Fi, as it means more people using their services, which means more revenue to them.
As Google, Facebook, Spotify and Amazon know people don’t buy and use data as a product. They buy and use data to enable the use of other products – be it video, music, communications, social, health, security and so on.
The reason why I think all the headlines of doom and gloom are rubbish is that operators know they need to change. Many are undergoing massive change to transform from communication service providers to digital service providers. Sure, there will be some who continue just to sell data as a vanilla product and keep adding more data to a bundle and cutting prices. But most operators know that this route is unsustainable. This was borne by research findings from an Openet survey of 101 operators in September 2015, on the Move to Digital. The main findings were as follows:
- Strong possibility that mobile data will be commoditised in the next two years
- The main challenge for operators in 2016 will be the need to become more agile, reduce product lifecycles and get more products and services to market in a shorter time period
- Time to market should be measured in days, not month
- The fiercest competition in 2016 will come from OTTs (Google, Facebook, etc.)
- Operators need to increase frequency and scope of customer engagement
- Operator apps need to offer more functions than real-time alerts and self-care
- When it comes to customer engagement operators are worse than OTTs
- In BSS the main hindrances in the move to digital are lengthy billing transformation projects and legacy system limitations
Let’s look at the last point. Legacy billing systems and a traditional approach to charging could seriously derail operators in their plans to move to digital.
Innovative operators are already taking this route to transform their BSS to cater for digital services. The fast track to delivering value from IT systems is the norm. This is how Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix run their business. It’s how the operators that are successfully transforming into Digital Service Providers are running their business.
Openet’s latest white paper – Charging is Changing: The Role of Real-time Charging in Driving Digital Transformation is now out. Click here to download a copy.