Is the future of 4G in the cloud?

Tony Poulos, TM Forum
19 Nov 2009
It seems revenue growth in the future could be clouded. Excuse the pun, but by offering managed services bundled with telecommunications contracts, telecom service providers may be in a good position to take advantage of the growing cloud computing market, whose whole existence depends on fast and uninterrupted Internet access.
Telecom and IT budgets continue to merge with SaaS evolution
We are likely to see merging of telecom and IT budgets with the emergence of software as a service (SaaS) as the new IT delivery model for the small and medium business (SMB) market. Operators like Telstra in Australia are moving quickly into managed application services to better monetize their networks. Telstra is already offering Microsoft online services, including Exchange Online, Office Communications Online, SharePoint Online and Office Live Meeting as a subscription service hosted by Microsoft and delivered across Telstra's next-generation HSPA++ network and its next-gen IP network.
At the same time, software and hardware IT companies and systems integrators are eyeing this space and getting into the business of network-based applications delivery. We could well see infrastructure as a service (IaaS) looming.
But for the SaaS model to really succeed, it will require a low cost base that can come only through a partnership between communications service providers and IT providers. This would be a marked contrast to the existing over-the-top (OTT) models, where content and application sellers utilize the operator networks but bypass them in the revenue chain, Apple's AppStore being a prime example.
For communications service providers, mobile operators and even ISPs, providing everything as a service (EaaS) could be a real lifeline, but it will need a shift in thinking and business models. After all, 4G/LTE is just around the corner, right?
Tony Poulos is revenue management sector head at the TM Forum
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