The search for growth

Bill Lesieur, Maravedis
Mobile Internet Supplement

Mobile operators across the world see cloud services as an opportunity to boost ARPU and improve their margins and overall profitability. Their biggest obstacle to the cloud opportunity, surprisingly isn't the OTT players but their own internal challenges, such as establishing a clear business model and setting a company-wide strategy.

These are the findings of a joint Marevedis-Telecom Asia online poll on 4G and the cloud conducted in October. The survey focused on how 4G wireless combined with cloud computing will drive a new wave of innovation and ROI for operator content, services and applications. Marevedis also released a more in-depth study that includes profiles of IT and telecom vendor solutions and capabilities for mobile cloud, and operator interviews (see sidebar: Beyond the handset).

The mobile cloud market is forecasted to grow exponentially during the next five to ten years, but the market opportunity is uncertain as operators, partners and competitors all aim to control the most profitable segments of the mobile cloud services value chain.

The demise of mobile operators by way of the dumb-pipe syndrome has been debated for 10 years as the intersection of mobile devices, 3G networks and the internet disrupted a fairly predictable industry in terms of business models, time to market and the competitive environment.  To support rapid data consumption and future cloud-based offerings, operators are investing in 4G LTE and Wimax as the next major infrastructure milestone.

Mobile operators, however, have to be careful not to try to fix their "dumb pipe" problem with a "dumb cloud" solution by racing into commodity cloud services, providing very low margins and services lacking any unique telecom-related differentiation. Many operators and their vendors are focusing their mobile cloud efforts on the enterprise business market, which is expected to represent the largest opportunity for cellcos.

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