Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What is a Mobile Operator anyway?

Last night I went along to Mobile Monday in London for the first time - an interesting and well organised event hosted in Google's offices at Victoria.

Amongst the many interesting things discussed, and which I will probably return to in future posts, Ajit Jaokar made a specific prediction that the role of the mobile operator will in time become primarily one of data transmission - "the pipe".

This is in marked contrast to what I heard from Orange, who at their partner camp expressed the view that they would "never be just the pipe, there isn't sufficient value there", and that instead they would focus on being aggregators of services.

This fundamental tension between the operators and the service and content providers isn't new, though now some sufficiently large and well resourced organisations are joining the latter group to make the outcome less of a foregone conclusion.

Also, with the operators no longer simply providing connectivity to mobile devices, but spreading out into wired Internet and digital TV etc, their fundamental strength of control of the cell sites could potentially become diluted.

Will be interesting to see how this one plays out ....

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