Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mobile Infrastructure: Rethinking Roles

Swisscom CEO, Carsten Schloter (Credit:

As this year's Mobile World Congress wraps up, it's important to consider the ever changing roles that providers, phone manufacturers, app companies -- and yes, even consumers -- will find themselves in. This holds true for long term developments, but for most of us, more importantly, it's the short term developments that are important to consider.

As ClickZ reports, wireless providers and carriers are already starting to look at their changing roles. They are well aware of the booming demand for data, and they know they need to do something about it. That means investments in infrastructure, and as the site notes, that means companies will be looking to monetize other parts of their industry.

This "more-with-less" attitude is something that Rene Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, believes is possible. Of course, it will likely come at the cost of policing over-the-top apps like Skype and Viber. We previously reported on this subject, and it would appear that these app manufacturers believe that, no, it is the responsibility of the telecoms to invest in infrastructure, as they're the ones that own these networks.

So, who is actually responsible for investing? Is it the telecoms who own the current infrastructure? The  app manufacturers who have been piggy-backing their way to major profits? Or perhaps it's the small cell start-ups that are providing alternatives to full station data relays? And more importantly, what does it mean to consumers like us in mid-Missouri?

The first set of questions is not easy to answer, and governments and multi-billion dollar companies are attempting to parse it out as I type this. Responsibility is a tricky thing to assign in industry, it would seem. However, the question of what it means for consumers is clearer. First and foremost, with the rise of small-cell companies and the investments being made by telecoms now, consumers can expect better data service. This already holds true for countries like China were over 200,000 small cell relays exist, as well as the U.S. which will see increased capacity for data in the near future.

Additionally, as phones become more integrated with the idea of data usage (as we also reported on, in the case of NVidia's new chipset), data will become easier to come by from both ends. But, will this come with higher prices? Maybe at first. In the long run, investment in infrastructure is beneficial, however, and those benefits will likely be passed on to the consumer as savings. And if small cell data structure is successful, you could be seeing telecoms investing less, but snapping up the chance to buy these more local providers.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to a quote that one Russian attendee for the MTS group tweeted out. The following quote is from the CEO of Swisscom, Carsten Schloter, and I believe it accurately represents what the future of mobile infrastructure is all about:

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