It first became possible to access the Internet on a mobile phone in the early 2000s, using the Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP) standard. Ever since then Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have been seeking ways to add value to their core data service and thus avoid becoming a commodity bit-pipe provider. Early attempts to control the revenue stream involved creation of a portal (or walled garden) that would, in theory, provide all the revenue-generating services a customer might need. But digital services provision was never a core competence for MNOs – upstarts such as Google and Facebook, were much better placed. In any case, the open architecture of the Internet was always going to ensure that WAP portals went the same way as dial-up walled gardens like CompuServe (eventually bought by AOL).
But the creation, analysis and application of location data is a core competence for MNOs. Mobile networks depend critically on location information to provide the coverage and capacity needed to serve customers with data, messaging and voice services. And as 5G gets closer, faster and more sophisticated location analytics will be required to monitor network performance and assure service levels. So, there is a clear logic to Telefonica’s acquisition of location data start-up Statiq. Telefonica has the data, Statiq has the analysis capabilities, together a powerful combination.
Moves such as this give MNOs the a very real opportunity to deliver added value and counter the recent trend towards commoditisation.
Andrew Keevil assists technology companies with strategy and marketing, specialising in new proposition development.