Mobile operators are cool (really, they are!)

by Liz Edwards for blog, EMM, IOT, M2M

Few would dispute that smartphones and the smart stuff we do with them is cool, but how many of us would describe our mobile providers the same way? It’s funny that the kudos we lavish on the likes of Apple, Google or Facebook don’t extend to the very people that carry those services and make them available from anywhere. Even a simple app like WhatsApp has a buzz about it that eludes the companies that accommodate the over-the-top service.

Even though you may not notice it, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) constantly innovate, and are not just “dumb pipe” providers.


One reason that their innovation is not recognised is perception. MNOs have given us the most significant revolution in the way we communicate, search out information, and entertain ourselves. But they are essentially seen as a utility service, afforded the less than glamorous status of a gas supplier or electricity provider. You might have signed up to an operator to get a deal on a shiny new iPhone. But is there anything they have done since made you any more loyal?

Apple fans are happy to pay a premium for a device, but I wonder how many of them are as content with their data package or roaming charges.

For all the buzz about cloud, MNOs have been running multi-tenant international-scale systems for nearly 100 years. The cables that carried telegraph and later voice across the Atlantic were laid by operators. Some operators still have their own ‘navvies’ that lay and maintain the infrastructure the internet depends on.

I talk to network engineers all the time who are proud of their underlying wireless infrastructure and only object to the idea that it is seen as “dumb”. They make the point that that the leap made from 2G to 4G data speeds in just 12 years has been spectacular. When you find yourself watching HD movies on a phone it’s hard to argue with them.

Mobile data is their differentiator and it’s something they should be treating as a prize asset.  Their focus should be on enabling customers to use more of it, not scaring them off with “bill shock” and overages. Some of the more progressive operators have already wised up to this and are finding ways to stand out in a “me too” market.

Daring to be different

At Asavie we have been working with operators around the globe, like AT&T, Vodafone and Telefonica. They are playing to their strengths, wrapping additional services around the things they do best. They use our Enterprise Moblity Management solutions to give business customers more control and security over their data packages. It ticks useful boxes for them: they get closer to their businesses by putting a stop to “bill shock”, and they differentiate by providing a mobile data control tool that customers can’t get anywhere else.

We’re not claiming we are going to suddenly make mobile operators cool, but I would suggest that it strengthens the brand in the eye of an important customer segment at a very important time.  Mobile operators have spent the last decade watching voice and text revenues decline and need to reinvent the way they sell and package data if they don’t want it to go the same way.

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