Biography for Keith Mallinson
Keith Mallinson is a leading industry expert, analyst and consultant. Solving business problems in wireless and mobile communications, he founded consulting firm WiseHarbor in 2007.
Articles by Keith Mallinson
M2M and the Internet of Things will create demand growth for mobile network connectivity, but revenue potential is mostly in the broader ecosystem implementing entire solutions and in providing holistic application services, such as in security monitoring and home automation. That might also be worth mobile operators pursuing. More fundamentally, however, they must also ensure they seize network services demand growth in general and accommodate it with corresponding cost reductions right across their networks.
We are currently on the brink of dramatic change and market expansion which might well become as significant as the smartphone revolution, with a large proportion of objects communicating with each other and being constantly connected to the Internet. Many of these will connect through wires, fibre and Wi-Fi, and some will use cellular communications to do so. However, most will also become accessible and controllable by personal mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.
Dramatic structural changes in mobile communications technology supply, with the demise of vertical integration, is forcing those who are developing standard-essential technologies for 4G and "5G" networks to monetise these efforts through patent licensing, as well as their own product sales.
Fundamental changes in demand will be very disruptive to smartphone suppliers. Smartphone vendors that want to succeed will need to make significant cost reductions while also adapting with new product offerings, changes in supply chains, and product distribution.
The smartphone revolution has greatly expanded the size of the handset market with global revenues doubling in the last six years, as consumers substitute more expensive smartphones for their feature phones and basic phones. Yet changes have devastated most of the leading incumbent handset vendors.
Carrier aggregation is a key feature of LTE advanced, delivering more efficient capacity utilisation and faster speeds; but LTE Advanced can deliver so much more, including heterogeneous network capabilities in particular. Coordinating the low-power layer of small cells with the macro network improves performance across the entire network while also further boosting efficiencies in spectrum use and power consumption, automating network configuration and optimisation.
European regulation and competition have already made voice and text roaming affordable and widely used. One way or another, within the next few years, mobile data roaming will also become the norm for the majority travelling to most frequently-visited nations.
Mallinson: Substituting capital for labour--LTE Advanced added and 1,500 jobs lost at Bouygues Telecom
The need to reduce costs is as pressing in France at Bouygues Telecom as anywhere, and yet the company is forging ahead with its 4G investments including its recent launch of LTE Advanced (LTE-A) and will modernise its stores.
The question of whether or not to allow mobile network operator consolidation remains highly contentious and is coming to a head with ongoing competition investigations into acquisition bids and recent statements from public leaders. "Balancing" the interests of consumers, operators and the broader economy in the short and long terms largely comes down to preferences for those who hold power in an environment of conflicting agendas and economic theories with rapid change and significant uncertainties in the sector.
International roaming is a major growth opportunity for operators in the face of domestic market saturation, however tales of bill shock for data roamers do little for operators' reputation with consumers, and are sparking attempts to eliminate roaming fees altogether.