February 24, 2012 | Written by: Malcolm Nicholas
Categorized: Mobile World Congress
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After many years of waiting, many of us now find ourselves in an interconnected world able to access the Internet, our content and cloud services at home and work, when commuting and travelling, any time of the day via a myriad of devices. It has never been easier or cheaper to get online, the range of things you can do only limited by our imaginations and the value created shown with one of the leaders becoming more valuable than the world’s most valuable energy company.
Yet in a strange juxtaposition, the mobile network service providers that enable this very world are struggling to remain high growth, high value companies. Some think the answer lies in better tariffs, others that controlling and restricting what customers consume will help. Some have tried building bigger pipes, others buying or creating imaginative new services and bundling new and old services together. All have tried to understand their customer better.
Each has had varying levels of success but I would argue that none of these approaches has changed the fortunes significantly and sustainably of mobile network service providers. However with a billion smartphones driving mobile cloud services and 50 billion machines about to join in, there is hope and opportunity.
Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). With global teledensity >100%, adding more connected users is likely to provide diminishing returns. For mobile service providers to create more value they need to create a network that is valued for more than just connectivity and QoS.
At IBM we think that by making the mobile network smarter, by having compute capabilities available in the network at each layer for each node in the network, the value of the network could be raised by one or more power. It happens every time computing is added to an eco-system, for example mainframes, PCs, cars, jet engines and most recently mobile phones. Now at IBM we are working on doing the same for mobile networks.
Today across mobile networks client-server models are used with browsers and applications accessing distant web and enterprise servers with all the latency and cost issues that creates. Imagine the possibilities of a multi-tier application eco-system using the network as the compute and transportation platform. No need to deploy millions of smart meters in every home and business and vast clouds to process the data, just low cost mobile modems built into and sold with every device and all the processing done in a smart mobile network between the device and the power station.
The same computing capabilities in the network will be also used to improve quality of service, optimise capital investment, create new services, charge different tariffs and understand more about the customer in real time than ever before.
In an instrumented, interconnected, intelligent world mobile network service providers have an unprecedented opportunity to significantly and sustainably change their fortunes and content for all our content by making their mobile networks smarter.
If you want to know more, me and my colleague, Zygmunt Lozinski, will be speaking about this at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on the Mobile Cloud: Contending for Content panel. To learn more about how IBM is helping to make networks smarter, go to our IBM Communications website.