Dear Telecoms: Please Let Me Tether (You will Increase Revenue)


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Telecoms could increase revenue AND customer satisfaction by enabling all smart phones to tether devices to the Internet. In addition, this would simplify the business and technology integration required for personal and enterprise mobile computing. The only question is, “Why are not telecoms providing this already?”

We Live In a Connected World

We live in a much more connected world than we did ten years ago. There is now more than one mobile phone for every two people on the planet. Millions of us live with smart phones. (I love watching people walk down the street whilst staring down at their smart phone.) Anything we buy is expected to be able to connect to our enterprises, the Internet and home networks.

WiFi Is Not Enough

We see seeing a plethora of new devices with WiFi included. This would have been great 5-7 years ago, when the smart phone market was small and 3G could only be across in small footprints. However, it is not enough for today’s user—business or enterprise. We want access all the time, wherever we are. This demand will grow 25-fold within four years.

However, Mobile Is Too Complicated to Leave To Device Makers

Last month, I argued that the new tablet devices needed to have native 3G to be useful for enterprises. This view was too provincial.

Mobile connectivity is complicated. Not only are there many types of services (e.g., 3G, GPRS, GSM); there are even more service providers (e.g., Verizon, Vodafone, AT&T, Orange).

In the last 30 days, I have been in four countries, requiring me to use six different networks from two global providers (and four regional subsidiaries).  I required two different mobile phones and two different wireless cards to successfully navigate this. Asking a device maker to establish both the hardware and business partnerships to navigate this would be next-to-impossible (and cost-prohibitive).

“Outsource” Connectivity by Tethering through Your Mobile

There is a very simple solution to ensuring all your devices can securely connect, anywhere, all the time, for business or personal use: “outsource” this to your mobile provider.  Instead of adding all this complexity to every device, tether all connectivity through your mobile phone.

This is a much simpler solution (it follows the architectural best practice of modular architecture):

  • When I want to connect to my enterprise systems, I tether through my enterprise-provided mobile, inheriting all the security and access controls provided by my enterprise (and tied to my enterprise’s corporate payment plan)
  • When I want to connect for personal usage, I tether through my personal mobile, circumventing the problem of combining personal and business data (or accidentally incurring business charges due to personal use).

This would ultimately increase mobile data use—in both the business and consumer markets—generating much revenue for every telecom.

Better Yet, Let Me Use It as a MiFi Hub

Mobile phone providers could go one step further: enable high-end smart phones to act as MiFi devices. This would remove the need to have cables on hand to connect everything. It would also increase telecom revenue in two ways:

  • I would have a reason to go out and purchase a new smart phone (generating immediate partner revenue and likely renewing service contracts)
  • I would use this to tether more of my devices, consuming more bandwidth (generating recurring revenue)

Hopefully telecoms will provide this functionality sooner than later. (All the people waiting in line for me to unpack and scan my carry-on luggage will thank them as well.)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Haughwout
Jim Haughwout (pronounced "how-it") is passionate about creating technology that improves how people live and work. He is the Chief Technology Architect at Savi Technology and a General Partner at Oulixeus Consulting. His work has been featured by Network World, ZDNet, Social Media Today, the IBM Press, CIO Magazine, Fast Company, GigaOm and more.


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