Innovation is not just about partnerships, pricing and products

Written by on August 29, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

InnovationWe seem to have become addicted to the notion that innovation in the digital world, particularly when it comes to operators, is about being creative with pricing. We focus on partnerships with digital service providers, content producers, gaming companies and music channels. Yet innovation can come from thinking outside the box and trying new things at a more fundamental level.

Two operators from the UK are doing just that.

Scotland – headquarters of the DisruptiveViews crew – is a strange, but interesting place. It rains most of the time, except when the Publisher decides to go to Canada, when there is a heat wave – until his return. And when it doesn’t rain, it snows.

It is also very like many emerging economies in Asia, geologically. It has bustling cities, and then, not far outside them, mountains, and quite big ones. And very few people.

This provides the impetus to think outside of that box.

UK operator EE, in partnership with Nokia, is using drones to test whether the company can deliver LTE to remote parts of the country. The answer seems to be yes. Delivering LTE via a drone obviously poses a few questions, such as how long can the drone hang around, or does it come and go, or is this just for large events (Highland Games) in the mountains. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that operators are doing these kinds of things, and potentially it means that it is not just Facebook and Google who will be delivering the internet from on high in remote parts of the world.

Although less obvious, regulation can also provide the stimulus for innovation.

The abolition of roaming charges from next summer has had a lot of attention. And we wondered whether there was scope for someone to take advantage of the inevitable and scrap artificially high roaming charges ahead of time in order to steal a march on competitors.

Again, a UK operator has stepped up, in the form of Three.

They were, in fact, already running their promotion ‘Feel at Home’, but from next month they are extending it to another 24 countries. The move is, perhaps, even braver than it first looks, because we still do not know what the impact of Brexit will be and whether the UK will now be affected by the abolition of the charges.

Whilst revenues from roaming in Europe are expected to drop by 28 percent, the theory is that this will be made up for by new revenue streams, enabled by a better knowledge of where your customers are and what they might need.

There is, of course, no need to stop thinking about innovation in pricing, with or without partners, but it is refreshing to think that CEOs of operators are trying new things to bring fundamental connectivity to more people.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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