Roundup of second Mobile Breakfast Series event – Mobile Broadband

Roundup of second Mobile Breakfast Series event – Mobile Broadband










The second Mobile Breakfast Series Event was held at the picturesque Harbor Club in downtown Seattle on Dec 4th. The topic was “The Impact and Evolution of Mobile Broadband.” The lineup of speakers was awesome with who’s who of the mobile broadband world opining about the state of the industry, the opportunities, and challenges posed by the growth in mobile broadband:

Neville Ray, Senior Vice President of Engineering, T-Mobile USA

Hank Skorny, Senior Vice President, Media Cloud Computing and Services, Real Networks

Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave

Dow Draper, Vice President, Technology Partnerships, Clearwire

Charlie Martin, Wireless CTO, Huawei Technologies

Stacey Higginbotham, Senior Writer, GigaOM (moderator)

First of all, a big thanks to our generous sponsors: Motricity, Openwave, and Clearwire of supporting the event series. I am happy to report that Motricity has signed up to be the sponsor for the entire 2010 season. So, thanks Jennifer Moranz and Brendan Benzing. Thanks also to Ken Denman and Lupe Downing at Openwave, and Jeff Giard and Scott Richardson at Clearwire for their support. Thanks also to our esteemed panelists who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to be here with us this morning, esp. Ken, Charlie, and Stacey who had to hop on a plane to be at the event. Also, thanks to GigaOM and Moconews for being such terrific media sponsors.

As our operators continue to enhance the infrastructure both in the US as well as abroad, it is creating new opportunities and challenges for the industry. As you know, our friends at the FCC are also very consumed by the task of creating a National Broadband Policy and mobile is a key component of that proposal.

It was one of the best discussions on mobile broadband I have heard all year long. Panelists were really frank and insightful.

The salient points of the 90 minute discussions were:

  • The disparity between the available bandwidth and the bandwidth demand is becoming apparent and the industry is scrambling to find solutions to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Even at these high usage rates, mobile data is quite profitable for the operators. Vendors typically don’t a full grasp of the carrier economics and end up making some product choices that are not that directly relevant or useful for the carriers.
  • Consumers are willing to pay more for better access, higher speeds, and good content and significant opportunities await us in the coming years.
  • There is no such thing as “free lunch” and someone has to pay for the bandwidth. Sometimes it feels that the pie is not big enough to feed all the hands that are the in the revenue share pot.
  • Spectrum and capacity is king and whoever has a good spectrum tends to benefit competitively.
  • Out of necessity, companies come up with innovative solutions e.g. T-Mobile focusing on WiFi in the early days when AT&T didn’t want to touch it and Verizon mocked it. Now WiFi is central to their mobile data strategy.
  • Traffic from non-phones will exceed that from the typical feature and smartphones.
  • Business and revenue models that will help sustain the industry are going to come from outside the industry.
  • With so much at stake, carriers will figure out ways to participate the appstore value chain.
  • Browsers have shattered the control of the ecosystem and we are just at the tip of the iceberg.
  • We will soon see the return of the tier-ing price plans. QoS will enter the picture soon. Likely to have platinum vs. gold service concept emerge
  • Solutions – mobile analytics, video optimization, traffic shaping – it comes down the “art of delivering a packet”
  • Apps are not a zero-sum game.
  • There will be a metamorphosis of physics and economics of mobile data, new group of players will emerge.
  • Carriers have historically not done a good job of picking winning applications but they will figure ways to participate in the new ecosystem.
  • Compared to the online Internet market, mobile Internet market is quite nascent and we are expected to see significant opportunities emerge in the next couple of years.
  • While iPhone has been a great device, it is the Google applications that make it so popular.
  • Presence, social networking, and connectedness will all help in creating a brave new world of mobile data services.
  • More Carrier branded solutions to come.
  • If carriers are cut of the revenue stream, they might have less incentive to upgrade their networks.
  • Technographics, Psychographics, and Demographics data very useful for application developers and we can expect operators to open up consumer information gradually for the ecosystem.
  • Some see Android getting more closed with each release, OEMs need to open up the device for app developers to take full advantage of capabilities.
  • T-Mobile has been rapidly expanding their 3G footprint with expected coverage increase to 200M by end of the year.
  • The levers operators can use to control data usage – pricing, QoS
  • FCC’s action is having a positive impact on the industry though we need a lot of work (and a lot of spectrum)

Also, Tricia Duryee does a good summary of the discussion at Moconews

Our next event is looking to be another sellout affair with tech titan Rob Glaser, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Real Networks headlining the event. Be sure to register early to avoid any sellout blues. Date: March 10, 2010.

Until then, a very happy new year to you and yours and have a terrific holiday season that helps you prepare for a successful 2010.