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Mobilize 2010: Data Networks Are Getting Smarter

The key to generating value from telecom data networks is the ability to understand the context of the users on those networks, what they are doing and what they want, Openwave Systems CEO Ken Denman told the GigaOM Mobilize conference today. Denman also said that in his view, the term “mobile” will cease to mean anything in terms of describing a specific industry segment, since “everything is mobile and everything’s connected, all the time,” if not now, then in the near future.

The opening slide of the Openwave CEO’s presentation quoted Ericsson president and CEO Hans Vestberg as saying that in 10 years, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the web. Most of these, Denman said, will be machines talking to other machines, or informing users and other monitoring systems that they are turning themselves on or off, and so on. But there will also be millions and millions of always-connected mobile users, he said, and understanding the way they are using data networks is crucial for service providers.

[inline-pro-content] On a mobile network, “context is king,” Denman said. For a network provider, the ability to know that a specific user is female, that she lives in New York, that she uses a variety of social networks and services, and that she is outside a movie theater can be very valuable — because the provider can then make decisions about what kinds of content to send to that user, and offers or features she might be interested in. Then “the user can choose the most relevant content to her in a way she wants, so she’s more in control of her experience,” Denman said. That means a better user experience, which in turn means more revenue for the operator.

In particular, the Openwave CEO said, providers can offer services such as dynamic bandwidth management that improve the quality of the experience for users by adjusting the bit rate of the content they are sending according to network conditions, or they can offer demand-based pricing and bundling features. They can also target specific offers to a user directly, he said; for example, noticing that a user is close to their data maximum for the month and then alerting them, along with an offer to buy more data or upgrade their account, instead of forcing them to make a call and sit on hold with a customer representative.

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