Telcos spent all this money

Telcos spent all this money, built all the infrastructure, hired all these clever people, imagined and planned and consulted for all of it, have all this market power, and they’ll get none of it.
Ben Evans
talking about mobile Internet.

Ben has a point. Telcos spent huge amounts of money building the infrastructure to support mobile Internet. They didn’t get “none” of it exactly, but they did only get a small part of the pie. They got the chance to carry the traffic at commoditising price points, which when considering the cost to build and maintain their networks, is probably more like the burnt crust than the pie.

The big winners were Apple, Samsung and the OTT players because they provided the products that consumers perceived to be the most valuable and worth paying a premium for.

The next waves of innovation such as augmented reality, internet of things, autonomous cars, etc, etc provide Telcos with a new set of opportunities to deliver the premium value parts of the ecosystems. However, I’m not sensing that this is where the thought-leadership is coming from.

Telcos will continue to provide the digital communications links they’ve specialised in since Claude Shannon developed Information Theory in 1948 for AT&T. An amazing accomplishment but no longer the juicy part of the pie.

Telcos simply can’t provide all of the world’s leading innovations like they did in Shannon’s time. However, they can provide the ecosystems that allow all hardware and software innovators to more easily connect into.

Like Telcos, OSS needs to break the nexus of just managing the network and becoming a partner to the bigger pie by learning from what happened in the last decade with the mobile Internet.

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