Feeds

Mobile network operators roll over and die

And "communications companies" are born

The essential guide to IT transformation

2006 in review 2006 saw the death of the UK mobile network operator. The wireless industry seemed to realise that it had come of age and it was time to get serious with a round of consolidations and expansions which turned mere operators into "communications companies" able to operate over any kind of connectivity.

As specific connectivity technologies become less important, the need for standards-conformance decreases. In 2006 the IEEE was increasingly sidelined in the standards process, and there was a rush to deploy products without regard for compatibility or future-proofing.

A year ago we used to claim there were five mobile phone operators in the UK, with a few virtual network operators to make things interesting. But a scant 12 months later there isn't a single company who will admit to being a network operator any more. Today, they like to be known as "communications companies", except one which now wishes to be known as a "media company".

Like my mate who suddenly asked everyone to call him Kate, the changes are becoming more than skin deep. These communication companies don't want to just provide mobile phone services, they want to provide for all your communication needs, and ensure that no competitor sneaks in by providing you with a service they don't.

We are taking the first steps towards having tiers of communication companies: a top tier has the infrastructure to provide every communication service you might want; companies such as Orange who own cables, radio spectrum, and backbones. A second tier can provide most of what you want, and will brand other services to make it look as though they've got it all; BT falls in to this category as it lacks a mobile infrastructure but will still sell you a mobile service. The third tier own no infrastructure at all, but brand everything: companies such as Tesco who provide services on others' infrastructure.

Beyond this hierarchy we continue to have a few niche players, such as 3, which calls itself a media company, and other companies which are unwilling or unable to offer the full range of communication services. Surviving without offering the full range of services isn't going to be easy in 2007 and beyond, so the first part of next year will see several companies broadening their offerings through acquisition or alignment.

2007 will also be a year when content owners find themselves the centre of attention again. Someone will start chanting the internet mantra "content is king" and, before you know it, VCs and investors will have joined in and started throwing money around.

Sky, for example, will be emphasising its content production capabilities and using the capital generated to launch a fixed telephony service in 2007, if not a mobile one too.

But with effective DRM finally being built in to hardware, and HD video going mainstream, anyone with a back-catalogue of video content is going to be predicting huge interest, and income, to any VC who will listen - and there will be plenty of those in 2007.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
NBN Co claims 96 mbps download speeds for FTTN trial
Umina trial also delivers 30 mbps uploads, but exact rig used not revealed
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore
Fresh round of network stats fisticuffs possibly on the cards here
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
Google's so smart it's discovered SHARKS HAVE TEETH
Congratulations, world media, for rediscovering submarine cable armour
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?