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Mobile in 2016 part 2: challenges and opportunities for MNOs

January 20, 2016

Mehul Kapadia   

Blog contributor

In my previous post, I explored the services that MNOs will be looking to provide to achieve competitive advantage in 2016. Here, I will ask a different question: what are the potential gateways and barriers to a successful 2016 for MNOs?

Here are some of the areas where innovative MNOs are likely to excel and those that stand still may falter in the next 12 months.

Network Infrastructure

With more network sharing, virtual network providers and a proliferation of managed network contracts, the question has been raised over whether there’s any real advantage to network assert ownership. In Europe, we’re seeing a trend in mobile network operator consolidation, with some European markets likely to emerge with just three MNOs each. The obvious cost pressure associated with spectrum licensing, maintaining a national domestic network and the apparent economies of scale associated with consolidating operations means that where market consolidation has taken place, there’s a chance that the network will no longer provide the basis for competitive advantage.


From a commercial perspective, 5G shouldn’t be awaited imminently. It will take several years for 5G services to become available. While the technology is undergoing lab testing at the moment, in reality there are not yet accepted standards in place and there doesn’t appear to be a compelling reason to launch 5G to the market yet. Services such as augmented reality, VR and futuristic gaming are likely candidates to benefit from 5G, but the likelihood is that these technologies will see commercial adoption in five years or so.


The number and intensity of fraud incidents and cyber-attacks has reached record levels, and these attacks are costing communications service providers billions of dollars every year, along with tarnishing service providers’ reputations at the same time.

The traditional telecoms fraud attack landscape is exacerbated by new cyber threats to network security, to the extent that it isn’t comprehensible to treat traditional telecoms fraud as a separate issue from the new threat landscape, such as denial of service attacks, malware and associated hacks.

The opportunity to combine approaches in defence against traditional telecoms fraud and the mitigation of new cyber security threats means that providers can combine techniques from both areas, including advanced data analysis and data correlation, machine learning, data visualisation techniques and near real-time processing, to provide better network security and in turn, enhanced protection from fraud.


One particular aspect of M2M that is gaining a lot of attention is the rise of smart cities. India has announced plans to create 100 smart cities; China has committed $8Bn (USD) in smart city development and research firm IHS recently projected there will be at least 88 smart cities globally by 2025, from 21 in 2013.

Although the first wave of projects has documented problems, a more focused effort around proper deployment of wireless connectivity will be vital to networking a city of the future in the most effective way. In order for a city to be healthy, data has to flow freely and to the right areas so that it can be properly processed, analysed and acted upon.

Ensuring the circulation of data to key organs within the smart city will be the job of carriers and mobile operators, and the result will be significant interaction enabling game changing improvements to city life for visitors and residents.

You can also read Srini CR’s predictions for cloud computing in the year ahead. In the meantime, leave a comment below.