Cellcos could make $85b in five years from IoT enablement and selling big data

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Mobile network operators can potentially rake in an additional $85 billion in revenues over the next five years via deployment and enhancement of non-core services, including big data analytics and IoT enablement, according to a new study from Juniper Research.

The study argues that there is a significant opportunity for operators to move beyond connectivity provision through selling customer data to clients in both raw and packaged (analyzed) forms.

Operators could monetize data models including pay-per usage, metered usage and results-based fees. In turn, clients would benefit from significant cost efficiencies and/or additional value per customer, resulting in a demonstrable ROI on the analytics package.

As for the monetization potential from IoT device connectivity and enablement, operators would need to ensure that their forthcoming 5G networks are optimized for a multitude of connected devices to maximize that potential, Juniper said.

The study recommended that operators follow the example of players such as AT&T, Telefonica and NTT DoCoMo, which have set stringent targets for network virtualization. Using this approach, operators can facilitate customization for individual clients while also reducing expenditure.

However, the backhaul capacity of 5G networks will need to be markedly higher than before to cope with increased traffic passing through the cells, says research author Dr Windsor Holden.

“Upscaling capacity requires a radical reappraisal of backhaul techniques so the cost per Mbps is significantly reduced from its current [3G/4G] level,” he said.

The research suggested that the need for ultra-low latency applications could be addressed by MEC (mobile edge computing) solutions overlaid onto the RAN, with hosted apps also benefitting from real-time network information.

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