Future revenue streams

Services including augmented reality, machine-to-machine communications and cloud computing offer potentially lucrative revenue streams for telcos.

Tags: Augmented realityCloud computingUnited Arab Emirates
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Future revenue streams Alcatel-Lucent and Etisalat's display on an 'LTE-connected' car at Gitex offered a glimpse of potential new revenue streams for telcos.
By  Roger Field Published  November 3, 2010

As anybody who regularly attends telecoms conferences and exhibitions in the region will be aware, one of the most common themes to crop up is the question of how operators can avoid becoming a ‘dumb pipe’ in a world where services such as Facebook and Twitter appear to rule supreme.

It is a tough call for telcos, and one that their CEOs usually claim they can address. But when asked exactly how they can generate new revenue streams while the likes of Google and Skype make use of their networks, the details are vague. It is easy to get the feeling that telcos know the destination they must reach, but lack the roadmap to get there.

A few running themes at Gulfcomms, the telecoms component of Gitex Technology Week, which took place in Dubai last month, helped add a few more details to that roadmap.

Subjects that have emerged in the past year as solid talking points for telcos include cloud computing, augmented reality, and machine-to-machine communication (M2M), and each of these made an appearance, at some point, during Gitex. Each of these services or technologies could offer telecom operators significant new revenue streams in the next few years.

Etisalat and Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE Connected Car and Qualcomm’s augmented reality demo, which were on display at Gulfcomms, helped to prove that tangible services and revenue streams will emerge from these nascent technologies.

Many companies at Gitex were also touting their ability to make cloud computing a reality, and this is also likely to become a source of revenue for telcos.

Operators will be able to generate revenues from these emerging industries by doing what they know best – dealing with customers. Indeed, the telcos have something that many other companies, including the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, lack. And that is a solid financial relationship with their customers.

The past month also saw an interesting development from UAE telco Du, which launched ‘anayou’, a website encompassing social networking, entertainment and data storage aimed squarely at people in the Middle East and North Africa. The website, which is in Arabic, English and French, aims to address the current dearth of Arabic and regional content on the web.

The website, which is the product of Du Media Lab, a division of Du that is dedicated to ventures in the digital space, shows recognition by Du that operators can also enter into the over the top space and make use of their own, and other operators’, networks. As Osman Sultan, CEO, Du, told CommsMEA, it also offers a means of expanding beyond the UAE without costing a fortune.

On a broader theme, Gitex, and indeed the past year, have seen some major innovations and developments from the region’s operators, vendors and third party suppliers, and this will be recognised at the CommsMEA Awards, which will take place on November 30 in Dubai.

As CommsMEA went to press, it was clear that this year’s edition has attracted a record number of nominations, and the quality of the nominations appears to have surpassed previous years. The event will be attended by the leading lights of the region’s telecoms sector.

For more information, please visit our dedicated CommsMEA Awards website at: www.itp.net/cmeaawards2010. We look forward to seeing you there.

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