T-Mobile: Probably Integrating Fixed and Mobile Branches Again

After Vodafone Germany has reversed its course last year and stopped the sale of its fixed line branch, T-Mobile is now also revising its pilar model. Current rumors are that with the the boss of the wirline business going towards finances, CEO Rene Oberman will use the opportunity and combine wireless and wireline under a common roof once more. Looks like another major operator gets itself into a position to explore the possibilities of Connected Home Services, i.e. services in the homes of users ranging from sensor networks, accessing audio and video libraries to remote controlling devices not only from devices in the home network but also from mobile devices while on the go. I've had many posts on this in the past two years, for more background info see for example here and here.

2 Day LTE Services Course at the University of Oxford

Great News: On April 20 and 21st, Ajit Jaokar of Open Gardens and I will host a 2 day course on LTE Services at the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education!

Here’s the agenda:

  • New services based on enhanced capacity of the network
  • IP based business models
  • Rich voice applications
  • New role of devices to handle rich content and social networks
  • Social networks based on rich content like video
  • Services unique to LTE and the core network
  • Greater role for user generated content and for rich media
  • Unified communications and beyond 3G networks
  • Fixed mobile integration – leveraging enhanced networks and learning from past mistakes
  • Integrated networks and connecting back to home networks
  • Network elements: Femtocells vs Wi-Fi in the home gateway and services based on these elements
  • Wireless sensor networks at home and their role and opportunity in an overall beyond 3G network

I am very happy to be part of this and it will be great to look at these topics from our two different angles. We've also put together a questionnaire to see what your angle is on this topic. If you have a minute and are interested, we'd be happy to get your feedback. We'll share the result with those who leave their e-mail address and of course with all course participants. Needless to say that all responses are treated confidentially.

So, if I have caught your interest, head over to the course's web site for the details. During this week, there’s also the yearly Forum Oxford Future Telecommunication Conference. More about that in an extra post once the details are sorted out.

The Real Time Web And Connected Home Services

Here's a link to a very interesting presentation of fellow book author Paul Golding about the real time web and it's impact on mobile. A powerful train of thought and I would summarize what he calls the real time web as follows:

  • Today, the web (or the Internet in general) on mobile devices is still dominated by polling, i.e. the user requesting web pages.
  • Paul foresees that news and events happening around the world in real time will be pushed automatically to both mobile devices and of course also to desktop PCs and notebooks. Desktop and idle screen widgets based on web technologies is one possibility for this.
  • Information is meshed up on the Internet before it is pushed to the user on his mobile or stationary device. An example of this for example is TweetNews that sorts Yahoo search results with input from Twitter to increase the relevancy of breaking news that is spreading mach faster via social media than via the traditional channels.
  • Content is not only created by others and put on the web for public use, but everyone is creating content that while being private should be pushed into the web as well so it is accessible by its creator and owner from different devices and can be mashed-up with other content. An example for content that should be accessible from everywhere is the calender or address book.

I think that his ideas are great and many of them are already worked on by Google, Nokia and others. However, for the last bullet point where I would like to add a different idea. While I like the idea of mashing-up lets say my address book with information about online instant messaging availability of other persons, I don't really like my address book information in the hands of anyone else but me. In other words, I don't like my private information to be stored on a server on the web, I want it stored on a device under my control.

And I think that this is where mobile network operators with fixed line assets can come into play. Instead of having my private information stored in the web, it could also be stored in the user's home network. Fixed/Mobile network operators have all the pieces of the puzzle together to make this work and not much competition to fear. They are in the unique position to sell the following bits and pieces together to their customers:

  • A DSL modem / Wi-Fi / Femto box (also known as a home gateway)
  • Services running on that box or via that box accessible from within the home network and via a secure connection from the outside
  • Wireless Access
  • Preconfigured devices with connected home services that use the cellular / Wi-Fi / femto depending on where they are to access that information.

Of course network operators can't do it on their own, they need device manufacturers to deliver home gateways and software for mobile devices capable of doing that. It's a great possibility to compete with similar services that are web based, a territory where network operators have difficulty to compete in. And the best, the customers will love them for it, since they offer such connected home services with more security and privacy than what is possible on the web.

And for the mash-up part of the scenario it doesn't really matter if a central server mashes up the content or if a service in the home network do that.