The two-sided business model has fascinated the telecoms industry since the concept first started to gain credibility some years ago, largely through the pioneering efforts of STL Partners. The theory is well-known and some operators are starting to deliver on the concept with innovative platforms and packages aimed at business partners from both sides.
It’s a corner stone of the concept that, for example, mobile operators have access to resources and assets that can be of benefit to other parties. Moreover, it’s axiomatic that these assets are unique and are not available to other providers, such as OTT providers who deliver applications directly to customers in MNO networks but who don’t (currently) pay for the privilege.
This point needs further exploration: it’s really a question of identifying a unique capability and leveraging it. And, something that is unquestionably an asset is the network and the ability to deliver quality of service – and guarantee effective quality of experience – to customers. But there is an area that has been overlooked – the RAN is a key territory that is owned by MNOs and cannot be colonised by other players. It’s critical, therefore, that MNOs seek to optimise their ability to deliver outstanding and controllable QoE in the RAN.
This requires innovation. They need to extend their QoS framework into the RAN itself in order to protect and enhance their unique assets. They can do this by leveraging existing frameworks and extending them into the RAN and the domain of the client device. Take the PCEF for example. While this currently sits in the network, taking PCEF functionality into the RAN via handset-based deployments significantly enhances MNOs ability to deliver something unique and hence create differentiation that will support their ability to capitalise on the promise of the two-sided business model.
Differentiation requires unique assets. MNOs have many, but they can also work to extend and enhance these assets in ways that increase their value.