Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Multi-SIM/multi-channel mobile broadband? Is there an opportunity?

I was chatting today with Raj Krishna at Manovega about their new mobile broadband product. Essentially the aim is to speed up mobile broadband connections by combining multiple (5-10)channels in a single device through the use of multiple SIMs.

This is an interesting approach to solving one of the critical issues for MNOs: How do you differentiate an enterprise offer? Currently with no differentiated service, enterprise customers are sensibly migrating to cheap consumer plans. Offering larger bundles doesn't really appeal to business users as enterprise apps are typically not that data hungry. What business users will pay for is speed. Unfortunately no-one has really managed to successfully address this requirement. The potential benefits to the operator of doing so are substantial in terms of higher rev/MB. Enteprise users are willing to pay, but they must receive a substantive benefit, i.e. faster or more reliable connection. By combining multiple connections (and potentially connections from multiple MNOs), this multi-SIM/multi-channel solution potentially offers an enterprise-grade MBB service. Or at least gets closer.

The challenges, however, are manifold, including:
  • Peripheral devices have a limited shelf life as modems become increasingly embedded
  • Operators typically push back against devices with multiple SIMs
  • Infrastructure vendors are looking at pushing a similar agenda, allowing MNOs to differentiate an enterprise proposition without the requirement for multiple SIMs

However, the principal is a good one: more bandwidth for those willing to pay. There must be a significant premium associated with this as effectively any user will be hoovering up 5-10 users' capacity. So at least a 5-10x premium must apply.

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