When you meet VCs and entrepreneurs and discuss the telecom industry they all agree that Telecom is not a Start-up friendly environment. There are countless initiatives going around Telecom operators but not that many working with operators. Main reason given is that Telecom operators are so slow to make any improvements and try out new things. Why is it like this? Telecom is heavily regulated, it is standardized and a deep pocket business. Flip side is that Telecom has lost growth over a decade and still a new scalable business model is in search.
When you compare WiFi and macro networks, there are many interesting differences. For example, Operator A and operator B customers can use the same WiFi access point. It takes some action to log in to WiFi Access Point but the macro network is there all the time. When on a macro network you are afraid of cost or running out of data plan, but in WiFi you don’t see cost element at all. There are also other differences, but let’s focus on these at this time. What would it require to come up with a business model that combines best of both technologies and opens up opportunities to innovate new services.
Solution is very simple: we should allow customers to build non-public networks. Selection what network to use should be based on applications you are using if both networks are available.
This would make life so much easier, no more surprises from telephone bills and suddenly your coverage is much better than today. Technically this is very easy to do already with existing 4G technology. You just need to think that non-public networks are MVNOs and allow them to do in-country roaming. Interface at the non-public network side needs to be rich including access to QoS features and MEC capability.
The non-public network model would mean that telcos need to do less advertisement, less billing, less marketing and almost no customer care. Cost base would drop dramatically leaving more room to invest on macro networks and accelerating development. Would non-public networks open up opportunities for Start-ups, at least it would make networks more approachable for application developers.