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Time to invest in mobile messaging, say operators worldwide

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Airwide Solutions, has published the results of a study which was conducted by the independent analyst house, Direct2Mobile which found that mobile operators believe SMS will become the enabler that underpins next generation advanced services with all the operators surveyed claiming that they are seeking to use the investment they have made in developing their mobile messaging infrastructure in order to introduce new value added services.

Of all the services cited, mobile social networking and mobile applications lead the way with 75% of mobile operators expecting to invest in them over the next 12 months. Mobile broadband is not far behind with 65% of operators expecting to make investments over the next 12 months, closely followed by location-based services, IM/presence based services and the mobile internet (which 50% of operators stated would be a priority for the 12 months ahead).

According to Airwide's research, social networking is seen by most operators as the key driver of both person to person (P2P) and application to person (A2P) consumer messaging volumes. Operators are keen to capitalize on the success of social networking and ensure that SMS is the primary conduit for swapping messages and delivering status updates on both mobile and fixed-internet social networking sites. Indeed, consumers are already becoming accustomed to making status updates to various social networking sites via SMS, as well as via their WAP browser on the mobile internet. It is the speed, ubiquity, convenience and value-for-money of this approach that is compelling to the consumer market. Moreover, as operators enable social networking sites to automatically deliver updates via SMS, A2P messaging volumes are set to rapidly increase.

According to Airwide's survey, mobile broadband and location based services will also play a key role in future operator strategies with 50% of operators expecting mobile broadband will play a very important role in expanding the messaging market and 50% and 37.5% of operators expecting location-based services to play a "very important" and "somewhat important" role, respectively.

Interestingly, the enterprise messaging market is also set to expand with 75% of operators expecting enterprise/brands to play an important role in market growth. As corporates, brands, banks and utilities increasingly evolve their brand awareness campaigns to offer a direct connection with consumers, it will be the operators' infrastructure to which they turn to make these campaigns possible. Motoring organisations, for example may want to update their customers directly on travel conditions in real time without having to rely on SatNav or WAP browsing. Similarly, banks will want to offer information via SMS on account balances and unusual transactions.

Jay Seaton, CMO at Airwide Solutions commented: "Revenues from SMS have become a substantial and strategic income stream for mobile operators worldwide. However, recent market changes are placing an ever greater pressure on operators to deliver new and richer services that will not only complement voice and text services but also boost ARPU and help improve market share. As operators look to introduce next generation value added services, companies such as Airwide Solutions are perfectly positioned to not only provide operators with the highly reliable infrastructure they need to support the roll out of these services, but also the flexible foundation to enable operators to react to ever-changing service demands of subscribers. This is an opportunity for fast moving operators to be on the forefront of this trend and offer subscribers the enhanced services they desire."

Nick Lane, Chief Researcher, Direct2 Mobile added: "The research shows mobile operators are now looking to increase their margins associated with messaging by introducing premium-based SMS services or pushing SMS users higher up the value chain onto MMS, and value-added services. Mobile operators can use their infrastructure as an enabler to these new services while also protecting subscribers from possible security risks."

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