Mobile Operators Must Befriend Business

Cell phone operators are urged to get more corporate-friendly by focusing on enterprise services and better e-mail

More use of femtocells and picocells, better enterprise tariffs and expanded mobile email are just some of the ways mobile phone operators could try to lure corporates as they look to increase their revenues from business customers.

Mobile operators are being urged to look to the business market to boost their income as consumer revenue opportunities decline, and if they fail to focus on enterprise services they run the risk of being marginalised by other providers, according to a report from telecoms consultancy Analysys.

Dr Mark Heath, Analysys associate and co-author of the Seizing the Opportunities from Enterprise Mobility report, said revenues from the consumer market are in decline due to price competition and reduced roaming charges.

And yet, the report warns, operators continue to put their efforts into the consumer side despite the enterprise market accounting for 37 per cent of mobile service revenue in Western Europe in 2006.

But by focusing on voice services for businesses along with mobile email and other data services that can be accessed both in and out of the office, Analysys says operators could tap into more revenue.

Heath said: "What we're seeing now is mobile operators going beyond their core business."

Operators could make their services more appealing by improving mobile coverage in offices through more in-building base stations -- known as picocells or femtocells.

Heath said operators should also change enterprise tariffs so users can access a variety of services without running up "astronomical" bills.

Mobile calls could also be routed more cost-effectively within an office using femtocells and picocells - rather than sending calls out to the network and returning them to the same building.

Mobile email is another area Heath feels operators should focus on. He said: "There's a lot of opportunity to expand that out."

Heath added operators also need to reverse the general "dislike" of them from businesses, which often feel they fail to receive adequate service.

The value of mobile data services is clear with non-SMS revenues having hit $11.3bn in the first quarter of 2007, according to telecoms researcher Informa.

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