‘Telcos and online firms must unite for 4G push’

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EE CEO Olaf Swantee urges operators to ‘partner for success’ when rolling out 4G

Partnerships between operators and hardware and software providers will become more common with the advent of 4G, and both sides need to provide over-the-top (OTT) services.

This is the view of EE CEO Olaf Swantee who, speaking at Mobile World Congress, said network operators will find it tough to build a good 4G network on their own and they need to “partner for success”.

Swantee said the merging of Orange and T-Mobile to create EE enabled the company to create the best network in the UK.

He said: “I would argue that in a world where mobile operators are rolling out 4G, this partnering is becoming even more important.

“The mobile market has seriously matured and I believe it is becoming much more like the IT market with more horizontal integration.”

He said the need for telecoms companies to provide services outside their core competencies also meant partnerships will become more common.

Swantee identified three areas – security, mobile banking and advertising – that EE will focus on in 2013 and look for partnerships to help them provide services, adding the operator is “very selective” in its choice of which companies to work with.

EE currently has security partnerships with Alliance and Lookout and is involved in advertising joint venture Weve with Vodafone and O2. It will also look for partnerships with video content providers, Swantee said.

Telefónica Digital CEO of new business ventures, Stephen Shurrock, also speaking at the event, said that along with advertising and banking, new trends in content sharing and multiscreen access mean the company is open to partnerships.

Shurrock said Telefónica Digital is “definitely” looking to partner with banks and payment providers in Latin America, where smartphone penetration is 100 per cent but only 40 per cent of the population has access to a bank account.

It will also look for partnerships with e-health software manufacturers, he said.

“With mobile banking, the bigger opportunity lies in Latin America, where there is 100 per cent smartphone penetration but only 40 per cent have a bank account. So we are definitely looking to partner there, where

the population will skip a generation and go straight to e-banking,” Shurrock said.

“We see opportunities in billing services, banking and e-heath as the biggest growth opportunities for partners.”

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