Feature Article

August 22, 2013

Recommendations from Ovum Address Emerging Market Mobile Internet Users

What do you do when your cable goes out and you need to look something up on the Internet? You turn to your trusty smartphone and check out that website. When you think of the wiring headaches that face emerging markets, you have to think about how to get service to these locations.

Google would like to the sky to look like one of those alternate universes where blimps and balloons roam the airways. The thing is, if the idea works, then unimaginable places could have wireless connectivity.

Global Wi-Fi hotspots are expected to exceed six million by the end of this year. Could these areas that suffer from a lack of fixed Internet infrastructure benefit from these changes? Ovum, a company that provides clients with independent and objective analysis seems to think so.

In fact, Ovum has some recommendations that address that exact group. According to a recent report, Ovum believes that the next wave of mobile Internet users will be urban areas of emerging markets.

When you combine that lack of a fixed Internet infrastructure with what appears to be a significant purchasing power of urban residents then you can see a push from both end users and service providers in the direction of mobile access.

“The rising ownership of smart devices is not just giving some consumers access to the Internet for the first time; the wide availability of these devices will also increasingly divert traffic to the mobile web. Operators and content providers now have an important role to play in helping the next billion transition from basic voice and SMS functionality, to their initial steps with mobile browsers, and ultimately to smart experiences on the mobile Internet,” said Shiv Putcha, principal analyst for consumer telecoms at Ovum.

Putcha believes this because the research shows that there is a correlation between the growth of the mobile Internet and the adoption of smartphones and tablets in emerging markets.

Right now the installed base in emerging markets of smartphones only accounts for about 20 percent. Ovum believes that by the end of 2017 this number could goes as high as 50 percent. That would account for over two billion devices in emerging markets.

The recommendation from Ovum is that mobile network operators (MNOs) should embrace the prepaid user base for mobile broadband. They should also highlight the importance of simplified data access pricing.

Putcha went on to say, “The next billion consumers are typically highly value conscious; tariff complexity combined with potential bill shock will deter prospective mobile Internet users. These consumers will expect variety and simplicity in access packages and look for unlimited, time-based, and content-based packages.”

Another recommendation is that content providers localize mobile content services. Ovum sees this as being essential because of the strong cultural identities and preference for local languages in emerging markets.

The last recommendation that I will mention is that content providers should partner with operators for billing support. This would enable users to spend smaller amounts over a larger time period. This concept is in consideration of the limitations of current payment methods.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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