Let’s have more FON says commissioner

A high profile European Commissioner has delivered a warning to the operator community, advising telcos to open up access to user driven applications, or face further stagnation of their revenues.

Speaking at a conference held at the i-City living lab in Hasselt, Belgium, last week, Professor Jean-Claude Burgelman, director general of the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission, said that telcos would do well to take note of user driven innovation, services and applications.

“We need more initiatives like Fon,” he said in reference to the community driven wireless hotspot initiative started in Spain.

“Over the next five to seven years, most of Europe could be covered by hotspots and VoIP has shaken up the telcos in the same way that Google signalled the end of the desktop based approach to computing. Blogs are the new mass media, YouTube is the new CNN,” Burgelman said.

In studying the dynamics of user driven innovation, services and applications, Burgelman’s key message was that operators need to focus on the so called ‘long tail’, facilitating the delivery of lots and lots of niche applications, rather than trying to bring a few applications of their choosing to the mass market.

The commissioner advised that telcos should make use of their best assets – a large customer base, coupled with a lot of user data, existing billing capabilities and customer service platforms, to offset the decline in voice revenues and lacking attempts to herd the masses onto new data services.

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