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Opportunities and challenges for operators in the mobile cloud
For further information please contact:

Uwe Herzog
Programme Manager
Wieblinger Weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg, Germany

Project Information

What is this Project about?

Mobile cloud computing represents a relatively new model and architecture for delivering applications and services on-demand to mobile devices via mobile broadband (3G) or WiFi. With mobile cloud service delivery, users are not necessarily restricted by traditional customer-operator relationship anymore to access mobile applications over the web. VoIP clients and various cloud applications like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and various iPhone apps, to give some examples, open new venues for the user to access as many services as needed. It should also be noted that many analysts, including ABI Research, claim that the cloud will soon become a disruptive force in the mobile world, eventually becoming the dominant way in which mobile applications operate and are delivered. Even today downloadable (on-device) rich-media smartphone applications already utilise back-end processing and data storage in the cloud. And, increasingly, mobile operating system providers are coming to the conclusion that cloud computing – wherein the majority of app information is hosted and processed in the cloud – provides a better alternative for collaborative, converged applications across both consumer and enterprise services. Intelligent terminals and devices including smartphones, PCs with internal or attached 3G dongle, M2M devices, security devices, home appliances, etc., cause mobile data traffic to proliferate.

There is a growing body of opinion that running thin-clients on mobile phones/terminal, with the majority of processing conducted within the cloud (server-centric), is a better alternative than running thick-client applications natively on the handsets – especially as applications become larger and more plentiful. This also obviously applies to the increasing number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, like SalesForce, Microsoft Online, etc. Assuming that on-device data storage and processing will increasingly and gradually move into the cloud, how will that affect mobile operators and what will it mean in terms of bandwidth capacity requirements and service levels? Furthermore, increased smartphone adoption is making the mobile a more desirable platform for brand advertisers and therefore ad placements targeted at smartphone users is expected to grow considerable in the coming years.

In general, smartphones will increasingly run sophisticated cloud based applications, support social networking, run email applications, and provide internet access. With increased bandwidth requirements mobile broadband networks will be burdened further. Although stable and speedy mobile broadband is normally a requirement for efficient cloud service delivery, new technologies like HTML5, which provides local caching, can address deficiencies in intermittent mobile network delivery. For cloud based applications this is a critical element, given the fact that connectivity is (and will continue to be) poor in certain locales/areas due to network coverage or other issues. HTML5 will also reduce the dependence of various “on-device” plug-in technologies like Java, Flash and Silverlight.

What are the main objectives of this Project?

  • To understand how emerging adoption of smartphones and migration to mobile cloud applications and services will affect the current operator’s business, including:
    • Understand the impact of mobile cloud technologies and apps/services
    • Assess impact on mobile networks (congestion, bandwidth requirements, etc.)
    • Change in usage patterns
    • New services affecting current operator’s service offering
    • Standardisation and regulation development
  • To understand the mechanisms of mobile cloud computing
    • How will mobile services and applications move to the cloud?
    • What are the requirements for enabling mobile cloud applications and services?
    • How will this migration affect handsets?
    • Distinguish between mobile internet and mobile broadband?

  • Identify/discuss what opportunities mobile cloud migration may bring for operators
    • Estimate potential changes or threats to MNOs services and identify opportunities
    • Pricing strategies, bundles, tiered-pricing, etc.
    • Analyse new business roles and business models enabled by mobile cloud computing
    • Identify how operators should strategically approach increase in mobile cloud applications and services – and how will it affect network bandwidth requirements?
    • Present recommendations for MNOs/SPs – how to leverage upon mobile cloud computing


Project Results
Deliverable Title  No Issue date
Mobile cloud technologies and trends  D1 October 2010
Opportunities and strategies for MNOs in the mobile cloud  D2 January 2011
Opportunities and challenges for operators in the mobile cloud (slide set) D3 January 2011