As we discussed in Part 1, a virtual operator might want to offer services such as a tablet with Netflix on it, or a bundle encompassing a variety of platforms like Facebook + Twitter + Whatsapp. Or an MVNO may want to launch a service just for wearables or just focused on one domain such as M2M or fleet management.
Cloud conglomerates such as Amazon and Google could be the biggest beneficiaries of NFV. With their existing cloud infrastructure, the time is not far away when these giants could step into the telecom industry as virtual operators and offer their services to the general public for a low cost, perhaps even for free, while sharing the radio access network (RAN) of a telecom operator like AT&T or Verizon.
Companies such as Amazon and Google thrive on big data. Consider Gmail, one of the fastest growing email services in the world, which is available to the public for a low cost of free. We know our data is used for customized advertisements and marketing, yet we gladly use these services. Why? Quite simply because they work and do what they are supposed to do, hassle-free, and we don’t really care what they do with our data in terms of ads as long as what they are offering us works. After all, it’s these very ads these companies live off of.
Look back at the Starbucks Web 2.0 migration deal that Google won from ATT — a deal which would essentially revamp Starbucks’ existing network infrastructure such that the new setup would allow anyone entering the coffee shop to login to their networks without entering login details each and every time. The concept appears relatively simple, but a lot goes on behind the scenes in terms of pulling it off in real time.
What does Google get from it in the end? After all, it offered the revamp for a low cost of, again, free. What Google gets from this is access to the data of Starbucks’ barrage of customers.
Here’s where the NFV part comes in. Mobile devices generate 30 percent of the entire web traffic as of today. Forecasts are that this number will go far beyond that in the coming years. With Gmail or other Google services, Google has access to data of users using these services only. But with a step into the MVNO business with effective NFV implementation (again, discussed in Part 1), Google would know about every packet that is passing through the network.
Similarly, Amazon has access to data of customers buying from Amazon only, and the same holds true for Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and so on. Actually, these companies would pay anything to have their hands on public data across different platforms. After all, it’s the advertisements that bring in the money.
Recall the astronomical amount Facebook paid for WhatsApp, which we all thought was treading along the borderline of sanity? Well, consider it alongside the importance of cross-platform user data and what it means to these companies, and the picture will assuredly not remain fuzzy anymore.