EE unveiled a new “connected strategy” in June, the centrepiece of which was the world’s first 4G action camera.
In common with other telcos, EE is attempting to put together a coherent strategy for the Internet of Things, arguably the most hyped phrase in the telecoms industry today.
But the reasons for EE’s involvement go beyond jumping on the bandwagon marked potential new revenues.
The UK mobile operator’s initial goals for 4G have, to a large extent, been met – it has signed up 11 million customers in three years while coverage has reached 90 percent, making it the country’s and Europe’s market leader by some distance.
Having launched a TV service last year, an IoT play is the obvious other growth area for it to look at ahead of its proposed acquisition by BT.
Speaking to European Communications, Swantee says: “We’ve invested heavily in creating a network that can truly deliver high speed, high capacity and mobile broadband to our customers. With voice and text revenues declining, the industry has to find new ways to keep them connected.
“Operators are still challenged by the changing mobile landscape and changes in traditional revenue sources. The connected strategy recognises that there is the opportunity to do more for customers because customers are asking us to do more.”
According to the Chief Executive, EE has now reached the point for first time where the network is able to exceed the speeds devices are capable of asking from it. “It means we, as a network, can ask for more because now we deliver more,” says Swantee.
Can it succeed? Set against other operators, the majority of whom have a slavish focus on the network-based intricacies of the IoT, it is refreshing to see EE dive straight in with a consumer tech launch.
That is not to say EE is blind to the technical challenges. Swantee says: “The connected area is only emerging and as such it is extremely fragmented; from a technology standards perspective, this is a real challenge. As an industry, we really need to accelerate standards in this space to drive more reliability and more interoperability.”
Nevertheless, EE’s consumer-first approach is to be welcomed. The operator has a four-pronged strategy to a world where many things are becoming increasingly connected.
In addition to Connected You, the umbrella under which its Action Cam falls, there is Connected Business, Connected Car and Connected Home.
Swantee has created a dedicated team responsible for driving all of them, headed by Christopher Traggio.
The CEO says: “Creating these categories gives the business the permission to be creative and to think differently about the products and services we offer going forward. The 4GEE Action Cam was first… it’s exactly the sort of imagination we are looking for from the business and also shows how we will work with partners on this strategy.”
Swantee describes EE’s plans as “very ambitious” and says we can expect to see “significant launches” in the next 12 months.
But he adds: “This is not about rushing to launch new products, we take extra care to ensure the end-to-end experience is spot on when we actually launch the product.”
Swantee expects Connected You to be the biggest revenue driver of the four areas it is focusing on.
“Given the scale of our retail estate and our consumer base, Connected You is clearly an area we expect to drive a lot of attention and ultimately significant revenue for our business,” he explains.
Without being explicit about what it will come up with next, he adds: “We want to bring to consumers new devices and new applications that are enabled by the speed and the reliability achieved by our 4G network.
“Watches, cameras, cars or homes; the opportunities are immense. In all major consumer technologies, UK has been leading in terms of adoption. We expect the same for these categories.”
He adds: “Beyond that, we see increasing demand from our B2B partners, preparing to deploy some of these technologies to drive more efficiency in their operations. For example, a number of our key B2B accounts came to us to discuss applications of our connected cameras for their mobile workforce.”
This is an extract of a longer feature interview that appears in the next issue of European Communications. Click here to ensure you get your copy
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