Concern & Advice for Our Telcos
The Telco’s would love to work a deal with us to be the exclusive provider of mobile broadband service for my students. Of course that desire is based on all of our undergraduate students having a university provided laptop and recognition that we are committed to exploring mobile technology to improve learning. They know that I am considering transitioning our nearly 20-year laptop program to a new generation of mobile computing devices such as the NetBooks or the anticipated Apple Tablet.
So what will the Telcos have to do to break into this market?
I think they understand that campus WiFi negates the need for mobile broadband, but they still hope that off campus activity might justify it. However, I think students only see mobile broadband as a secondary solution. They just need enough of a connection to get them from WiFi to WiFi. Of course the voice/text phone still carries the value of maintaining contact but that feature is losing value. It used to be that the college student was a highly valued new customer opportunity, but family plans eliminated that. If the new mobile computing device offers an option to turn on mobile broadband service, what will the threshold be that justifies paying for that service?
What if the Telcos could capture a new customer with long-term loyalty? Just sell a data plan that adapted to usage thresholds and offered personal digital identity space. Sounds a little like MobileME except with many more strings. The service could offer a VOIP alternative for Voice and Text. What if this service got involved with secure login and true digital identity that helped to manage the customer’s social networking? What If the Telcos could break away from a mentality based on exploiting American consumerism and actually focus on real innovation?