Carrier Evolution

Legacy leaders are are never completely happy with their share of ecosystem revenue in a business that either is contracting, or undergoing major restructuring, as the global telecom business surely is experiencing. Nor, generally speaking, can existing participants in an industry that is either newly deregulated or undergoing fundamental technology change expect to escape the danger of new competition from “firms and industries that are not in our business.”

In fact, of the dozen or so changes a newly deregulated industry will face, competition from players outside the industry is commonplace. These days, the effective impact of the Internet is that it “deregulates” all industries, businesses and processes.

In the global telecom business, there have been complaints for years from telecom executives that third party app providers build businesses on the back of telco-provided access services, but that the access providers do not share in the revenue created.

In a potentially new development, some application providers might be taking a similar view, sensing that they create huge value for telcos, but do not participate in the access revenue stream, for example.

Strand Consult now speculates on whether Facebook, for example, is willing to look beyond advertising as a source of revenue, and whether Facebook would become a mobile virtual network operator, as a way to create a new revenue stream, as well as recapture some of the value it believes it is creating in the ecosystem.

As some have speculated about the value of Facebook creating its own branded smart phone, Strand Consult now speculates about the value of Facebook becoming a service provider.

Becoming an “MVNO is a logical step for Facebook the world’s largest communication platform,” Strand Consult analysts argue.

One billion users already consider Facebook as their de facto telephone book for friends and family and use the platform for communicating by SMS, text, image and video, the firm argues.

Aside from its huge user base, Facebook has credit card credentials on file already for millions of its users, many of whom purchase premium games, driving one sixth of Facebook’s revenue.

How much could Facebook earn as an MVNO? Facebook currently earns annual revenue per user of $4. An MNVO can earn between $10 a month and $50 a month per customer with an operating margin between 20 percent and 25 percent.