How mobile service providers can tap $5.3bn digital utility market


The utility segment is prone to disruption, ripe for digitisation and will present a $5.3 billion market opportunity for mobile service providers by 2022, according to ABI Research.

To capture new revenue and market opportunities in the utility industry, mobile service providers need to implement UnTelco strategies rather than wait on the promise of 5G.

The research firm defines UnTelco services as activities, strategies, and opportunities beyond their traditional connectivity business.

The research firm recommends telcos understand innovative technologies and business models currently on the market and identify internal processes needing upgrade, to allow adoption of the new solutions.

Companies who wait for 5G will be late comers in grabbing opportunities presented by digitisation of utility operations.

Pablo Thomas, senior analyst, ABI Research, said: “The energy utility market is in the midst of major digitisation with new technologies, players, and market opportunities that are disrupting the traditional status quo. Mobile service providers must act now and target adjacent areas from the smart home to off-grid energy generation.

“Mobile service providers must use their network expertise to help utilities manage and connect their dispersed networks, they must deliver solutions that support utilities’ digitisation efforts in smart workforce and security, and they must partner with utilities to create synergies in new growth areas such as the smart city.

“Mobile service providers connectivity can be an entry point but cannot be the end goal. Otherwise, they could miss out on the expansion of related opportunities as happened with the explosion of over-the-top (OTT) services.”

The study finds that a growing number of telecommunication companies are beginning to understand the need to innovate and implement UnTelco strategies hence are investing beyond their traditional connectivity limits.

“This is encouraging for the sector,” notes Tomasi. “For instance, Orange delivers off-grid energy solutions across several of its African markets, creating a new customer channel, building an ecosystem, and expanding the use of its mobile money offering. Turkcell provides another example as the MSP eyes the energy retail market to strengthen its position in the smart home market.” In the smart home, Mobile service providers can bundle their energy offerings along with other traditional or digital services, increasing customers’ ARPU and loyalty.