Interview: Mobolize’s Philip Mustain wants to make mobile operators content heros again

Smartphone users connect to Wi-Fi over 70% of the time. This is good and bad news to mobile operators. Good because it eases network capacity but bad because operators’ proprietary technology can’t manage a seamless handoff. More often than not, the user walks away from the Wi-Fi hotspot but the smartphone clings to the Wi-Fi signal making it look like there is no mobile coverage, or a “dead zone”. Poor network and data management are damaging to the user experience.

Mobolize has developed on-device software that enables mobile operators to manage this handoff smoothly so that the user experience doesn’t miss a beat and the door is open for operators to enhance customer engagement, increase revenue and drive customer lifetime value.  The company works with Sprint in the US and has just launched in Europe.

EYE caught up with Philip Mustain, CEO at Mobolize to find out more…

What does Mobolize do?

We provide a patented, on-device data management software for mobile operators. Our solutions help meet today’s challenging market disruptions by providing increased user performance and cost savings while meeting the demanding needs of attracting and keeping customers.

Our products are unique and smart because they are resident on the phone in the form of a data management engine that is installed and works like a traffic cop inside the device. We intelligently direct all the data traffic coming and going from both Wi-Fi and cellular radios. Mobolize’s aim is to ultimately help operators solve the real problems of keeping customers engaged and managing traffic and data to make operators heroes with their customers once more.

We’re the only one providing these solutions from a position on the device.

Mobile operators are in danger of becoming just ’dumb pipes’ delivering data to their customers without the subsequent benefit of additional revenue from such services as streaming video…

Who are your customers?

Mobile network operators, MVNOs, Wi-Fi network providers and OEM white label providers. Our current largest customer is Sprint, which has been a customer for two years. We recently added Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile and will have several further announcements soon – so stay tuned.

What challenges are mobile operators facing in terms of:

Monetisation of their customers? 

Mobile operators are in danger of becoming just ’dumb pipes’ delivering data to their customers without the subsequent benefit of additional revenue from such services as streaming video, messaging and other specialised services delivered to their customers from third party apps commonly known as ’Over the Top’ or OTT services. They are expected to meet the challenge of the exponential growth in data consumption which strains the capabilities of existing networks and requires massive investments.

Legislation (for example the abolition of roaming charges in Europe)?

The move to ‘roam Like home’ legislation that requires mobile operators to provide data services at prices equivalent to those at home, can create sizeable increases in costs. While their customer is roaming on another operator’s network, the cost of this usage is passed back to the ‘home’ network and, in many cases at a sizable amount over the ‘home’ network’s own costs.

Customer churn?

Competitive pricing structures for data plans contributes to customer churn as users shop for the best deals. Being able to control costs and offer additional value-added services will reduce churn and increase customer lifetime value.

OTT providers have eaten away at operator revenues; how must they respond?

Mobile operators should recognise that they have the primary access to their own customers and can be the best marketer to these customers. Many operators are doing just that by aggressively providing added benefits in their data plans and adding services that support beyond just the delivery of data such as Wi-Fi security and better performance.

How are consumers changing in terms of what they expect their mobile operator to deliver?

The mobile world is changing. Mobile really does mean mobile as users move from place to place using their devices – regardless of how they connect (Wi-Fi or Cellular). The type of usage is different on Wi-Fi (predominance of OTT video that uses a lot of data) than paid cellular (search engines, social) and can be reflected in how users consume their data plans. The smooth transition between the networks available to users becomes a necessity.

Mobile operators should recognise that they have the primary access to their own customers and can be the best marketer to these customers.

How can mobile operators benefit from adding Mobolize software?

Mobolize can help solve some of the challenges in the marketplace faced by operators. Our suite of smart data management software enables mobile operators and integrators to deliver value-added services and products that enhance the mobile data experience, maintain customer engagement and increase Customer Lifetime Value – helping them to better attract and retain customers.

For example, our newest product Mobolize Bond addresses consumer frustration when they unknowingly enter Wi-Fi drop-off or ‘dead zones’ resulting in lost or delayed connections to streaming video or music, apps, websites or GPS. Mobolize Bond enhances the mobile data experience by seamlessly and intelligently managing a smooth handoff between Wi-Fi and cellular connections, creating the fastest possible connection for the user.

How do you see 5G as an opportunity for revenue?

The management and performance of data networks is an on-going challenge for operators. The growth of data usage, particularly video, contributes to this and 5G is an example of network technology which will increase capacity for this growth. Mobolize provides solutions to the network providers to address many of their challenges today without affecting the network as we are resident on the mobile device.