As other mobile operators likely would attest, a relatively small number of cell sites generate the bulk of a mobile service provider’s revenue. And that is why rural Internet access to lower-income potential customers is such a challenge.
The top 10 percent of total sites contribute over 30 percent of total revenue, whereas the bottom 50 percent of sites contribute under 10 percent of revenue, a Vodafone report says.
Of the top sites, just 10 percent are in rural areas.
Data revenues represent a much greater proportion of revenue at the highest earning cell sites than at the lowest earning sites; the top 1,000 sites contribute 37 percent of total data revenues, whereas the bottom 2,000 sites contribute less than one percent of total data revenues.
That illustrates the importance of lower-cost infrastructure to supply communications and Internet access in rural areas.
As always is the case for ubiquitous networks, more-profitable customers and portions of the network subsidize the less-profitable customers and portions of the network. Analysis of individual cell site revenues and costs suggests that around 30 percent of Vodacom’s cell sites would not be profitable on a standalone basis, for example.
That also suggests the importance of potentially big new revenue sources such as Internet of Things. Mobile and other network platforms might require the profit such services provider to business and enterprise customers to generate the surplus that allows more support of rural access facilities that will not generate much net revenue or profit.
That is one reason why Spectrum Futures, a conference promoting Internet access for everyone across South Asia and Southeast Asia, this year will focus extensively on apps, app development, partnerships with ISPs and business models for new apps.
Internet of Things apps--in addition to consumer apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp--will be part of the conversation at Spectrum Futures. V. Shrinath is one of the app development specialists who will share his views at the event.